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'The Dark Knight Rises' Will Rise to the Occasion

As much as is pains me to say it...this is it. The finish. The finale. The END. Directorial mastermind Christopher Nolan, screenwriter and story contributors Jonah Nolan and David Goyer, cinematographer Wally Pfister, Lendy Hemming, Emma Thomas, Michael Uslan - and all the names who have lent their talents to the single greatest comic-book to movie adaptation in the history of cinema - will walk away from their duties in Gotham. Each will depart with an astonishing 10 years vested in the compelling story of Bruce Wayne, the Batman mythos, and the LEGEND of The Dark Knight. With its highly publicized, worldwide filming, much speculated plot points, unorthodox casting choices and impatient fans - this is a time we should cherish greatly, because when it's over...it's over. Yes, there will be repeated theater visits. Yes, there will be multiple Blu-Ray viewings. Yes, there will be questions about Nolan's successor behind the camera once a reboot has been agreed upon (Nolan will reportedly produce along with wife Emma Thomas - surely you didn't think he'd take his hands off his baby so easily, did you?!). Yes, there will be sorrow knowing the gritty, "Nolanverse" we have come to know and love will be gone. It will be a sad day...a sad day, indeed.

However, until that day comes, we should savor in and express gratitude for the trilogy of films put forth by this team. We should applaud their efforts on all fronts. Their dedication to the story and their unwavering desire to bring the characters of Gotham to (not so) light. Never has there been a unit hang around long enough to let the sweat on the inside of the cowl dry, let alone carry out the legacy of the Batman on film. Granted, Bats will always be a comic-book behemoth, but on screen there have been a few missteps. None the less, Warner once again took a chance - a gamble - on an all-but-dead tent pole franchise, and rekindled it in the most creative of fashions, starting with the decision to go after Nolan.

Christopher Nolan, and not that I feel the need to tell you intelligent readers out there, understands that at the heart of every film there is a story. His deep passion for creating films is derived from his desire to be a great storyteller - and it is well documented - especially as it pertains to the Batman. Let alone his inherent need to make films that have cemented his place amongst an elite group of directors; the incredibly rare breed that walks the line between Art House auteur and mega-director (think Spielberg). He's tapped into the dark psyche of Bruce Wayne, his rogues gallery of enemies and the very thing that makes him tick. This isn't the inception (ha) of his arch nemesis (see: Batman '89); where Bruce isn't the core of the story. This has always been about he and his journey. Everyone else is merely a molecule in his well developed sphere. That's taking nothing away from the amazing performances from every spot-on cast member selected for this trilogy - each has been beyond good - those who have transcended what it means to be a REAL character in a (real) make-believe world. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight's anarchist Joker) proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with his Oscar®-winning performance that these characters could be tapped psychologically just as any other, comic-book or no. The Academy implemented the now 10-best films of the year and dubbed it The Dark Knight Rule, in lieu of its 2009 snub in favor of another very good film, The Reader (with a nominated turn from the wonderful Kate Winslett).

The common thread here being Nolan, himself (and his team). His ability to pull the best performances from actors, his utter professionalism, his eye for making a non-linear storyline completely cohesive and his underrated capacity to tug at an audience's brain matter all contribute to his success and effectiveness as a filmmaker. He isn't going to simply hand viewers every detail on a polished, silver platter. He counts on their intelligence and deductive reasoning to keep themselves abreast of the plot(s). Nolan films are not for the average moviegoer. As accessible as his celluloid may be on a commercial level (marketing is a beautiful thing, isn't it?), he is going to test you; that's his brilliance. He is a master manipulator and gives you only what he wants you to know/see. His highly underrated Christopher Priest adaptation (and a personal favorite) The Prestige, wasn't just about two rival magicians attempting to out do one another, it was proof of his talent to misdirect. It is often so convincing, that many a fan and blogger believe everything we've seen pertaining to The Dark Knight Rises (via various online leaks) has been fodder and released simply to throw us off his trail (more on this in my post concerning JGL). The guy doesn't even include the endings to his films in his scripts, for Pete's sake - he maintains them, and their integrity, in his melon and away from impatient, grubby fan hands/eyes/noses/mouths of the public. I know...sick, right? Sleight of hand...he's a true magician.

I hear the complaints *whiny voice*..."I don't like Bale's 'cancer-throat' Batman," to "I can't understand Bane's voice and what he's saying," to "Hardy isn't big enough to be Bane...he's shorter than Bruce," - blah, blah blah, blah, BLAH! It's as though, after a series of ridiculously phenomenal films, none of which have received anything less than stellar reviews from critics, and two films grossing almost $3 billion worldwide - nobody has the slightest lick of faith in Chris Nolan to bring the story of Bruce Wayne full circle. It all boils down to two age old mantras, "you can't make everybody happy" and "there will always be detractors". That is the case here. I believe, wholeheartedly, that people may want to see him fall from grace - to not make the perfect trilogy. Yes, that's exactly what it is, we WANT to see people fail. It's simply no fun if they go through something unscathed, right? WRONG. I hold steadfast to the opposition. I believe in Chris Nolan, so much so that I will gladly walk Stevie Wonder blindly into anything with which he's associated, knowing little to nothing - as should you. As if you don't have enough to go on. As if you don't want to see Nolan do something that hasn't been done. As if he hasn't delivered to us the greatest, most complete and revered superhero story we've seen on the silver screen...ever. As if you don't believe in Chris Nolan...I BELIEVE IN CHRIS NOLAN.

Nate 'The Great" Smith
Owner/Author, Geeks On Movies
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