Set during The Dark Knight Rises, this short fan film focuses on what happens when Bane (Brodie Dransutavicius; voiced of Steve Reeve) and his thugs arrive at Arkham, ready to unleash its imprisoned denizens upon the world. Revealed in their cells, poised for escape, are Batman villains as varied as Mad Hatter (Nolan Haukeness), Calendar Man (Toddske), Riddler (Brodie Dransutavicius) and, the cream of the crop, the Joker (Zachary Barrett; voice of Steve Reeve). There’s even a brief cameo of a pre-Harley Quinn Dr. Quinzel (Cat Jones) to be had.
Tito Guillen’s short fan film Arkham Rising looks great, keeps with the general aesthetic of the Nolan trilogy, specifically The Dark Knight Rises, and plays as if it could’ve been an outtake from the film itself, or perhaps a DVD extra that answers some questions you might have about the lack of information regarding certain Arkham inmates while integrating a new version of the basics of the Knightfall comic book storyline. Additionally, the score by Jerel Northern is incredible, elevating the short to an epic level that its content, frankly, doesn’t actually warrant.
My main issue with this short fan film is that it is all tease. The lead-up to this short can be found in The Dark Knight Rises, and the aftermath of characters such as Riddler, Mad Hatter, Calendar Man and the Joker getting their freedom is… nowhere to be seen. Yes, you could argue that, if I want to see something like that, all I need to do is re-read the Knightfall storyline in the comics, but since this film is setting up the elements of Knightfall even more within the world of the Nolan trilogy, I want to see it! If this were a video game, it’d be the cutscene near the beginning that set up who Batman would be fighting for the rest of the game (and, you know, if you want that, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Batman: Arkham City” are waiting for you already).
And the visual aesthetic keeps with the tease idea, with so many shots of backs, legs or out-of-focus partial faces. What winds up being the driving force behind the entire piece is arguably one of the more painful parts of The Dark Knight Rises, Bane’s voice, but it doesn’t deliver anything new (beyond, perhaps, being easier to understand). Luckily, that score is there all along too, keeping things moving forward in brilliant aural fashion.
Basically what you get is four minutes out of five (one minute is mostly end credits) dedicated to setting up an idea of what might’ve happened in The Dark Knight Rises, that we did not see, had Bane decided to go to Arkham and release its most notorious villains. But we don’t get to see what happens after the release, just how the release occurred. In the end, it’s all tease and setup that plays like an outtake from The Dark Knight Rises; notable for how well it’s done, but lamentable for how little it actually does.
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