“The Dark Knight Rises” Novelization Captures Film for Readers
I love to read. I don’t have near as much time to read as I would like, but such is life. It is nice to read a completely new story, one with which I’m not familiar, and create images in my mind from the words. However, it can also be nice to read a well written novelization of a film that I enjoyed watching. When done properly, such a book can allow the reader to return to the theater in our minds, with the words on the page helping us to recall the scenes as they played out on the screen. The novelization of “The Dark Knight Rises” does an excellent job of this, reminding me why I loved seeing the film in the first place.
Author Greg Cox took on this challenge, and succeeded in giving us a book that is extremely faithful to the film. Cox is no stranger to film novelizations, having previously written “Ghost Rider,” “Daredevil,” and three from the “Underworld” series of films. He has also done several comic book novelizations, as well as many novels in the worlds of Star Trek and the Marvel Universe, just to name a few. It can be tricky doing what Cox does, as he is playing in someone else’s sandbox so to speak, but he has earned a reputation of staying true to the characters and their worlds.
In “The Dark Knight Rises” Cox had several primary characters and secondary characters to bring to life, and they all simply felt right. Often basic dialogue is the same from film to novelization, but it is other aspects that some authors struggle to do well. The writer must use words to convey mannerisms, expressions, and give us the characters thoughts, and these must all be appropriate for the character. For example, in a movie, we rarely hear what the character is thinking, but in a book, that is a crucial aspect, and those thoughts must still “sound” like the character. Some good writers cannot accomplish this, but Cox excels at it.
All of the characters were perfect, and well rounded, from the familiar Batman and Commissioner Gordon to the new character of Blake, and even through minor characters. Little nuisances, like the thoughts going through the mind of the Special Forces Captain Mark Jones (the character who lead the team that infiltrated Gotham City but was killed), were wonderfully written. Indeed that whole scene, being written from Jones’ point of view, is just one example of how Cox chose to enhance each character at just the right time. That scene would have been much different it written from another vantage point, and not nearly as meaningful. Part of the job of a novelization is to help the reader see inside the minds of the characters in more depth and detail than a film can, and Cox did this very well.
Every scene from the film is part of this novelization, and through the words on the page, I was able to close my eyes and see each moment perfectly. I have read some novelizations that simply don’t match the film, and perhaps they were from an early draft where things changed. Sometimes, however, authors just don’t put the reader inside the world of the film. While reading “The Dark Knight Rises” I believed I was in Gotham City, and it was indeed the one I saw on the screen. From the descriptions to how Gotham City looked before the occupation, to details of how the city was transformed during Bane’s reign of terror, everything was both the Gotham I saw in the movie, and the one I grew up with at the same time. Gotham City is as much of a character as Batman himself, and even though every incarnation of Batman is always at least a little different, the Gotham City of the novelization was familiar and somehow comforting, even through the tragedy they were experiencing.
If I could change one thing about this novelization, it would be that I would have liked to have seen a few “extra” scenes. So often there are scenes that are filmed but cut in the editing process that allow us to have more insight and background, but are simply removed because of time. Books have no such limitations, and they can be a great place to give us a look at what the script writers and filmmakers originally intended.
Some novelizations are too short, and give the reader exactly what was on the screen and nothing more. The best novelizations help you get inside the movie, but also inside the characters, and in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Cox certainly does that. If you enjoyed the movie and want to experience it again, with more depth and insight into the characters, I highly recommend this novelization, published by Titan Books.
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