Late to the party again:
Normally, I keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but I’m sure everyone has seen this by now, and I can’t give my full thoughts without major spoilers, so to hell with the usual rule. It’s spoiler time.
This will be your only warning.
I actually came into this movie with pretty low expectations. I loved the first two movies — despite my disdain for DC — but I figured there was no way in hell anything would beat Heath Ledger’s Joker, those shots of the hover-bat-mobile in the trailers made me cringe, and I couldn’t care less about Catwoman or Bane.
However, I’m pleased to report that The Dark Knight Rises fulfilled none of my fears. It’s an epic, emotional movie, and a worthy ending to what I view as one of the greatest film trilogies of all time.
That said, I did have some significant problems with it.
I’ll just come right out and say it:
Bruce Wayne should have died.
Now, maybe I’m just affected by how dour my mood’s been in general lately. Maybe this is something I’ll change my mind on later. But I felt bringing Bruce back at the end sucked a lot of the emotional punch out of the movie.
I mean, Alfred crying over his grave was probably the single most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen in a movie, and they just destroyed all the poignancy of that with one shot a minute later.
To be fair, a lot of the build up around Bruce finding something to live for would have been ruined if he’d died. But at the same time, a lot of the build up for his death was ruined by his survival. They sort of painted themselves into a corner where a good chunk of the movie would feel pointless either way.
With the exception of Bruce living after all, I also found the movie very predictable. Aside from the final scene, I’d figured out pretty much the entire movie within the first ten minutes or so.
Related to the above, I found a lot of elements of the plot very contrived. Too many things came out of the blue too fast. I almost felt as if there was an entire movie between this one and The Dark Knight that I’d missed.
And it all seemed too convenient. Batman just happens to have randomly developed a crippling knee injury. He just happens to have invested in a power source that could also be used to blow up the city. He just happens to have met a kid several years ago who became a cop and magically figured out he was Batman based on the look in his eyes or some such nonsense.
My final complaint is the same complaint I had about The Dark Knight. One of the things that drew me in back in Batman Begins was how grounded it felt. Bat-tank notwithstanding, Batman was essentially just a nut with some body armor and a grappling hook, and the villains were similarly down to Earth. It felt real. But they abandoned that in record time.
The Dark Knight was quick to ruin the feel of realism with ludicrous gadgetry and implausible feats, and The Dark Knight Rises continues destroying any sense of believability and falling to comic book logic. I won’t go over everything that bothered me, but the biggest offense was probably the brawl between the police and Bane’s army and the way they all apparently forgot they had guns thirty seconds in.
But focusing on those issues would be unfair to the many strengths of The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve often said that the mark of something truly great is not that it has no flaws, but that its strengths convince you to forgive those flaws.
By that standard, this is a truly great movie.
I’d say the greatest strength of this film is its power and emotion. It’s difficult to put a finger on precisely what made this so much more of an emotional experience than your average comic book movie. A lot of it, I think, is simply the actors going the extra mile. I can’t find a single weak spot in the cast — not even Anne Hathaway, and I had my doubts about her.
Another factor is how far the Nolans went in the intensity of the plot and kicking Batman while he was down. Bane may not be Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he was a terrifying villain all the same. If The Dark Knight was what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, The Dark Knight Rises is what happens when the immovable object is moved.
These two factors make scenes that would be painfully cliche in any other movie incredibly powerful in this one. In particular, I think of the scene where Bruce at last escapes the prison. In any other comic book film, the hero accomplishing such a feat would hardly be noticed; it’d be par for the course. But yet in this film, it seemed something altogether more special.
And, of course, the action sequences were incredible and thrilling, but to be honest, if you only went to see a Nolan Batman movie for the action, you’re doing it wrong. Which is probably the best thing I can say about the Nolanverse.
Overall rating: 9.3/10 Deshi, deshi, basara, basara.