Being that I have a hard time making it out to the cinema (unless it is a children’s movie) I’m late to the game in seeing The Dark Knight Rises. By now, hundreds of thousands of words have been printed and published about the film. It may be a moot point to even review the film at this point, but hey- a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Or a Batman’s gotta do for that matter.
Without wasting a few needless paragraphs describing the minutia of the plot of The Dark Knight Rises, I feel it’s better to just jump right in to the meat of the review, so we can all get out of here on time and with our cowl still intact. So without further ado, you have my permission to read:
So what is good about The Dark Knight Rises?
Well, there is quite a lot good about this movie. It is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to one of the better trilogies ever made. When the credits rolled I felt happy with how it ended; without feeling cheated or left with questions. This isn’t the ending to Lost, we have characters that’ve been established and their endings (or beginnings) feels right on target.
Bruce Wayne/Batman- The Wayne/Batman story is something I really liked with the movie. Eight years have passed and Bruce hasn’t kept up with his training. He’s a shell of the man he once was, closed off in self-exile. I like that when he comes back as Batman, he gets his ass handed to him by Bane. Like Alfred says, he’s pretty much on a suicide mission and doesn’t care if he lives or dies. So when we see the established character at the beginning of the film, it feels good to watch him come back at the end to make his last stand and triumph over evil. That’s kind of the point of the movie. The beginning, the fall, and finally the rise of Batman.
Bane- For the most part I liked Bane in this film. Although I will admit I was one of the few that are saying they had a hard time understanding him. I caught about ¾ of what he was saying but some parts I still have no clue about. Subtitles will come in handy when I watch this on DVD. I think Tom Hardy did a really good job with the character, and I did enjoy the voice he used to portray Bane. It was part cheese but also anarchic glee at the destruction he caused. I loved the fight scenes between Bane and Batman. I love how brutally Bane just wailed on Batman, not showing an ounce of pain.
Catwoman- I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the inclusion and performance by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She played it will enough sarcasm, charm, and fun as the character deserves. A really great addition to the series and I will have to mention that she did not hurt the eyes to look at.
The Action- This film had a few great action pieces. The football stadium (go Steelers) sequence was a great moment along with one of the best scenes including Bane. The last hour of this movie has some great action pieces in it and managed to make it feel really large in scale.
The Rest- JGL as John Blake/Robin was great. I felt involved in his storyline and a good prologue to the character. Bale’s performance was as good as it has been in this whole series. Alfred has a heartbreaking moment with Bruce that was top notch.
So what was bad about The Dark Knight Rises?
I felt that this movie was good. Really good. But not fully great. I think perhaps after a few viewings or watching the series back to back my opinion might ‘rise’ as well (see what I did there). But there were a few issues that linger with me after a few days to let it settle. I’ll rattle some of these off without going into too much detail. I want you to keep reading after all and this review shouldn’t be as long as The Dark Knight Rises was!
Which brings me to the first issue: The running time. Now, as a fan of cinema, I don’t mind a movie going over and above normal runtime. I can sit and watch a film for four hours as long as that film is engaging me. As much as I liked the movie, I feel it could stand from trimming about 30 minutes out of the film. With having to set up new characters it takes time, but at some points takes too much time.
When you take that time to set up a character, give us a bit more meaning to them when you kill them off. Having Bane get blasted by Catwoman was alright, but it happened so fast I was kind of shocked when they just moved on to the next scene I was left thinking ‘Ok… I guess Bane is dead now’. I would have much rather seen an epic to the death battle between Bane and Batman. Sure, we learn that Bane is just a pawn, but who didn’t want to see Batman stand above the broken Bane, having the tables turned completely (and pulling at Bane’s mask didn’t count for me).
Bane, though a good villain, could have been a bit more menacing than he was portrayed. I don’t need to see him rip someone’s still beating heart out of their chest screaming ‘Kali Ma!’, but Nolan cut away from each of Bane’s kills. Though this is not the real fault of the film, there was no moment as visceral as the ‘magic trick’ of The Dark Knight. With that moment in that film, it was so unexpected and brutal it left you scared of where he would go from that point on. There is no moment in ‘Rises’ that reaches that same level of fear or brutal consequence.
Matthew Modine. Could have done without that redemption.
The Bat- sure it was cool and all and served to finish up the story, I don’t know why but I just didn’t care for it.
Other than that I only have minor issues, but enough that left me not loving this film. But like I said that may change after a few more viewings (hopefully not in the wrong direction).
A few people have argued that Bruce was killed at the end and that Alfred just saw a vision of him with Selena Kyle at the end. Um. Remember the part where they specifically stated that Bruce had gotten another auto-pilot fixed for The Bat? Yeah, he didn’t die.
This is just a personal note: Going in to the film I wasn’t thinking about the tragedy in Colorado at all. It just didn’t enter my mind when I bought my ticket and sat down in the darkened theater. However, during the sequence where Bane takes over the Gotham stock exchanged, it just popped up out of nowhere and instantly took me out of the film and made me feel uneasy. I didn’t think that would happen because I know that act was one of an unstable person, but there I was sitting in the dark with a chill running down my spine.
A really good film that doesn’t quite add up to a great one, but a fitting end to this Batman story. Definitely worth to see and will sit proudly in my collection. There are some issues, but with time and less scrutiny this could be seen in a different light and perhaps reach that status.