The Dark Knight definitely rose in the last installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. I had some mixed feelings going into this one. The characters Nolan had to tackle this time around were definitely a challenge. Both Bane and Catwoman were disastrously portrayed in their previous appearances on the big screen, so Nolan had a lot of slack to pick up.
THE TRIP TO THE THEATER:
Now before I get too far into my nerdgasm, I gotta mention a couple things about the experience. I saw the movie as part of a pre-release press screening at Ronnie’s 20 Wehrenberg in South County St. Louis. I’ve seen a few of these press screenings there (Red Tails, Project X, etc.) and it’s always been a great experience. The theater itself is wonderful; lively and well-maintained. All of the previous movies I’ve seen there were normal resolution movies. This show, however, was in IMAX… and it was awesome.
That being said, it also presented a problem. An hour and a half into the movie, the frame jumped violently as if the film jumped off the reel. A few seconds of sputtering and the theater was left in darkness. The entire audience erupted in frustration because of the part of the movie it stopped at too. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know Batman fights Bane in some kind of sewer junction underground. The movie stopped literally RIGHT BEFORE the Batman threw the first punch.
“I didn’t know there was an intermission!”
“I want my money back!”
“Do we have to act out the rest of the movie!?”
“Oh my God, I want to know what happens!!!”
These were just a few of the things I heard people yell out as the movie studdered to a halt. Most of us assumed it was just a minor hiccup and the movie would be back on shortly, but the host of our event came out as the lights turned on and told us that the IMAX projector had broken. A tech working on the problem said it would take a good two hours to fix.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait that long. Within the hour it took us to get lunch at a nearby Burger King, the crew had converted the theater to digital and loaded an encrypted hard drive with the movie on it. Thank God Warner Bros. gave us a key to that hard drive.
Enough about the five-hour movie trip. The movie itself was simply amazing. Sure it had some faults, but I’d have to be really nit-picky to point them out. It did a great job of tying the whole trilogy together, bringing up the central theme of the first movie which was Gotham’s corruption. Even though Batman beat the Joker’s game in The Dark Knight, the truth that Batman and Gordon fought so hard to hide really did come back to bite them in the ass.
Eight years passed since the events of The Dark Knight and Rises starts out with Bruce Wayne being known as a recluse by everyone in Gotham. With his only love gone and the city no longer needing his protection, he let his body and mind deteriorate. Eight years was more than a believable time period for things to change as much as they had since the Joker wreaked havoc in the last go-around.
The movie of course had its flaws, but what movie doesn’t? They did a great job of giving shout outs to just about everything from the previous two movies, but no one mentioned the Joker. Cillian Murphy even comes back for a couple of short scenes (without the Scarecrow mask), so I was left confused as to why the most iconic Batman villain of all time didn’t even get a name drop. Maybe it was because of Heath Ledger’s passing, but I still thought it would have been nice to honor his last and probably greatest performance.
So before I get into my fanboy crush on Catwoman, I have to talk about Bane. Despite the fact that you could barely understand half of what he said, he was pretty terrifying. I would be too scared to ask him to clarify what he said if he was talking to me. Not to mention the fact that he had a kill count that rivalled the Joker. Tom Hardy had his work cut out for him, only being able to use his eyes to show any kind of emotion, but he did a great job of it. The performance was believable all the way through. His ferocity and tactical intelligence definitely paid his comic-book character justice. There was no reference to Venom, but I really don’t think he needed it. He was already more than a physical match for Batman due to various past events. Don’t worry, they’re explained in the movie. Bane was not as interesting to watch as the Joker, but he played his part very well.
Catwoman stole the show just about every time she was on screen. Anne Hathaway did a great job of being a bad ass master thief. Her constant quest for a “clean slate” definitely helped give her much more depth. I honestly thought she’d be in the game with some kind of vendetta or big payoff in the end, but all she wanted was a fresh start so she could escape her criminal record. She played the “good bad girl” role that I personally found myself rooting for her even when she was actively working against Batman. And needless to say, my dreams will be graced with images of her riding that Batpod for a while.
Now before the spoilers for all of you that are dying to see how this movie goes, I’m just going to say that it was definitely a great ending for Batman. The story is wrapped up very nicely and still leaves a few loose ends for a possible continuation. I’d say it is a serious competitor for best movie of the summer. I was dead sure it was going to be The Avengers, but I can safely say that we got a good Marvel vs. DC competition going down. I couldn’t even tell you which one I enjoyed more.
There were a couple of really great twists in this movie. Most people assumed that Marion Cotillard would be playing Talia Al-Ghul, only to find her credited as Miranda Tate. Well, you can bet your ass that Nolan gave her a much bigger role than one of Bruce Wayne’s business partners. The movie does a great job of blind-siding you with it. If you haven’t followed the internet spoilers surrounding this movie, you won’t see it coming at all.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is freakin awesome as John Blake, but the real surprise builds along with his character. So many parallels between him and Bruce Wayne are brought up that by the end of the movie, when you find out that John Blake isn’t his real name… you’re just like “Shit just got real.” Then you see him discover the Batcave just before the credits… can you say spin-off?
I was really pleased with how Nolan managed to keep all the main protagonists alive in this one as well. I would have been devastated to see Gary Oldman or Morgan Freeman bite it. They held their own though, keeping their value as the movie went on. I think if either character had died, the bad guys would have won.
Liam Neeson gets a pretty cool cameo as well. Bruce Wayne hallucinates while in captivity, seeing his old mentor turned foe claiming to be immortal. He was referring to his legacy, of course… but it was awesome nonetheless.
The biggest twist was Bruce Wayne’s fate. By the end of the climax, you’re so certain that Bruce Wayne is intent on dying to save Gotham that it’s actually believable that he bites it when he hauls the nuclear bomb out into the ocean. But nope, Christopher Nolan has to give you an Inception-esque mindfuck at the end when Alfred sees Bruce and Selena in a restaurant in some other country.