I fell victim to the hoopla. I went to today’s earliest showing of Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated, The Dark Knight Rises, the last installment (I believe) of the director’s films featuring the caped crusader. It was great. I extend personal kudos to Nolan for making the last installment my favorite of the trilogy. And that’s saying a lot considering I think Batman Begins is a great film, preferring it to the second, The Dark Knight.
Superhero movies seem to cause a feverish response in people who take these characters quite seriously.
“If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal… you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr. Wayne, a legend!” – Ra’s al Ghul
To me these films are just entertainment and on that level, The Dark Knight Rises delivers big time. I am familiar with Batman from the days of Adam West having grown up watching the series on television in reruns for years. I also watched all of the Batman film incarnations, enjoying them all on some level with my familiarity of, and fondness for the characters always being the biggest draw. But Nolan’s films took the franchise to new heights as far as feature films go, ensuring quality films made enjoyable to those not familiar with Batman as pop culture or superhero icon. I think that’s quite an accomplishment.
I made it a point not to read the many reviews offered all week on Nolan’s latest release. Still, given how much I like the first two Dark Knight films, when I stepped into the theater this morning, my expectations were quite high. He exceeds them.
I don’t want to go into any details about the story or what happens to Bruce Wayne and his alter ego other than to state the obvious should anyone happen by to read this – let them too step into a theater cold. But I have to say something. That something is I highly recommend this film. It’s interesting, fun, action-packed, stylish and well written. After the Dark Knight’s “dark” period, an eight-year span since the previous film’s ending, he rises to this fan’s satisfaction.
The Dark Knight Rises has its faults, however. The film suffers a few patchy moments with a lot of stuff being offered up for viewer consumption. At times too many things to focus on in my opinion. And what should be the climactic fight between Batman and Bane is anti-climactic to some degree. Despite that, though, the film moves along quickly and doesn’t seem as long as its almost 3-hour duration.
A few of the “regulars” we are fond of return – Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and of course, the great Michael Caine as Alfred. It’s always nice to see these great actors and they add class whenever they’re on screen.
New to this film are Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays Detective John Blake, a good guy is all I’ll say, but I really like him in this. As I do Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. Hathaway was a surprise. I was sure I wouldn’t like Ms. Hathaway in the role for some reason but I did. Another great addition, for her acting chops, not necessarily because I thought her character was fully realized, is Marion Cotillard who plays Miranda. Finally, Tom Hardy who plays the supremely powerful Bane. This one is a Batman nemesis I was not familiar with, not being a follower of Batman comics or graphic novels. Rises does a nice job of explaining Bane’s background but I happen to make a notation of being unfamiliar with this character on twitter a couple of nights ago and a twitter pal, Greg (@GregMcCambley), a huge film and comic book fan, gave me a short but sweet history of Bane and Miranda and how they fit into The Dark Knight’s world. I must say, it helped as I watched The Dark Knight Rises. Thanks to Greg for taking the time!
As I mentioned above, the big climactic fight scene between the Batman and Bane was anti-climactic to me, but there are plenty of fight scenes and explosions throughout the movie to satisfy those who go for that sort of thing. The ending to the film, though is great. Extremely satisfying as film endings go and a great ending to the trilogy, if it turns out to be true that Nolan will not venture forth with another Batman entry. Loved it as did the others in the theater who showed their appreciation with applause as the credits began to roll. Two other things I particularly enjoyed in this film – the time given to Bruce Wayne “the man” and his need to overcome trials and tribulations – much of what I enjoy so much in the first film. AND, an enthusiastic mention for composer Hans Zimmer because the score to The Dark Knight Rising is outstanding.
As the only major negative I have to mention the same thing I really disliked about The Dark Knight, the choice to use such an annoying voice for Batman. I understand the need to change it, adding to the “disguise” and perhaps emphasizing the character’s duality of the Knight’s “darkness.” But it is annoying (although less here than it was in the second film). Adding to that in Rises is that Bane’s voice is also distracting and sometimes difficult to understand. I missed some of his dialogue and not for lack of trying. I know that I will no doubt play the bluray with subtitles. I am thankful Bane is less a talker than was The Joker whose portrayal by Heath Ledger was that film’s standout.
Anyway – that’s my very general take in a broad, babbling way. Go see The Dark Knight Rises. You won’t regret it.