WARNING! This post contains spoilers
With Christopher Nolan’s third (and final) Batman now currently doing the rounds in the local multiplexes, I thought I’d give my 2 cents on it. This post will unfortunately contain spoilers, so those that have yet to view The Dark Knight Rises are best to read this at a later date. Warning from here on this blog will go into detail about certain key moments within the film and the reactions these provoked.
Can you hear that? It’s a sound passing from everyone’s lips (including film critic’s)….The Dark Knight Rises is a masterpiece. Well that might be true for some, but for this film fan it is far from perfect. While it certainly is one of the most enjoyable films I have watched this summer (second only to Avengers Assembled or as most normal people call it The Avengers), there is a distinct feeling that it’s not nearly as deep or as meaningful as it clearly thinks it is. Let me explain.
Now as someone who is serious about film, I am aware that no feature (no matter how well made) is without its faults. Some are more clearly visible then others. This can be seen with TDKR, because as well filmed and action packed as it is, this a far from the ‘masterpiece’ it is being lauded as. Certainly one feels that it breaks the rule that third films in a trilogy are awful (because this is not a bad film), but its faults continue to bug days later. To be clear, I did like many parts of TDKR (it even had the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, particularly during the first chase sequence) but there are issues within this that were never present in Batman Begins (still my favorite comic book film) and to an extent The Dark Knight.
There were many moments with TDKR that (dare I say it) brought a tear to my eye, along with added bittersweet nods. I almost welled up when Alfred tells Bruce of Rachels letter and love for Harvey (which he burned in TDK). You feel for him, as you know that he was just trying to protect Bruce, almost as a father would. This moment alone proves Michael Caine still has the most amazing acting chops (and was the main thing that stayed with many people I spoke to after the screening).
TDKR is very much about Bruce Wayne (which TDK lacked due to the extraordinary performance of Ledger’s Joker). It ties in really well with Batman Begins and with the inclusion of the Batcave, which made me grin with excitement; it really does bring this up a level from TDK. Wayne is a frail, greying version of his former self. By adding these little touches, Nolan has crafted a Bruce that you genuinely worry for. Plus Batman actually did some detecting while in the Batcave, this was an element which was solely missing from the previous entries.
The action sequences were also spot on and effectively conveyed a sense of danger and excitement (certainly elements that’s present within the whole Dark Knight Trilogy). The first chase (as already mentioned) is one of the best of the trilogy and although it suffers from minor editing niggles (why did it suddenly turn from day to night?), it builds up to a fanboy crescendo as The Bat enters the fray. The inclusion of Selina Kyle without actually referring to her alias was an interesting move by Nolan, as it fixed extremely well within the movie universe. My main gripe with Hathaway’s performance is that it never felt fleshed out enough, meaning I cared little for her romantic entanglement with Batman during the course of the film. Scratch a little at the surface and you have a good (certainly better then Halle Berry’s) take on Catwoman, if a little shallow.
Which brings me to Tom Hardy’s take on Bane. Visually he was striking and possibly this was the best representation of him. He is a loyal and intelligent henchman. His muffled mask voice never bothered me (I could hear him clearly) but there were moments where he lapsed into a gimp version of Sean Connery (again this is a minor niggle but still noticeable). His soon to be iconic fight with Batman, ticks every single box. You feel genuinely exhausted for Bruce as the fight reaches its climax and when Bane eventually “Breaks the Bat”, it is everything fans of the comic- and Knightfall- could hope for.
What disappointed me most with Bane was the way he eventually snuffed it. After having two exhausting fights with the Dark Knight, to then have him suddenly blown away by explosive, leaves a cheap feeling as Nolan rushes to the finish line.
But the elements to impressive me most within this final part was in fact Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character arc. You routed for him, the good cop from the wrong side of the tracks and a great juxtaposition to Wayne’s own family tragedy. Along with Alfred and Oldman’s (still superb) Commissioner Gordon, JGL’s John Blake is the character with possibly the best pay off. The way Nolan highlights (in essentially a passing comment) that Blake’s first name is Robin, brings the Boy Wonder up to date- without the use an earring and ripped trousers.
Even if towards the end of the film, the script looses its way slightly, this is still a great bittersweet end to the trilogy. I feel the need to watch it again at some point. It’s not perfect (the ending still feels rushed along with all the other highlighted issues) but it is a damn fine comic book film and is closer to a Batman film then TDK was. Film of the year, no not even close, but it is most certainly film of the month.
Sound off with your thoughts below. Did you like TDKR or did you hate it? Do you agree with my issues or where there ones which I missed (or didn’t exist).