There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Wayne.
I went into each of the new Batman movies with some degree of trepidation. The first movie suffered from the reputation left by the previous movie, and the second movie suffered from the high standard set by one of the actors in the Tim Burton version. Going into the third Batman by Christopher Nolan, I did my very best to keep my expectations low, but I could feel myself losing that fight the second a plan was made to see it. That’s when it was becoming real. But I still had the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that there was no possible way this movie could be better than the Dark Knight. The Dark Knight may be my favorite comic book movie ever, tied with Avengers and Watchmen. If this movie trounced its predecessor, then I would need to write a review naming a new movie as my undisputed favorite comic book movie of all time. Am I about to do that? Let’s find out in my review of The Dark Knight Rises, written by Jonathan Nolan, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Josh Pence, Juno Temple, Nestor Carbonell, Matthew Modine, Alon Abutbul, and Cillian Murphy.
Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City has reached a relative state of peace due to the Dent Act and the efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). So peaceful has Gotham become that the savior of Gotham, the vigilante known as Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared into seclusion that he breaks only to have conversations with his butler Alfred (Michael Caine), and to get robbed by a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). But Selina stole more than Bruce Wayne’s mother’s necklace; she also stole his fingerprints … and a congressional representative. She sells the prints to a criminal named Bane (Tom Hardy) who uses them to bankrupt Bruce Wayne. While investigating the sewers, Commissioner Gordon also gets shot by Bane’s men, but is rescued by a cop named Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but a speech Gordon had in his jacket falls into Bane’s hands, revealing to him the truth about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes. Gotham City needs Batman again, but does he have it in him to defeat this new foe and stop his terrorist plot?
This time I was right. The Dark Knight Rises was not able to come close to the legacy left by The Dark Knight. I’m in no way trying to say that this movie was bad, but it had a whole lot to live up to and it wasn’t able to. That being said, Dark Knight Rises was a really good movie, and really strong in a lot of ways, but my three favorite comic book movies are resting comfortably on their thrones. I think the story was what got on my nerves a little bit. Though it was good, there were just too many things that just didn’t make sense to me. Take, for instance, when Selina Kyle steals Bruce Wayne’s car early on in the movie. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Bruce Wayne is the most famous person in Gotham, yet the valet doesn’t realize that he’s not married and that he left his really expensive vehicle by himself, so he just gives the keys to any lady holding a ticket claiming to be his wife? So that dude’s fired. There were plenty of things that I loved though. One such occasion was when Selina Kyle disappeared when Batman turned around and he said, “So that’s what that feels like.” Without spoiling it, I was also very happy to see that they used the most famous thing from the comic book storyline of Bane in this movie. I don’t know the Batman universe that well, but the one thing I knew that Bane did happened, and I loved it. There’s also a great deal of emotion in this movie, and I don’t think they’ve really done that successfully in the previous movies. But I really liked the last thing Batman says to Commissioner Gordon in the movie, and a few of the things Alfred said to Bruce during the last half of the movie almost brought me to tears. I will say that I did not like the ending of the movie, but I’ll go into more detail in the next paragraph.
I know that doesn’t sound like I had that many complaints about the story of the movie, but the reason I left some out was that they contain spoilers. The first non-spoiler I would give you is about spoilers, but I would recommend you not check IMDb before watching this movie. Just looking at the credits for this movie spoiled something that could have potentially been a huge surprise near the end of the movie. Maybe two things, depending on how asinine and descriptive the posters get with the character names. But here’s the rest of them ::SPOILER ALERT:: The huge thing it spoiled for me was that Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, was in the movie. That’s not revealed until the last 15 minutes of the movie! But, when I went in knowing she was in the movie, it was pretty easy to figure out who she was and who the trigger person was going to be. One of the big problems I had was with Batman in the prison. He tried to escape the prison around three times before he realized that he needed to make the jump without the rope holding him back. Friendboss Josh realized that when the first person tried to make that jump. How is he smarter than the World’s Greatest Detective? I regarded the ending of the movie as a total “fuck you” as well. Batman dies … or does he?! No. The problem with this is that it really didn’t make any sense. If Batman wanted a vacation, he doesn’t need to fake his death, and certainly not to the people he’s closest to. He let Alfred, Lucius, Gordon, Blake, and Selina Kyle all think that he was dead for a good long time before they either figured it out on their own or ran into him on vacation with Kyle in Italy. It did have a bit of an emotional impact on me as a viewer though, but it was mostly anger. Knowing this was Nolan’s last Batman movie, I had entertained the possibility that he might kill off Batman, but you can’t just do that. Batman’s almost a century old; you can’t just come in and kill him. Then, when I saw him in the café at the end, I just wondered why the fuck that little misdirection was necessary. There were some good spoilers as well. I thought it was total genius how Bane’s mercenaries used the army against the people of Gotham by making them keep the people of Gotham in town because they would set off the bomb if even one person made it across the bridge. I also thought it would’ve been an awesome reveal if I didn’t already know it was coming (Fuck you, IMDb!) to find out that Talia was the kid in the prison and Ra’s was the mercenary being talked about in the story. I got goosebumps when they showed the scene from the first movie that tied into it. ::END SPOILERS::
I enjoyed all of the performances in this movie, but there certainly wasn’t anything on the level of Heath Ledger. I know it’s an unfair comparison, but it’s also necessary. Christian Bale did a great job in the movie. He wasn’t really the same Bruce Wayne we’d seen before as he was dealing with a lot of emotions in this movie. In the beginning of the movie, he’s in seclusion and his guilt at the death of Rachel is still wearing on him, and it’s only getting worse with him turning it inward as he doesn’t have the distraction of being Batman anymore. But that was part of the problems I had with the movie: there was not enough Batman! He’s not Batman for a large part of the movie, and the first time he becomes Batman he just doesn’t seem that into it anymore. He’s back in form near the end of the movie, but I was getting bummed out about it by then. Tom Hardy did a great job in this movie as well, and I’ll avoid the Joker comparison to give him the credit he deserves. This is the Bane they needed to make in the movie. One of the biggest problems I had with Bane’s appearance in Batman and Robin was that they seemed only interested in recreating the character’s look. Yeah, he’s a big brutish looking guy wearing a mask, but he’s not some mindless goon. Bane had a genius-level intellect in comic books, but that movie makes him unable to string two words together. This movie does Bane justice. Tom Hardy makes him completely intelligent and intimidating. They also had a good reason for him to wear the mask, which I was wondering how they’d pull off when they didn’t want to take the Venom angle from the comic books. Anne Hathaway also did a pretty good job as Selina Kyle, but I can’t say that I think her role required all that much out of her than being fuckin’ hot. She did that part of it with gusto, but also gave a pretty good performance. I probably would’ve preferred that they had a few hundred more scenes of her riding Batman’s motorcycle wearing skintight leather from behind though. Her character created some questions for me, though. The main one was how Bruce could still be moping over Maggie Gyllenhaal 8 years after her death when he just met Anne Hathaway. I’d be over it pretty gundamned quickly. I also really liked the look of her “Catwoman” costume (though she’s never referred to that way as far as I know). And not just because it was skintight on Anne Hathaway’s body either. I liked that it felt really reminiscent of the Catwoman costume from the Adam West days, but they made it better by making it so she wasn’t intentionally wearing cat ears, it just looked like she was when her goggles were pushed back onto her head. On another note, I understand that Catwoman is very agile and flexible and everything, but was it actually necessary for her to kick the lever on the window washing scaffold at one point in the movie? It was above her head and you could’ve just pulled it with your hands. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
I’m sure it’s hard to tell from the review I just wrote, but I did really like The Dark Knight Rises. It was a great movie and did not lessen the average quality of the trilogy in the least, but not much can live up to the legacy left by The Dark Knight. The story was fantastic, but had some problems that hindered its overall quality, but all of the performances were fantastic and made me so happy that someone finally did Bane justice so we can stop using Batman and Robin as a character reference for him. I had some problems with the movie, but I had absolutely no problem seeing it in theater. It was totally worth it. I’m happy I saw it, I’m in love with the trilogy in total, and I can’t wait to buy it on BluRay. The Dark Knight Rises gets “You made some mistakes, Miss Kyle” out of “The Batman has to come back.”
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