SPECIAL NOTE: I’d like to offer my condolences and prayers to the victims and their families of the Aurora, Colorado community. What should have been a nice night out turned horrific in an instant and it has shown us all how fragile life is.
Last night (or this morning…depending on how you look at it. The movie started at 11:30pm), I saw The Dark Knight Rises. I have plenty of things to say about the movie and how I felt about it but I would have to release some spoiler-type information to do so. So if you don’t want any spoilers, walk away.
In order to critique this film in a way where my thoughts are coherent (being such a huge fan of the franchise), I’ve developed my movie reviewing breakdown but first…the synopsis.
Eight years on [after The Dark Knight], a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.
– Taken from IMDB.com
Initial Reaction (i.e. when I left the theatre in a daze, forgetting which direction the exit was…):
Um…well…the movie was…good. To be quite honest, I’m still not sure how I feel about the movie even after a good night’s rest and day of doing nothing in particular. What I do know is that it was NOT at the level of The Dark Knight (as in the last movie was better than this one). I guess I was let down a bit and I think my history with the character, among other things, is adding to it…but I’ll get to all that in time.
I love Christian Bale and I love Christopher Nolan. So when these two got together to make a movie based on my favourite superhero, Batman, I died and went to Arkham (because I went crazy and not because I find insane asylums heavenly). The first two films were amazing but also thought provoking but this recent instalment had me…confused. Not in the sense that I didn’t understand what was going on but more along the lines of the direction the story was taken as well as it’s progression. In fact, I’ll number these issues for you:
An Eight Year jump with a missing Bat.
- The movie jumps eight years forward which wouldn’t be an issue if Bruce Wayne was still prancing around as Batman (despite receiving the honour of enemy #1 after the last film). He wasn’t. Instead, we find out that not only has Batman been out of commission for eight years but so has Bruce Wayne who’s become this recluse. I’m no detective but if Bruce Wayne suddenly hides from civilization when the Batman disappears…well…I’d draw some conclusions. Now, as a casual comic book fan, I get why Nolan did this. In Knightfall, Batman is exhausted when he meets Bane which is why Bane was able to break his back (you know…besides having superhuman strength). Nolan is trying to go for the he’s-been-out-of-the-game-for-awhile reason for why he got his back broken in this movie. But this is Batman. Bruce Wayne will also been Batman because he never wants whatever happened to him to happen to someone else. He even goes as far as calling it his mission in life. Again, Nolan by past this by saying that Bruce’s body is so badly injured (hence the cane and the cool leg brace thing) that he’s not at his prime. Okay…but he’s BATMAN and this is where the comic/cartoon fan inside me stomps her foot in frustration.
- If I could point out one thing that really made me question the quality of the movie, it would be the pacing. Whether it’s the progression between scenes, the scenes themselves or the scale of the story that was told in the time allotted; the whole thing felt erratic and hurried. Best way to explain it would be to compare The Dark Knight to a newly manufactured car and The Dark Knight Rises to a newly repaired car where some of the parts looked to have been shoved into their respective places in order to get them to fit or done in time. This was probably the biggest issue for me.
The End of Batman but NOT Bruce Wayne?
- This really had my inner fan annoyed. When do you get it? The core of the Batman lore is that Bruce Wayne will NEVER NOT BE BATMAN. He either dies as Batman or his body is so weak that he CAN’T be Batman. Although, that would be when he’s MUCH older than he is in the movie (i.e. Batman Beyond). I think Nolan did a gutsy move with that decision but is it one that fans of the comics would like? Maybe…if it was temporary which we’ve seen happen a couple of times on the comics but the movie alluded that it wouldn’t be temporary.
Also as a side note: A lot of people knew that the movie would be loosely based on the Knightfall comic because of the introduction of Bane as the villain. What people don’t know until seeing the movie and having read this particular comic (or reading the novel version by Greg Rucka like I have which is WAY BETTER), the movie is also basing it’s storyline on the No Man’s Land comic.
The acting was amazing. The old characters were just as great as they were in the previous movies but let’s talk about the newbies.
- This casting had me worried the most and it was executed very very well. I’m pleasantly surprised. I’ve noticed they never once said Catwoman in the entire film but instead danced around it with things like “Cat Burglar”.
- I loved Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane but the voice was hard to make out sometimes.
Marion Cotillard/Miranda Tate/Talia Al Ghul
- She was great when she finally came out as Talia near the end (which wasn’t a surprise at all). A calm cold kind of evil to chill out the angry Bat…
Joseph Gordon-Levitt/John Blake/Robin
- The best surprise in the movie. There were people claiming that Nolan said he would never put Robin in his Batman franchise. We saw some subtle hints of Robin in the movie but I never thought Robin’s name would be uttered at all! (as John Blake’s full name which I guess would be Robin John Blake?). Which Robin is he? That’s the best part! He’s all three. Nolan fused the qualities and back stories of all of the Robins to create John Blake kind of like what they did in the television show, Smallville, in regards to the character, Impulse, who was a combination of the different Flashes. Don’t believe me?. Check this out:
Dick Grayson: John (apparently from what people have been saying) is the middle name of Richard “Dick” Grayson who was the first Robin. When Dick Grayson became Nightwing, his secret identity was a police officer like Blake. Dick Grayson is an orphan as well.
Jason Todd:When Blake talked about his anger that he has inside of him, it reminded me of Jason Todd who was the second Robin and who was also known for his severe aggression (even by Batman standards). Blake also mentioned his father being killed over a gambling debt and as a kid, seeing Bruce Wayne with his nice car. Todd’s dad was on the wrong side of the law which was what got him killed and Todd meets Batman for the first time after boosting the wheels to the Bat mobile. Jason Todd is also an orphan.
Tim Drake: The third Robin who was known for his detective skills more so than the other Robins and you can see that with Blake in the movie.
As per usual, the visuals were amazing. I didn’t think Nolan could out do himself after the truck scene in The Dark Knight where it was flipped over entirely and it wasn’t a small truck by any means. But guess what? He does. The plane scene at the beginning was phenomenal. The entire film looked appealing and the city at night was just gorgeous….
The film had it’s positives (YAY! Robin) but I can say for sure that it did not surpass the Dark Knight. Is it better than Avengers? I don’t know. Better than Amazing Spider-Man? Hahaha. Let’s not push it.
I’m giving this a 3 and 1/2 out of 5 Bats. I’m seriously feeling myself die a little inside. WHY NOLAN? WHY?
Maybe I’m delusion. Maybe I’m focusing on the little things but what I do know is that I’m going to see it again…you know…to get a second opinion 🙂
A. A. Omer