Here I am, back from watching ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ on the big screen — and I haven’t even changed my clothes. There’s so much I want to say that I switched on my laptop the minute I got home. But the thoughts that kept ringing in my head were also things that would be considered spoilers for many. So I’m going to try and write this review without mentioning any key moments from the movie. Apologies if it doesn’t read like a typical ‘review’ — but I welcome your appreciation for not ruining the suspense for you.
Everyone knew this was going to be an epic movie, and boy, does it begin that way. The very first scene is the mid-air plane sequence shown in the trailers. It’s there we’re introduced to criminal mastermind Bane. And right from the start, we come to know just how sinister and evil Bane can be.
Back in Gotham, Commissioner Gordon still keeps truth to Harvey Dent’s “murder” to himself, one that the police believe Batman committed. Since Dent came down hard on Gotham City’s criminals, we now see Bruce Wayne in a crippled and less than superhero-like state back at Wayne Manor. He doesn’t have much to do with his time these days, much to the disapproval of his loyal butler Alfred, who wishes his master would at least socialize a bit more. Or settle down and start a family.
That is until Bane makes his way to Gotham city. And thus begins the battle. The Dark Knight is forced out of retirement and their face-off comes pretty early on. That fight was revealed in the trailer too, and it ends with Batman getting quite a pounding. Bane essentially takes over Gotham and chaos reins as he fulfills Ra’s Al Ghul ultimate goal of restoring “balance in the world”. A goal Bane achieves by striking fear into the hearts of Gotham’s citizens and bringing anarchy to the city streets. What happens in between all this and Batman’s eventual return for the final stand-off is just too replete with spoilers.
So instead, I will now talk about the disappointments. Yes, those worries about not being able to understand what Bane was saying are true in some scenes. I really couldn’t comprehend some of the words. But otherwise it was fine, it’s not like you’re missing out on any key points in the movie. And yes, Batman still has his deep-gravely voice which can also be hard to understand at times. Mind you, when watching it in a theatre, you have to deal with chatter and cheers from patrons who somehow don’t seem to grasp the concept of ‘when to shut up’.
The rise and fall and eventual return of a hero maybe cliched at this point, but it works in TDKR. How Batman saves the day may also resemble other super-hero endings. But, if you had any disappointments throughout the movie, trust me – the ending redeems it all. The epic score by Han Zimmer, coupled with the insane fan service you never thought Nolan would write, the ‘just-when-you-thought-it-was-all-over’ moment… it really had me nearly tearing up. The ending alone was enough for me to consider ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ a brilliant film!
As for the other characters…
Let me just say I have never watched the Halle Berry-starred ‘Catwoman‘ — and nor do I have any intention to (Believe it or not, it’s on HBO as I edit this, and I still don’t feel like seeing it!). Maybe it was because of the appalling reviews that movie got, and what it eventually did to that character, that I had a hint of disapproval when Nolan announced Catwoman for TDKR. No offense, Anne Hathaway is a wonderful actress, and an incredibly beautiful woman who looks mighty fine in a tight catsuit. And yet, I somehow just couldn’t see her as Catwoman. She did the role justice, but that’s only because she’s a good actress under the helm of a great director. But I’m not sure if I’m keen on a role reprisal.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I’m sure Nolan will work with again) is great as expected, as are the remainder of the returning cast. But all said and done, it’s hard not to shower praise on this man…
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘Batman Begins’ (2005), as I felt it lacked in many departments, namely action. The first movie in a ‘trilogy’ is often the best, but ‘Batman Begins’ was only good enough to give me an impression of what Nolan’s vision of the Batman universe was. Even as I came back home today, WB was playing ‘Batman Begins’ on TV — and seeing it now, I still don’t think it’s a ‘classic’. That said, what followed three years later was undoubtedly Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. I don’t even have to spare more than one sentence to describe how good ‘The Dark Knight’ was. It deserved all the critical acclaim and financial success it received. It isn’t just one of the best comic book hero movies ever made, it remains one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen!
So Nolan knew what he was up against before he began filming TDKR. I knew when Bane was announced as the villain, that somehow this film wouldn’t be a ‘classic’ like its predecessor. Maybe the reason why ‘The Dark Knight’ will always be remembered is because of The Joker — Batman’s most famous nemesis — and his portrayal by the late Heath Ledger (R.I.P). That is not to say TDKR isn’t well written. It is, and there are a lot of great lines. Just not many that will end up on t-shirts.
Batman was always my favourite superhero from the DC universe. But there are now so many different takes on what ‘Batman’ is. There’s the campy, pun-filled television original, there’s Tim Burton’s (then) amazing take on Batman, the iconic animated series of the mid-90s, the ‘Arkham’ video games, and the nail in the coffin that was Joel Schumacher’s movies. Nolan’s vision of the Batman universe is undoubtedly the most mature, dark, and realistic of them all. So it’ll be interesting to see which direction Bruce Wayne is headed next. And more interestingly, who will play him.
With the success of Marvel’s recent comic book adaptations — and the $1.5 billion grossing ‘The Avengers’ — there’s no doubt Warner Bros. (who owns DC Comics) want to bring the Justice League on to the big screen. Warner Bros. is reviving the Superman franchise (again) with ‘Man of Steel‘ next year, and with the cash cow that is ‘The Dark Knight’ franchise, Batman is sure to return to the big screen two years from now. I’m not going to comment on Wonder Woman, because… well, let’s just say some comic book heroes best remain animated. But we’ll see, it all comes down to the vision of the studio and director leading the project.
Until then, just know that Nolan did his job and ended his trilogy of Batman in a way only he could have. As epic as epic can be.
My final rating for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)
*Michael Bay said he wouldn’t direct another Transformers movie after ‘Dark of the Moon‘. He’s directing the fourth one now. Japanese videogame legend Hideo Kojima said he would quit directing the Metal Gear Solid games after 2004’s ‘Snake Eater‘. Guess how many MGS games he’s done since 🙂