Despite the tragedy here in Colorado I still went out to a different theater last night and saw the much anticipated finale to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. I have been excited for this movie for over a year, well actually since The Dark Knight in 2008, so I wasn't going to let the actions of one man stop me. However, I will admit it was eerie being in a theater auditorium that wasn't even half full on not only a Friday but on an opening weekend like this.
With that said, this movie didn't disappoint. Not really. Overall I think that it was really, really well done and I absolutely loved the ending. Were there little things that bothered me? Sure. Were they enough to ruin anything? Hell no. I will talk more about those things in the spoiler section after the jump so you are safe reading until then.
I thought the acting was very good, as always, and I think the casting for characters was fantastic. I mean no disrespect when I say this but Tom Hardy as Bane seriously is up there with Heath Ledger as The Joker. Obviously it isn't as powerful as Heath's was and I do still think his portrayal of The Joker is #1, but in terms of the various villains we have had in this trilogy, including Jonathan Crane and Harvey Dent, I think Bane was pushed above all the rest to a clear second behind The Joker. And as surprised as I am to be saying this I honestly liked Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (aka, Selina Kyle). It was more of the genuine cat burglar approach rather than the approach Tim Burton did with Batman Returns where she was out for revenge more than anything. I thought the musical score complimented the character best because whenever Catwoman was up to something there was a recognizable, sneaky-like piano tune that would play. It was really well done and I am pleased to say that I was happy with it. I was real worried about Catwoman.
The main thing that I felt was despite the movie being 2 hours and 45 minutes, it still felt very rushed to me. I felt that they tried to do a little too much at one time with too many main to semi-main characters. I also felt the return, or rise, of Batman back into Gotham was too soon. It was like one minute Bruce Wayne is a recluse and then the next minute he is back on the streets chasing after criminals. It just felt too soon.
Now I will talk about spoilers and key points in the plot so I advise you do not continue reading until you see The Dark Knight Rises.
Now for some spoilers!
To start with another problem I had other than the film's pacing... There was no explanation of Bane's mask. None whatsoever. I know the story behind the mask already so I knew why he wore it, but seriously. People who are just regular Batman viewers and don't know a lot about the comic universe and various Batman villains would have no idea. All the showed was Bane in the prison protecting Talia Al Ghul and then you saw him in present day wearing the mask. You also saw how much it debilitated him to not have it working properly. The only hint is in the prologue where the CIA agent asked him if he would die without the mask on and Bane replied with, "It would be extremely painful." I'm not saying they needed to go through this big half hour explanation but something would have been nice.
Also going along with how I thought Batman's return was a bit rushed, what gave me this feeling was seriously how quick he seemed to be pulled back into the game. It's like, oh hello lady who just stole my mother's necklace out of an uncrackable safe while bringing me my dinner. I better go down to the Batcave and start tracing her whereabouts and her motivation. I was like, well that didn't take much. Bruce's recovery after Bane broke his back was also really quick. He is broken, brought to the prison, and it just seemed like he was back on his feet doing push ups and sit ups in no time.
BUT, despite those types of minor gripes it wasn't nearly enough to ruin the movie. The movie itself was seriously good. I will say this, though... it felt like more of a homage to Batman Begins and seemed to ignore The Dark Knight for the most part. The only real reference to The Dark Knight was Harvey Dent and The Dent Act. I personally think it is due to everyone's sensitivity over the death of Heath Ledger. Christopher Nolan came out earlier in the week and said there was no mention of The Joker in the film and he wasn't lying to us. There is not one reference or word spoken about The Joker. I'm not saying be insensitive and re-cast the character or anything like that but seeing that Ra's Al Ghul and Jonathan Crane (aka, Scarecrow) were both in the movie as cameos and there was a neverending mention of Harvey Dent it just felt like a giant hole being punched through the movie. A little snippet could have been tastefully done just to pay tribute to every villain we have had so far. Apart from that, the general feel of the movie just seemed to tie into Batman Begins a lot more by bringing back the Batcave and the overall theme of Bruce finding his true fate and who he wants to be to Gotham. The main character for me wasn't necessarily Batman but it was the man, Bruce Wayne and that is kind of how Batman Begins was. The Dark Knight was more about Batman rather than Bruce Wayne.
I also want to talk about the main twists in the movie before I get to talking about the actual ending. Most of the movie we are led to believe that Bane is the child of Ra's Al Ghul and that he was the child who escaped out of the prison. This is thrown off the tracks when Talia Al Ghul (aka, Miranda Tate) literally stabs Bruce Wayne in the back and reveals that Bane is basically her puppet and she is the child of Ra's Al Ghul and basically used Bane to set up Bruce Wayne and to gain access to his clean energy project to complete her father's work. I really liked the twist and for a second it had my jaw on the floor. When you see the shot of Bane being the protector and helping her out of the prison as a child I was just like, holy shit! Also seeing Bane shed tears as Talia cares for his broken mask and saying that he protects her because he loves her was just fantastic. The acting and the script was so good.
The other semi-twist is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character John Blake is implied to be Robin but at the same time not really. When he goes to resign from the Gotham Police Department the secretary says he should use his full name and then says "Robin." As the movie ends after Gotham is spared and Batman is gone (I will talk about that momentarily) he delves into Wayne Manor and finds the Batcave and it is almost identical to Bruce's first encounter in Batman Begins with the light and the bats flying around him. It is kind of left open to interpretation whether he becomes the next Batman or if he will later become Robin. It isn't specified.
And now, the ending... we all kind of predicted it but the way Nolan did it left it open for a hell of a lot of interpretation. Kind of like what he did with Inception how you can twist it about 2-3 different ways. The way I interpret it is the bottom line is Batman dies and by Batman I also mean Bruce Wayne. When he attaches the bomb onto The Bat and flies away with it to detonate over the bay I do not believe that he used whatever autopilot Lucius Fox talked about. If anyone remembers correctly he tells Bruce that the autopilot was having Batman fly it. Therefore, Bruce flying it over the water and having the bomb detonate while it was still attached was intentional and he wouldn't have had a way to escape it. I really don't think he faked his death just to escape Gotham and Batman. Anyone who follows this character knows that no matter what enemies are defeated something will always plague Gotham. If he stayed alive and just ran away something else would come back to Gotham and he would have been hit with the same guilt and feeling of responsibility he had been hit with when it came to Scarecrow, Ra's Al Ghul, The Joker, Harvey Dent, and Bane. It would never stop and I think the ending was Bruce realizing that and knowing that ending it that way was him making peace with himself and his city. Batman was the hero Gotham needed right then and he knew it.
When Alfred sees him in Italy with Selina I think it was a vision. I don't think he was really there. I think that was showing that Alfred had also come to terms with Bruce's choices and who he felt he needed to be. The fact that he was with Selina I think showed that she was who Bruce truly bonded with since the loss of Rachel Dawes. That she could have been his hope for a new fresh start and that is what Alfred wanted for Bruce. That's what I think. A lot of others are out saying they think Bruce ejected and escaped with Selina using the Clean Slate technology he got for her. I just think that is too easy.
I will say that overall it was good, though. I thought the ending was perfect for this trilogy. I don't think it was necessarily epic or a grand conclusion but it did the job. I didn't love it quite as much as I anticipated, but like I mentioned earlier about the lack of reference to The Dark Knight I think it should have been expected. There was no real mention of Arkham Asylum either so there were a couple components missing that I feel could have been there. Well done, Mr. Nolan. I applaud you.
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