It’s a Great Movie Except For…
Christopher Nolan’s epic Dark Knight trilogy ends with an inspired Dark Knight Rises. However, this film is not at all what anyone was expecting. The finale had to escalate the story while giving a satisfying conclusion – no easy task – while somehow equaling the incredible predecessor The Dark Knight (without the help of Heath Ledger, who is certainly missed). Nolan essentially pulls it off – but somehow fails to blow you away the way he did with The Dark Knight. The issue here was the escalation of the principal story. Think about it – Batman went from fighting mob bosses and Ninjas in Batman Begins to the merciless juggernaut of the Joker in The Dark Knight – the enormous scale and magnitude of Dark Knight Rises is the next logical step, but requires more of a detachment from reality in a film franchise based on gritty realism.
Dark Knight Rises, more of a war drama rather than a superhero movie centers on a conflict – Batman feels more like one of the guys than the singular protagonist. Nearly every actor gives a strong performance especially Caine, who pulls heartstrings with ease. Gordon-Levitt is strong in an unexpectedly large role, Hardy is charismatic while being theatrically handcuffed by his mask (face-cuffed?), and Bale’s performance impresses and amazingly surprises. Hathaway, Oldman, Freeman, Cotillard more than satisfy and there are plenty of cameos to delight feast upon. However, Rises centers a grand story spanning plot-months more than any one hero or battle. This is truly an ancient Greek epic for modern times.
It wouldn’t be a Nolan-Batman movie without ton of visually stunning IMAX set pieces, one-liner chuckles, and brutally emotional character scenes. There are more eclectic comic book mythos references (KnightFall, Dark Knight Returns, No Man’s Land, Kingdom Come) than any other film in the series. The magnitude of story and major character choices, as well as the finale of the ending can leave one conflicted only because it’s doesn’t go according to plan. There are a ton of things to nitpick and fret over that you almost wish went the other way. But that’s the beauty of it all – it’s Nolan’s choice and he’s crafted his sophisticated film to ends his trilogy his way.
Long Story Short: Starts slow, you don’t know where it’s going until the spectacular ending, followed by a string of juicy Easter Eggs (needed a better choice for his real name – you’ll get that after you see it). Don’t expect another Dark Knight. 9 out of 10
FINAL NOTE – If you can, read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. It’s enormously valuable to the character as a whole, but after seeing Dark Knight Rises, I have to say it’s absolutely essential. (TAS Version HERE)
POST-FINAL NOTE: Shocking and appalling that such a horrible tragedy occurred in Colorado last night. My only goal in writing this review today was to demean the gunman’s implied attempt at seeking attention, but it would be unfair to victims their families not to give due condolence. My love to you all