Hi everyone, I’m back with 10-thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises and should have a column of some sort of column on the happenings of the week every week. This week everything pales next to Dark Knight Rises, so here’s my 10 Thoughts on the movie for comics fans! Spoilers be ahead, so see the damn thing before you read this. You can read either Scott Sawitz’s theatrical review or Brendan Campbell’s review on Inside Pulse Movies with several more to follow, I’m sure.
1. For the “serious” superhero movie franchise, they surely did go over the top with the comic book action. Whether it be the opening plane on plane assault or the turning of Gotham into No Man’s Land, the action set pieces easily make this the most comic-like of the trilogy.
2. The casting here is phenomenal, with even Anne Hathaway doing an absolutely great Catwoman (almost said stellar, but that’s a bit too strong), but the writing lets them down often, especially in moments of gravitas, as almost everyone has a pithy one-liner ever single time. When delivered right these are earned moments of levity in the face of incredible odds, but when done constantly it not only makes everyone sound the same, but cheapens the impact of major moments. The one exception in Michael Caine’s Alfred seems intent on re-enacting Adrian’s role from Rocky IV, shrilly screaming,“ It’s suicide! You’ve seen him, you know how strong he is! You can’t win!”
3. The early part of this plot hinges entirely upon the conclusion of The Dark Knight, but we have two major concerns not addressed from that movie. A) There is simply no adequate reason ever given that Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent’s death at the end of the film. The Joker could easily have been blamed for killing Dent before the final confrontation with Batman and then Batman could resume his erstwhile activities. This had to be addressed and never was. B) I know it’s a conscious decision, but The Joker had to be mentioned here. When the previous film’s antagonist is sent to jail, then a major plot point of this movie is freeing everyone in jail, someone should at least note that The Joker is free, even if he, for obvious reasons, isn’t to appear.
4. We go an awfully long time without seeing Batman in this, but he at least shows up in a pretty cool manner. The movies never get around to playing Batman as a detective, one of the few misfires, but as the urban vigilante who makes a difference on a large scale. This does wonderfully in dealing with how he is the true symbol for hope that it was once believed that only Harvey Dent could be. That’s undermined a bit by the lie at the end, sure, but that felt more tacked on for Hollywood than anything else.
5. Bane is done phenomenally, with his classic origin tying very well into the League of Shadows. He’s simply Bane’s normal character rolled into Ubu, the bodyguard of the Al Ghul family. And the famous backbreaker scene? That gave me chills.
6. Never one to tread lightly on his themes, Nolan really goes all in on the jail with the light of hope. Still, despite the miraculous recovery (he is Batman after all), these are some of the better scenes in the movie. We intersperse all out No Man’s Land with Batman deciding and learning to be mentally better and stronger. It’s so good that I’m willing to overlook the deus ex of Bane dumping Batman the one exact spot where Batman might learn Bane’s weaknesses.
7. Much will be made of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake potentially becoming Robin to further this series. It’s where the movie leaves off, but in movie-verse logic, unless he wants a swift death, it’s a terrible idea. Batman is a freaking ninja (and seriously, how much of the explanation for crap he does in the comic or movie “well, ninja?) and Blake is a really good cop. Being a really good cop in body armor with all the insanity around Gotham is a good way for John Blake to end up Jason Todd’d.
8. If you read comics and couldn’t figure out Miranda Tate was Talia, please turn in your card at the door. She had an accent despite being from Gotham, she’s Bruce Wayne’s unearned love interest to the point where she’s either tacked on for that purpose, not a Nolan move, or the antagonist, the baby was never referred to with a gender, and, most of all, Grant Morrison just pulled this same trick in Batman RIP and then again in Incorporated. Besides, how unfair would it be if a vision of Ra’s Al Ghul gave away a major plot point?
9. It’s touched on earlier, but Anne Hathaway really did humanize Catwoman well. She’s selfish, but not insanely so and has moral reasons for her actions. Batman, too, is humanized by this movie. TDK focuses largely upon Batman as a symbol and the competing ideologies of he and The Joker or he and Two-Face. The villain does less to strip the symbolism of Batman here and more to strip his humanity. Regaining that, after last movie’s tragedies, and then letting that redeem the symbol, are ultimately what make this movie powerful, despite it’s flaws.
10. Rating? Do you care? Either you’ve seen it and, in all likelihood, loved it (judging by the chatter as I left the theater), or you will see it and simply don’t care about spoilers. This is going to make a metric ton of money and happy customers. It’s flawed, sure, but an absolutely fitting end to the Trilogy, especially thematically. It falls short of The Dark Knight largely because no one is nearly as inspired as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but is still both good and satisfying: 8/10