02 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review (some spoilers)

So I finally saw this movie earlier this week - with very little hype or really anything invested in it. I had through a serious amount of self control made sure not to read anything prior to the release, no reviews after the US release, or after the European release. I had only seen two short trailers which really told me nothing about the quality of the movie, and to be honest didn't really pull me in.

So my expectations were low. But that is the amazing thing about Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. I did not think the first one would be any good - it was great. The second one, I cringed at Heath Ledger going to play the Joker - he was fantastic.

Now this one, I wasn't too convinced, there are other more interesting villains than Bane, and I think Catwoman is and have always been a lame character. But this movie is really really good for several reasons, and despite a few minor flaws - some of which are based upon personal preference. It starts out rather weird, and while I was watching I just thought the whole thing was extremely risky even for a "mastermind villain". In the end the whole setup of those early scenes doesn't have an equal amount of payoff, and could have been handled "less spectacular" I guess - but it did make a good setup for the villain "minions" and their mindset.

8 years had passed since the events of the second movie, and Bruce Wayne is something of a recluse cripple - no longer fighting crime, and instead being disillusioned and depressed. Naturally something occurs that more or less forces him to don the costume, despite knowing that he is out of shape. Even Alfred tells him that he is going to get his ass kicked. I really liked this aspect of the movie, Bruce Wayne had to once again find the inner strength to be Batman after all this time.

Batman goes out and gets his ass kicked, the city goes to hell, all of the characters such as Alfred and Commissioner Gordon are haunted by events of the past - the movie is really dark and grim. And usually when a movie throws in a ton of new characters it gets confusing or someone is left overshadowed with little to do - but TDKR is a perfect ensemble piece where you get really invested in everyone and everyone gets enough screen time so as when the shit hits the fan you are not sure who will survive and who's going to be killed before the end of the movie.

Bane as the main villain is really great, and very intimidating with his group of fanatical thugs. The way he manages to play Batman and the city is very satisfying to behold, and the character has a great screen presence about him. I had no problems with either his voice or dialect, I could hear and understand him perfectly well, and think the dialect was to make him sound smart rather than have him growl like a common "bad guy". He also has a very interesting backstory in this movie which lends a lot of weight to him as a character - both before and after one of the twists imo.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young idealistic cop who just manages to suck you in the way you would not think was possible, for a large part of the movie he replaces Batman as the "good guy". Never thought his character would be that interesting but he was great.

Commissioner Gordon, as usual wonderfully played by Gary Oldman is at his best in this movie where he plays a really conflicted character tormented by the knowledge of past events that happened with Two-Face which led to Batmans "exile".

The only really weak link in the movie is "Catwoman", which if I recall correctly never is called Catwoman but the "cat burglar". She is more of a spy/specialist thief than a common weirdo who dresses up in a suit to steal jewelry from people.  The actress that played cat woman is imo not that good, but I also thought that she did not fully fit in with the rest of the dark and serious tone of the movie. She was used as a comic relief in many scenes, and while she had a few great scenes I think she was completely unnecessary for this movie in many ways. The only real reason I can think of having her in the movie was to give Bruce Wayne another character with an impossible "identity" situation with whom he could connect. Luckily she wasn’t obnoxious or too distracting to cripple the movie.

Now back to the movie, it starts out rather slow, and the first couple of minutes are confusing - but once it kicks in - Christopher Nolan is keeping you pumped up with fantastic action, epic events, great twists and the movie keeps you on the edge of the seat for pretty much the last 90 minutes. Much thanks to our knowledge of this being the "last" movie in the trilogy by Christopher Nolan - so anything could happen. But also by the sheer quality of storytelling and directing.

It's so damn refreshing with a trilogy of movies that are all very good , all being different, but in the end connected by a shared story arc - and that is perhaps the greatest achievement of Nolan. This self contained story told through the 3 movies is so damn well made despite each movie having minor flaws. And he manages to end the trilogy in many surprising ways, there are twists I kind of knew would show up, but there are also twists that took me completely off guard. At the end you are pretty much emotionally spent, and I was satisfied. I've read some crap about a few of the end scenes and people growling about a name dropped at the end - but I honestly don't think that it means that the character will become "that guy". Instead I think the movie intended what Batman said in many of his scenes throughout the trilogy is that "anyone could be Batman".

If I could change only one thing, it would be the final scene with Alfred, I think I would have liked it more if it just cut away after he looks into the camera.

So what the movies are really about is Batman Begins = Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, The Dark Knight = Batman at his peak, The Dark Knight Rises = Batman growing old and passing the torch.
In many ways this movie is a perfect full circle and ends where it started in Batman Begins.

Oh, and the music was superb as well, love how each of the movies had its own score and all were equally epic sounding. The chanting theme whenever Bane is on screen is probably the best piece of music in all 3 movies.
Really recommend this one if you liked the previous movies. Can't wait for this to come out on DVD so I can watch all 3 back to back.



  1. I took Junior to see it and we both really enjoyed it. I agree with your views on Catwoamn but as she ended up as the main love interest, we can forgive her (and she looked great in black leather).

    9/10 for me as well.

  2. "If I could change only one thing, it would be the final scene with Alfred, I think I would have liked it more if it just cut away after he looks into the camera."

    So, so totally agreed.

  3. Maybe the weakest of the trilogy, but considering how great the first one was and how amazing the second was, the third still held it own.

    Catwoman, I liked the bit of levity she brought. Having watched the first two the weekend prior to seeing the third, it is a very oppressive tapestry and her slight light-heartedness (for lack of a better word) was refreshing. Also, as far as Cat-women go, she had the most character depth and story by far.

    The end scene, yeah, your proposed ending would work...for us. For the movie-going masses? Maybe not so much, a tad extra hand-holding might be in order.

  4. I really like your movie reviews and this one was no expetion.


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