It would be irresponsible of me to begin this review without acknowledging the tragic deaths that occurred at the midnight showing of TDKR last night in Aurora, Colorado. My thoughts are with those injured in the senseless and unnecessary act. I’d like to hyperlink this tweet that sums up my thoughts perfectly on this entire debacle:
Go to the movies. Take your friends. Be excited.Fear should never win.
— Aaron Fullerton (@AaronFullerton) July 20, 2012
Now, onto something a bit lighter. The text that follows is my review of The Dark Knight Rises, and it is spoiler free. You’re welcome!
In recent memory, excluding Deathly Hallows Part 2, I don’t think there has been a film that has had such high expectations put on it a very, very long time. The hype surrounding TDKR was deafening to say the least and those who did not enjoy Christopher Nolan’s curtain call were very, very loud. Because, well, aren’t they always? To deliver a film that follows the historic legacy that is everything surrounding TDK seemed impossible, and I for one would not have wanted to be Christopher Nolan for the last 3 years. And I’m jumping ahead of myself but if you have seen the film or end up seeing it, I noticed that while Nolan has put a lot of social commentary into the plot of the film, I felt as though he also included some of his own internal dialogue perhaps? There is a line in which – AND THIS IS IN THE TRAILERS SO RELAX BECAUSE IT’S NOT A SPOILER – Catwoman says to Batman, “why not come with me? What else can you give these people? You have given them everything!” or something like that. I digress. But, Nolan more than delivers with TDKR and provides a conclusion that is not only completely satisfying but one that was written long before this series came to fruition.
For many years, I’ve heard the argument that if you take Heath Ledger’s timeless performance in The Dark Knight out of the film, it is not as strong a movie. I’ve had my fair share of disagreements with those who have purposed this idea to me, but after seeing TDKR, they have a point. Kind of. The Dark Knight is a fantastic film, do not get me wrong, but the problem with it and with Batman Begins is that both their third acts are a mess. We can agree and disagree on a lot but go back and watch both and I think we’d all agree. Before you yell at me, I love both BB and TDK but their third acts are, arguably, their weakest parts. When I read some reviews for TDKR a lot of critics said that FINALLY Nolan provides a conclusive film because the third act in this is so strong. I also read some reviews that stated that while this film is great is doesn’t have the magic that TDK has. Here’s the thing: the magic that TDK has is Heath Ledger and his incredible performance. That kind of magic, no other movie has or will ever have, so to compare it to that or say it’s missing what was so obviously TDK’s strongest asset is irresponsible as a film critic because, for me, it’s so obvious what is missing here and what can never, EVER be replaced or topped.
In light of all that, I think Nolan delivers an incredible film that I can only use these specific words to describe: outlandish, overbearing, awe-inspiring, inspirational, goosebumps inducing,emotional, emotionally draining, overwhelming, messy and a masterpiece. Yes, a masterpiece. Not as a singular film, but as the final chapter. Nolan has created a masterpiece for the story he wanted to tell. This is his vision, his Gotham, his Batman, his final chapter and it’s more than evident with TDKR, a film that might be too big for audiences, fans and it’s own good.
TDKR follows a similar story line and pattern to TDK and it retains the messy quality of it as well. But something shifts here and the only word I can use to describe this shift in filmmaking is cohesiveness; this film felt whole. This film felt collective of everything that came before it, during it and whatever could possibly come after it. And I think that’s what I enjoyed the most. And, also, the pacing. I’ll speak for all of us when I say that I was worried when I heard this film was pretty much 3hrs long. I mean, my biggest problem with movies these days is that editors have become super lazy and everything is so long. I mean, Snow White could’ve easily been an hour and a half and the list is endless. But you’re story, you’re vision, you’re movie can be as long as it f-cking wants to be when the pacing is fantastic. NEVER ONCE did TDKR feel 3 hours long. In all honesty, it moves to briskly that it felt just over 2 hours long and if I’m being honest, I could’ve used another hour and not complained. This film, technically, is just a master class in filmmaking. Now, while it has it’s strength it most definitely has it’s weaknesses.
The film’s script is a little…meh. I mean, some moments of dialogue are pure brilliance (Alfred’s many moments with Bruce are just too hard to hand at times) and the stories and commentary Nolan is trying to say is obvious enough without the dialogue, but at times the dialogue kind of falls apart. At times, also, the film doesn’t let you play catch up. It just goes from scene to scene to scene and not all of them feel connected. And then there is Bane’s voice. It’s a little hard to overcome at the beginning and by the end you’re totally fine with it but…it’s ridiculous and loud and not connected to the look of the character. The voice is dubbed, obviously, which is why I feel that way about it. It’s fine, it’s not a massive sore, but it’s still a little messy. But, who doesn’t like a little mess?
And then that’s really about it. I can’t complain. I was fed. As a fan, I was fed. I am stuffed. I can’t stop thinking about it and some of it’s scenes. That football field scene in the trailer? It’s even more relentless as a whole. It’s incredible. And it touches upon so many other things that that is a whole other discussion in and of itself. It’s just a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Physically, Tom Hardy is Bane. I think he does a good job but not a great job but this kind of character doesn’t exactly allow for your best acting showcase. And, again, that voice. Christian Bale delivers his best performance in this franchise. It’s heartbreaking how good he is. Can Michael Caine be given an award always? And then there is Anne Hathaway. She had her naysayers. You know how I feel about her. I am her apologist. And you know what? She shuts everyone UP with this performance. A friend of mine who came to the midnight show last night was her biggest naysayer this entire time but after the movie he told me that 5 minutes in he more than approved of her as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She is everything in this movie. I don’t mean that she is amazing or life-changing but she is everything Catwoman, this particular iteration, should have been. She’s perfect.
So, there it is. The saga is done. It’s the end of an era. For me, this is the vision that Chris Nolan so obviously had in mind the entire time and it’s a vision that completely satisfied me from beginning to end. As a whole, I think I enjoyed it more than TDK and BB combined. BUT, that’s just me. This is how you end a saga. This is how you end a trilogy. This movie feels complete and I couldn’t be more satisfied with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, because his vision, his legacy, his history…this is something we will never see again. Epic. Awe-inspiring. Historic. Well done, Nolan. Well f-cking done.