(Originally written July 24, 2012)
Before I start the review, I feel I should say something about the shootings in Colorado the night this movie premiered. It is very tragic and horrific that someone would do this and it’s another sad chapter in the history of violence in America. It’s terrible what happened to those people and their families all because they just wanted to see a movie. We will see what becomes of the shooter in the months to come. It’s also sad, to a lesser extent, that this movie will probably be forever tainted by the events of that night. I mean, the shootings were on my mind during some of the scenes of the movie that were kinda similar to what happened and it’s a weird feeling. I wasn't paranoid of anyone bursting into the theater and start shooting at us but still… It’s a strange feeling. PLEASE, PLEASE do not argue about this in the comments. I will delete them; comments should be about the movie only. So let move onto the review.
I’ll start off first with saying that I really liked this movie and it is hands down my favorite out of the Nolan Batman movies. Unlike with The Avengers, that opinion isn’t unanimous but you really shouldn't be comparing Dark Knight Rises with The Avengers. Yes, they’re both super hero movies based on comic books but that’s where the similarities end. Batman isn’t going to give you the feel good feel that Avengers gave. Batman is far more bitter sweet and the closing of a trilogy and like the other Nolan Batman films far more realism based than the Avengers. If you sit there comparing them, I’m going to slap you. There is a really good story, powerful acting, epic action scenes, and a very dark mood and setting. It is a long movie. Nearly 3 hours but it doesn’t feel like it. It starts out slow but that momentum just keeps building and the last hour is one hell of a pay off. Don’t worry, I’m going to try and keep this spoiler free.
The story is what stuck out as being better than the previous Nolan Batman films for me mainly because it is very complex and intercut. Now I may be a huge Batman fan but I have been very critical of the Nolan films. I honestly didn’t like Batman Begins, only half of it felt like a Batman movie. The Dark Knight was much better and it can stand on its own without the other two movies for the most part but I feel if you took Heath Ledger’s Joker out of it or had a subpar Joker that it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. Let’s face it, the Joker made that movie be so great. Dark Knight Rises on the other hand, has a story that really supports itself. If you removed Batman and changed the characters names, you’d still have a very good movie here. It kinda reminds me of what Solidus Snake’s ultimate goal was in Metal Gear Solid 2. It leaves you guessing what will happen till the end and wow the ending.. Damn. It’s kinda sad this will be the end of the Nolan films because it would be interesting to see where it would have gone with this ending but I’ll get to that later.
The acting top notch, nothing really seemed out of place and there were some very powerful performances. Christian Bale is of course, Bruce Wayne/Batman. He is Bruce Wayne for a lot of the movie though which may disappoint a lot of people but it works over all I feel. People complained about his dark brooding but I feel it’s justified, especially later in the movie. I always complained about his Batman voice but maybe I’m just used to it now but it didn’t really bother me this time though there were some scenes with him in a room full of people who knew who he was and he kept talking like that. Why? You could’ve just talked normal.. Your vocal cords would thank you. The main villain is Bane played by Tom Hardy who does a really good job being an evil bastard. Now unlike Joker, where we’ve seen many different versions of him preformed over the years, this is the first serious attempt at Bane in a movie. Bane was in the 1995 movie Batman and Robin but everyone knows that movie was just god awful and did the character no justice what so ever. Bane is a cold, powerful, intelligent, calculating enemy, not a brainless muscle bound henchmen. Hardy does a really good job in the role and will certainly gain more notoriety because of it. The movie is based on the Knight Fall story arch from the comics and it does a good job basing itself on it including having a key scene from that story arch that is one of the best scenes in the movie and Hardy does that scene perfectly. Only complaint I have about the character is that his voice sounds slightly more different than it did in the trailers. Some of the things he says sound bad ass….. Other times he sounds like Sean Connery trying to yell through a gasmask. A lot of fans were disappointed that he doesn’t use Venom to give him super strength but I was okay with that since he had that mask giving him anesthetic gas to make him not feel pain, worked the same way pretty much.
Anne Hathaway played Selina Kyle aka Catwoman and does what might be the best Catwoman yet. Everyone thought Hathaway was too young or too cutesy to do the role but she did a damn fine job and acts the way the character does in the comics. She didn’t have a whip or razor claw gloves but she still had plenty of gadgets and tricks up her sleeves and kicked a lot of ass. She made for a very strong female character. There is another female character that is important however a lot of people weren’t too happy about her being there and I have to agree. When it’s revealed who she is, it’s pretty late in the movie and feels a little too forced. Maybe if they revealed who she was early it would have helped but I don’t know. Michael Caine deserves special mentioning for his performance as Alfred Pennyworth. He deserves an Academy Award for some of the scenes he did. I won’t say what they were but he has some real tear-jerking performances in this movie. Gary Oldman continues his role as police commissioner James Gordon and continues an amazing performance. Joesph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake a street smart cop who plays a very big role in the movie but I won’t say what it is. Also a very good performance. Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow makes a brief cameo but his appearance honestly made me laugh but good way as it was clever how they used him.
This has some of the best action scenes in a Batman movie yet. Like I said, the last hour is just freaking epic. I was a little worried about the new Bat Wing as it doesn’t look aerodynamic at all but still turns out to be a really cool vehicle. Batman has plenty of news toys his plays with some kind of EMP gun and tipped bat dart things. The fight scenes with Bane are great. I was super pumped during the final fight with Bane, good god. The ending leaves you guessing and it’s a bitter sweet ending. This movie will leave you with all sorts of emotions. Hopefully good ones. It finishes the trilogy really well.
Overall, you should see this movie. I feel it is one of the best Batman movies since the Tim Burton films and a worthy sequel to The Dark Knight. Bane isn’t as disturbingly fun as Heath Ledger’s Joker but definitely a memorable villain and will probably forever change how Bane is performed in the future. It’s an excellent end to an interesting take of movies on Batman.
What does the future hold for Batman? Well, there is already another Batman reboot in the works. This one is to help set up a future Justice League movie that DC hopes to have out by the middle of the decade. It’ll probably be more comic book like than The Nolan Batman films which feel like crime dramas with Batman involved so it would be nice to go back to the comic book feel that more super hero movies have these days. While it’s supposed to be a reboot, I don’t think it’s necessary to completely retell how Batman became Batman again. It has been done enough; most people know his origin, if you don’t, look it up. I think the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games make for a good model of how a Batman movie should feel especially if they want Batman to be able to exist in a world with other super heroes with real super powers. However, I’m not worried about Batman so much as to DC setting up other super heroes to make Justice League happen. It’s pretty clear that with the success of The Avengers that DC wants to compete with Marvel which is why they want to make the Justice League movie happen. I’m all for that but they have a lot of catching up to do. They are rebooting Super Man next summer but they still need to do something about Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman. Those are quite a few movies to make between now and when they wish to have this movie out. We’ll see.