I tried to avoid spoilers for this review. However, the review might contain a few things that have been seen in the trailers. So, if you’ve watched the trailers, you should be ok. If you haven’t watched the trailers, then read at your own risk.
I liked The Dark Knight Rises. As a Batman movie, as a follow up to the wildly successful, The Dark Knight and as a cap on a fantastic trilogy of movies, in my opinion, this was a great movie!! I still personally like Batman Begins the best, but then again, I like origin stories.
I didn’t feel this movie fell into the usual “third movie” traps: cramming too much and too many villains into the movie (see Spider-man 3 or Batman and Robin for some examples). Make no mistake, this movie had a lot going on, but at just under 3 hours, it didn’t feel rushed or hectic. Nolan took his time with letting the story play out.
The movie drew heavily from stories told in the comics. Specifically “No Man’s Land” and “The Dark Knight Returns”. The movie starts with Bruce Wayne a shell of who he was. A recluse, but still wanting to matter. He is even sporting some injuries from his time as Batman from years before that needed to be dealt with through a leg brace (“Dark Knight Returns” reference).
What I like is that it’s a full 40 minutes before Batman even shows up in the movie, and when he does, he just is there. No hero shot, or huge build up. Unlike the Avengers, where most shots were the “hero shot” eye candy we’d usually expect. Honestly, for a Batman movie, Batman’s not in it all that much. But you don’t notice it, because this is really a Bruce Wayne story. And when he’s in it the scene, that’s enough. One issue: If you are familiar with the comics, those stories and characters, some of the bigger surprises won’t be that big of a surprise…but that’s hard to avoid with any movie from a previous story.
It’s impossible to watch this and not compare it with The Dark Knight. Nolan really was his own worst enemy with this. Everything aligned perfectly to make that movie the monster hit it was. He couldn’t top it, and I really don’t think he tried to. So while The Dark Knight may be a tighter, better written movie, I think The Dark Knight Rises is a great follow-up. Bane is a good villain who is totally different than The Joker. A better choice than if they went with, say, The Riddler or The Penguin. Tom Hardy played it well, if slightly over the top, but since half his face was covered, it worked. Also new to the cast is Anne Hathaway as “The Cat” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as beat cop John Blake. Both really played their roles well, and I was really impressed with Hathaway’s “Catwoman”, although, they go out of their way not to actually call her that….
This movie is essentially, a sequel to The Dark Knight, but not necessarily Batman Begins. When Batman Begins was made, they didn’t know if there’d be another one, so that was a more self-contained movie. However, I like how, through use of flash backs, they really tied all three movies together to form a truly cohesive trilogy. Props to Christopher Nolan for great story telling. (I also like how this is now “The Dark Knight” Trilogy, other than another “Batman” trilogy.)
Regarding the ending, (possible spoiler alert)…I loved it. I thought it tied up things nicely and left room for a potential sequel, although not in the direction that most expected. Granted, if you think about it too much, you might find some questions, and if there was anything to nit-pick, it was that it was too neatly tied up. But again, that’s a small quibble.
The movie was going for Epic Scale, and I think they may have done it. I don’t think it’ll make more money than Avengers, and I don’t think it needs to. Chis Nolan’s The Dark Knight movies re-defined superhero movie as we know them. His latest doesn’t disappoint. Yeah, it’s not perfect, but then again, neither was Avengers. But it was smartly done and very entertaining.
Now, the only question remains, what will Warner Bros do now….