And now, the conclusion we all were dreading. This paranoia wasn’t one of disappointment, but one of inevitability. Dreading in the sense that, at some point, this Batman saga had to end and we would be left with no more Caped Crusader.
There will be spoilers and as such this will be your only warning.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Due to Heath Ledger’s passing The Dark Knight now holds a place on hallowed ground in movie lore. Whether this is fair or undeserved is irrelevant at this point. Just know that his death shaped the minds of those who watched it. You can’t separate him from the performance.
The Dark Knight reached a plateau that is simply unattainable for anything following it. Christopher Nolan can’t escape the forces that were out of his control and the emotional hype it has caused. The roller coaster has to slow down at some point. And so, he makes The Dark Knight Rises knowing full well it can’t climb out of such a massive shadow.
It spite of this shadow, which Batman loves so much, DKR emerges through it with an excellent conclusion to the trilogy. It is a satisfying end, not a frustrating one. The final act is definitely one of the best pieces in any of the three movies. You are constantly wondering how it will end while it is all weaving itself together so well. Just how will Batman make it out of this one you think.
Now, this isn’t to say that the movie did not have its faults. DKR, fortunately, does not have a direct tragedy in filming to help cover them from criticism. Though the shooting in Colorado nearly qualifies. It is a shame these things have happened during this franchise. Though on the historical side, these incidents have elevated these movies to major events in our lifetime.
I felt that the previous paragraph trivialized what happened a bit too much for my liking so let me elaborate on my thoughts some more.
As a filmmaker myself I don’t know how I would deal with such evil taking place during a movie I had made. It really does ruin the “sanctity” of the theatre. I sat in the theater before the movie trying to find that comfort zone of ignorance and suspension of disbelief. It was hard at first, considering for the first time in a long time I made sure to note the exits. But thankfully that feeling came back to me, which I credit to good film-making. I stood in line at the concession stand before I ordered my drink and thought about how horrible an experience it must have been. With all that energy of opening night, to be so excited with giddy anticipation to see a movie and then to have it all come crashing down in chaos. I just can’t imagine.
I know it is hard to put this train back on the tracks after such a derailing, but I must. I was talking about the movies flaws by the way. Here are a couple of things I found to be rather meh. Now when I say ‘meh’, I mean that in a way that doesn’t make the film terrible, it’s just these things didn’t help the film any.
Bane – Now I’m not talking about the character here. I thought that was all fine and good, though I think his overall plan could have been a bit more intelligent. I just found it odd how everyone knew him pretty damn quick. The CIA agent on the plane had immediate recognition. Gordon told Blake right after his encounter in the sewers like he knew who he was. Blake tells Bruce Wayne, like he should know who Bane is too. Though I’m trying to recall if anyone even said Bane’s name when they dragged Gordon to see him. I don’t know, it just seemed like no one went “wait, who’s Bane?”. Also the sequence where they escape from the stock exchange went from day to night real quick. I thought that was odd, but that was a technical thing I believe, along with it being a rather odd “heist” which is easily reversible.
Robin/John Blake – Joseph Gordon Levitt will make an excellent Robin. Oh yeah, his finding the cave at the end, perfect. It wasn’t dumb like Batman Forever where a house guest in Chris O’Donnell does all his acrobatic crap and slides into the cave like gee-whiz. I just wasn’t particularly happy with the way Chris Nolan made him immediately know who Batman was. I understand the idea behind the character in that he is trying to merge Dick Grayson(robin #1) with Tim Drake(robin #3). I just don’t agree with it. At least not without a bit of lead in. I don’t understand why instead of the random pointless orphan scenes(which should have been just mentioned or flash-backed) you couldn’t have had Blake doing more investigating into who Batman is. This could have culminated in act 3 better.
Miranda/Talia al Ghul – The random one night stand with her after being kicked out of his own company just didn’t sit right with me. I thought there was nothing justifying an attraction there from earlier scenes. Obviously it made sense for Talia’s character once you realized who she is later. Being that she is trying to manipulate Bruce Wayne and all. But it didn’t make sense for Bruce. To me it just seems odd for Bruce Wayne to see someone who is supposed to be a business partner with a clean energy project who helps save his company, as someone to randomly hook up with once she shows up at his door when he is locked out in the rain.
Film Length – I think the movie could have been a bit shorter, the editing and pace were off during the first two acts. Maybe a little less mopey Bruce Wayne in the beginning along with less douchey deputy commissioner Foley calling Blake “hot head” every so often would have been better. It really wasn’t all that important to the overall story. Foley’s character could have been eliminated all together most likely. It probably could have been about 15 minutes shorter and the tempo would have dramatically changed for the better in my opinion.
Ra’s Al Ghul – Just as a side note more than criticism really. I would have really liked to have seen more of ghost Qui-Gon berating Bruce Wayne. I think some more elaborating on his immortality(a brief mention of the Lazarus Pits perhaps) or just making Bruce a headcase while he trained would have been good.
Aside from those things, I think the film stands pretty well on it’s own. It was fun and entertaining, exactly how it should have been. I was impressed with how DKR didn’t try to out do The Dark Knight, just complete it. Chris Nolan could have tried to make it darker and grittier, trying to upstage the second film with more epic action and more shocking twisted behavior. But he wisely chose to go for an ending more about Batman’s legacy to the people and the passing of his mantle. Sometimes less is more.
Christian Bale can hang his cape on the coat rack proud of the legacy he left with it. Christopher Nolan can enjoy the fruits of his labor knowing that he saved a Batman franchise from Joel Schumacher hell. This is the Batman trilogy we wanted for so long and we as fans should be happy we got it. It isn’t perfect, but man, it was a quite a fun ride.
The ride has ended though and this is what I was talking about when I said dread earlier. Away we go…