I thought this day would never come. It has been four long years since The Dark Knight was released. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever counted down this long for a movie to come out, especially not waiting four years to do so. Well, there was a four year stretch between the first and second Matrix films, and we all know how that turned out.
I have an untrusting relationship with Christopher Nolan. Don’t get me wrong, I love every film he’s done. Some more than others. But every time I hear about one of his new projects, I get worried. When I heard the director of Memento was doing a Batman reboot, I was nervous. Even until the moment the opening credits started, I was worried. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. After that, I heard he was making a movie centered around two magicians’ dark rivalry. Even though I loved his other films, I wasn’t hopeful. Of course The Prestige blew me away (and actually becomes a stronger movie every time I watch it). A short time after, The Dark Knight was approaching and I couldn’t get past the “I just can’t quit you” cowboy from Brokeback Mountain playing the most classic villain of all time. How dare he step into the penny-loafers of Jack Nicholson! Now, the only thing I can remember about Nicholson’s Joker is that he liked to play Prince a lot.
Do you sense a pattern here?
More recently, I was trepid about Nolan’s original project about a man who commits heists in dreams. It felt like an indie idea that would blow up in Nolan’s face. It turned about to be one of the best films of the decade. And finally, I believe he can do little wrong, but am always worried when his *Shyamalan moment will happen. (*when a true talent loses his mind and makes pure drivel. See also: Lady in the Water). I haven’t been worried that Nolan was going to release a sub-par movie (especially about the Batman) but I think we are all saying “There is just no way this movie can beat the Dark Knight.”
Well, can it?
The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent has been made to be a martyr and Gotham’s police have used his death to deal out justice and nearly eradicate crime from the streets of Gotham. Bruce Wayne has become a hermit, still dealing with Rachel’s death (Katie Holmes, not the ugly one). Both Bruce and Commissioner Gordon have been struggling with the choice to elevate the memory of the man who was once Two-Face. But there cannot be peace for long as a new menace known as Bane rolls into town. Also, Selina Kyle unwittingly brings Bruce Wayne back into action.
I’m going to stop there. There is no need to spoil anything.
This is the best Bale has been in the series. Much like Batman Begins he is out of the suit more than he is in it. He feels more vulnerable, more old. He is bitter and angry and knows that not even being the Batman will satiate his pain. Michael Caine has gone from the comic relief in “Begins” to the emotional center in “Rises.” His scenes were actually my favorite in the film. Gary Oldman is as reliable as ever as the old guard saddled with guilt. Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins the series as the aspiring cop, John Blake, who has an intuition about the truth of Harvey Dent. Much of the movie is dedicated to him, but don’t worry, he is as solid as ever and becomes very relatable.
Onto the villains. Tom Hardy plays Bane as an extremely imposing force. Every moment he is on screen, you know he has complete control. It’s hard to imagine anyone matching Heath Ledger’s iconic performance, but Nolan planned Bane as a great counterpart to Joker’s chaos. Yes, many will complain about understanding his voice, but I didn’t have any issue with it. My other huge worry was the inclusion of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. I didn’t like her motivation in the movie at all. Also her sidekick played by Juno Temple was all but unnecessary. But Hathaway did win me over in the role.
Christopher Nolan has outdone himself as he wraps up the Batman trilogy. And I say trilogy because that’s what it is to me now. It has replaced Star Wars and Lord Of the Rings as THE Trilogy. TDK felt like a sequel to Begins, and this movie brings it full circle in the best possible way. If you didn’t watch the other two movies previous to viewing this one, you will be immediately after.
Is this a flawless movie? No. There is far too much exposition and over explanation. Also I would have liked to see the plight of Gotham’s citizens more. But when a gift like this has been delivered I don’t fault it for its minor shortcomings. I am completely satisfied in how the legend wrapped up. Christopher Nolan deserves a Nobel Prize (forget the Oscars) for giving us a hero’s tale that felt real. If we have much to criticize about the series it’s that things feel comic booky at times. How funny that we think that this series is so real that we get mad if it feels unbelievable even for a moment.
This movie is, IMHO, better than The Dark Knight. It completes the story and the director’s vision of this flawed hero.
Yes this is a long review, but what do you expect. I’m just ecstatic that all the build-up has led to this great work.
Thank you Christopher Nolan. And thank you Batman.
Amen…..I don’t know why, it just felt right.