Thanks to a bunch of cats called The Avengers, my expectations were lowered for The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s previous Batman movies, but I’ve also had several issues with the way the director has strayed from the comics. With lowered expectations and a love for comic-book purity in mind, I was blown away by The Dark Knight Rises. It’s not as much fun as The Avengers and it’s certainly more about Nolan’s interpretation of Batman than the comic books, but it’s a great superhero movie that wraps up this Batman trilogy nicely. Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on The Dark Knight Rises. (Spoiler warning!)
Bane: Let’s get the bad out of the way first — Bane’s voice sucked. He sounded like Goldmember’s serious younger brother. I love the bad-ass South American character in the comics that’s driven by hate and powered by performance-enhancing drugs (this also describes most MLB players from 1995-2003). This movie’s Bane is very different. There were some aspects of this Bane that I liked. His fight scenes were fierce and he was the guy making things happen throughout the movie. I didn’t like that his mask pumped his body full of painkillers instead of performance enhancers. I also didn’t like the big reveal that he ultimately wasn’t the baddie behind all the machinations. Bane deserves his own stage. This version of Bane was a melange of coolness and annoyances.
Catwoman: Anne Hathaway was perfect as Catwoman. This is the Catwoman that I love in the comics — sultry, powerful, vulnerable, and morally scattered. Hathaway knocked it out of the park. If you like the version of Catwoman made popular by Devin Grayson and currently penned by Judd Winnick then you’ll love Hathaway’s Catwoman. To be completely honest, I also enjoyed that she spent a chunk of the movie riding a motorcycle that required her to stick her ass in the air. There were a lot of people that panned this casting choice going into the film. Many of them will owe Anne Hathaway an apology.
Full Circle: I really enjoyed how the movie used elements of the first two films and wrapped them up. Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins live on in Talia al Ghul and Bane. The truth of Harvey Dent’s inglorious fall is revealed to Gotham. Scarecrow shows up…to be cool and creepy. Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul shows up in a hallucination (or Qui-Gon Jin was using the Force in the wrong movie). The movie ties everything together nicely and works splendidly as a finale.
Surprises: I had no idea that was Matthew Modine playing Deputy Commissioner Foley. Dude got old. In my head, I still see the young kid in Vision Quest. I also didn’t recognize Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Garcia. I think it’s hilarious that the guy that played Bat Manuel was in the last two Batman movies. Bwahahahahahaha!!!
Michael Caine: He was awesome, as expected, but he was also a bit of distraction for me. Since Bane sounded like Goldmember, I kept waiting for him to have a scene with Alfred Pennyworth and address him as “Aushtin Powas Faja”.
Batman: Christian Bale was pretty much the same. He was great at “acting” as the flippant Bruce Wayne. His Batman voice was over-the-top. He brought more physicality to Batman than any other actor that has played the character. After two movies, people have already made up their minds about Bale’s Batman. The third movie isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion. Personally, I like him as Batman, but agree that his voice can cross the line from intimidating to ridiculous.
Catwoman: Let’s take a moment to look at her again. Anne Hathaway is stunning.
Fernet: I love that Fernet Branca played a part in one of Alfred’s big scenes. It’s an under-appreciated digestif in America.
Conclusion: If you look at Nolan’s Batman world on its own then you’ll think that The Dark Knight Rises is an undeniably great superhero movie. The storytelling is fantastic and most of the performance are strong. This 165-minute film moves at a brisk pace thanks to some slick action and clever directing. Staunch comic-book purists will have problems with the way some of the characters were rewritten and Nolan’s interpretation of these characters, which is a shame because they’re missing out on enjoying a perfectly fine film by being overly stringent. While I had more fun with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises is a better movie on several levels — directing, cinematography, acting, score, etc. As a summer blockbuster, Marvel’s movie wins. As a film, The Dark Knight Rises is superior.