My rather EPIC review for a truly epic conclusion to this franchise. I wonder if anyone will read the whole thing
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:
Finally, after waiting for four years, a bike accident and after watching The Dark Knight Rises twice already I’m ready to write a review for the movie. Let me start by saying that it would be different if I had written it after my first screening but I will get to the whys later. I guess right now it would be best to explain my approach towards the series, the main protagonist and the director.
My interest in Batman began after watching the Tim Burton movies in the early 1990’s. I was a little child back then, about 6 or 7 when I first saw the first two flicks. They were pretty dark, yet simple when it comes to plot structure and made for a great transition for me, from Sesame Street and Cartoon Network to hard R action movies, thrillers and horrors. I probably could say that they helped me grow up, especially combined with the superior comics and the animated series, and thus Batman remained my favorite superhero and fictional figure. You can imagine my excitement when, after those dreadful Schumacher movies (though they’re much better when I see them now), I saw Batman Begins in 2005. That year I was already an adult and fittingly enough I got an adult approach towards the character and his mythology, which absolutely blew me away with its cinematography, acting, plot, twists and grittiness, which by now, to be honest, is overused and misunderstood in terms of Nolan’s films. The director said this about the first movie: “We’re able to do what I always wanted to do, which was to have a relatively recognizable world were Batman is an extraordinary element.” And these are the words I always had in my mind when I watched his movies – they’re not reality based, they are full of impossible scenarios, with a little of Hollywood and comic book magic, but they are just set in a world that feels true to what we know, in which the events from the film could happen with an additional sense of wonder. It combined the best of both worlds in my opinion and that’s why I gravitated towards this vision instead of others. Batman Begins made me come back to comic books and the superhero genre after many years but it also mesmerized me to the point when I became a huge Chris Nolan fan. The same week that I saw his first Batman movie, I saw Memento (I know I was a little late to the party even by then but bare with me), which before felt like a pretentious, artsy-fartsy film from the trailers. How wrong was I! Although I am not the biggest fan of Following, Insomnia and Inception, I again have to thank Batman for introducing me to one of the best directors out there today, one which I might have never known if it wasn’t for BB.
Three years later came The Dark Knight, the movie which, until 2012, was the most anticipated movie of my life. I guess if you were born in the 60’s or 70’s you could easily compare it to the excitement you had for Empire Strikes Back – it was simply THE movie to look forward to and much like that movie, The Dark Knight did not disappoint, in any way whatsoever. I remember when watching the movie for the first time that it’s not as good of a Batman story as its predecessor but its simply a better movie. It still stands true for me, because as much as I loved BB for focusing almost exclusively on the main protagonist, I loved The Dark Knight for the exact opposite. And that’s what’s great about this universe – his villains are as exciting as the hero, they can even make more sense at different stages of the movie and it definitely does not surprise me that someone would prefer the Joker or Two-Face to the main protagonist. That is what makes them so much more interesting in the movie, because thanks to those feelings that we, the viewers, have we can relate to the henchmen who would be affiliated with the Joker, who would see a point to his madness. The boundaries between the hero and the villain are blurred even more in the already classic interrogation scene, where through the eyes of Batman we see that, for a split second, even he can understand the man “ahead of the curve”. As much as the first movie was a test of Bruce Wayne in terms of being a legend and a symbol, the sequel was a test of his endurance, both physical and mental, and there was no better examiner than the Joker. Now at this point I would also like to confess something and explain myself. I try not to make it a secret that The Dark Knight is my favorite movie of all-time but that does not mean I consider it the best movie. It has its faults. Hell, I don’t think it’s even the best Nolan movie, as I consider Memento a true masterpiece. If it wasn’t for the character, Batman Begins would be a 9 and Dark Knight maybe, just maybe, a 10 (which still is a huge accomplishment in my eyes). But! But since it is Batman, it gets the extra points and I’m not ashamed to say it. The lone fact that The Dark Knight was such an amazing movie about my favorite fictional universe I think more than justifies the movie’s position in my personal rankings. And on this knowledge I would like to get to the final movie.
Like I said, I was waiting for this movie for four long years, I even had to wait a week longer, after the US release, which was probably the longest week of my life. By now you can probably imagine the level of anticipation and the level of expectations that I had for this movie. But even with all that, I kept myself completely spoiler free. With the accidental exception of knowing that Liam Neeson is in the movie, I had only seen the first 1 minute teaser and only one trailer for the movie. I didn’t look for any photos, spoiler-ish news or even interviews with the cast and crew. I knew how Bane looks and sounds like, how Catwoman looks like and that there be Batplanes – that was it. When the judgment day came, I bought a ticket to the closest city with an IMAX cinema (there are only five of them in my country), I travelled 150 miles and sat down in the best seats in the whole theater. As I was watching the movie it became a rollercoaster at the beginning – I liked some of it and some of the movie felt awkward, my excitement started dropping by the minute. Then came the big fight between the hero and Bane, which was simply fantastic, then came another long streak of ups and downs, then came the final battle, then came the beautiful aftermath and the conclusion and then the movie ended. I didn’t know what to feel. During the movie I was moved by it, I laughed, I was entertained, I felt intimidated by Bane and for some reason I felt underwhelmed. The ending really made me like the movie, as it was not only a fitting conclusion to the saga but also to the Bruce Wayne storyline, which was very important to me before the movie, as I felt a connection with this rendition of the character after all those years. But still, there was this feeling that something was off, that the movie is simply not on par with the rest, that it even felt out of place. I began asking my friend, with whom I saw the movie, what that problem was exactly and he didn’t had any problems with the movie. Then again, he wasn’t as big of a fan of the series as I was, so I decided to look for the cons for myself. However, as we talked on our long way back home, I began noticing that I actually liked the movie more and more than I immediately thought. That maybe there was nothing wrong with it but rather with my expectations or my imagination. I began thinking that the things that felt rushed and unnecessary where actually relevant in the end and that what felt nonsensical was actually a great nod towards the comic books and the movie itself was more of a throwback to the fantastical aspects of the first movie, than the crime-drama elements of the second one. So I thought to myself that I didn’t have that great of a time with it as with the other movies, but I still liked it and I can’t stop talking about it, so it really wasn’t a huge disappointment. I decided to go for a second time, but before I could I see it I had a nasty accident that forced me to stay in bed and take as much painkillers as I could. No exercise, no work, just laying in bed and waiting until my body feels better. After a week I was able to come back to the cinema, sporting a Bruce Wayne-like cane and after many hours of pondering about what I felt of the movie, I was ready to see it again with a fresh mind. To my delight, the beginning didn’t feel so rushed, the scenes didn’t feel like jumping back in forth, the battles felt as good, the revolution as dramatic and bleak as I hoped it would and the climax still as impactful, if not more. During my second screening I cried, I laughed more, I was entertained in a bigger way, I still felt intimidated by Bane’s presence and what’s most important I didn’t feel underwhelmed anymore.
In my opinion, one of the movie’s greatest strengths is the cast and how well they can portray their parts not only in regards to the comic book universe but also to this movie’s universe. Even more so then before, the characters feel like an amalgam of what we would see in a more realistic surrounding and in a comic book. Probably the best performance is given again by Christian Bale, as he shines once more in the role and he is arguably better than in the first movie for which he received so much praise. The movie basically combines three extremely different comic book plots and his rendition of Bruce Wayne serves justice to all of them. At first we see him as the older and weaker recluse without any signs of the man he used to be – he is simply a man without a purpose in his life. Then we see him finding that purpose once more, or more precisely that purpose found him, and he shows glimpses of what he has been. We also see him broken and defeated and then rejuvenated and determined. Every transition seems seamless and rationally motivated, whether by an attraction to a tempting thief or a young cop who shows signs of what Bruce used to be or just by his love for the city, his family and his friends. At the end of the day he is not a hero, he is definitely something more – a legend. The other standout is Tom Hardy’s Bane, who, from what I have noticed, has been getting the most mixed reviews. Well, he is praised a lot, definitely more than he is criticized, but he is made fun off a lot, which I get, and compared to the Joker, which I don’t get at all. There is a reason why The Joker is Batman’s ultimate nemesis, there is also a reason why Heath Ledger got an Oscar for his performance. I’m sure if Heath was still alive he would play a big part in the conclusion of the Dark Knight saga, but sadly Nolan had to think of something different. And here comes the point of my second confession – I never really liked Bane as a character. Not only in comparison with the Joker, because there’s no contest there, but also as a character in itself, he always felt to me like too over the top, like an extreme villain. Stronger, smarter, better, faster, there was very little originality to him. He was always to Batman what Doomsday was to Superman, just a vessel to destroy the hero, without much depth. And this comes from a man who started reading comics almost exactly as Knightfall was all the rage. But what Nolan and Hardy did here is something amazing, they made the intelligent brute feel real and what’s even more important compelling, especially when considering the often debated ending to his storyline. They have created arguably the greatest villain in cinema history in the previous installment but they also had a lot of the work done for them by the comic books. The Joker was a classic character even when portrayed by Jack Nicholson, while Bane has never made an impact aside from Knightfall. In this movie he is, however, far more engaging. Hardy shines in action scenes, thanks to his physical performance, and he also shines in his dictator role and as a leader to the League of Shadows. Bane’s methods are believable, his actions spectacular and his moments of terror are further stressed by his physical dominance and ruthlessness. He is like a historical tyrant that is enhanced by his strength and thrown into the universe of Gotham City. Great villain and a terrific performance.
As for Anne Hathaway, there’s one thing I like about her. And it’s not directly connected with this movie but rather with her overall experience and understanding of acting and Hollywood. I don’t know how the casting for this part went, that’s for sure, but I have to guess that when she screen-tested with Christian Bale, she was one of the few who realized who is the star of the movie at this point and that she needs to work on a great chemistry with Bale instead of pulling of gymnastic tricks. I think that is why she got the role and it would be a sign of how mature she is. Because if I have to be honest, there are actresses who would probably pull off Selina Kyle well in many different ways, maybe even better, but few that would have such a connection with Bale on screen, but Anne nailed it. Many say that Miranda was the romantic element of the movie but it clearly was Catwoman. She was the one to catch Bruce’s attention, to enchant the hero without actually trying to. The scenes at the ball, then their partnership, then the betrayal and finally her redemption make for a full and interesting character arc. Other than being a good companion for both Bruce and Batman, Selina is also a great actress herself. She can easily switch between many characters, an intimidating figure, a formidable fighter, a damsel in distress and a temptress and to my great surprise she is much better at it than Marion Cotillard. She might not be the game changer I hoped she would be, but she is definitely more than just good. The rest of the cast is also stellar, especially the returning Gary Oldman and Michael Caine and the newest addition Joseph Gordon Levitt. Oldman is especially great here, as he seems to get better and better with each installment and his storyline is basically as important as Bruce’s is in terms of this saga. Here we see him depressed after years of lies, secrets and family troubles. I would even consider him being borderline suicidal at the beginning of the movie, as the cathartic letter he wrote further emphasizes this theory. When the truth comes out and his friend is back in action he is young again, he, as much as Batman, has regained the purpose to live, to fight for his life and the life of the citizens. Michael Caine is underused in this installment but when he is on screen, he basically dominates his scenes and during the emotional scenes he packs an extra punch that makes a dramatic situation, a tragic one. For me he is the viewer. He is how I felt about Bruce in this movie, his vision of Bruce’s future life is what I wanted it for him. Other than that he remains a father figure to Bruce, who is also his closest friend and as the hero stresses he never really knew his value until Alfred was gone. We as viewers also learned this lesson. Nolan did it the hard way but that is why that last couple of scenes with Michael Caine are so emotionally draining, in a positive way. As for Gordon Levitt I was never a huge fan of his acting. He seems like a really likable guy, but he never wowed me, excluding maybe Mysterious Skin, Hesher and 50/50. He doesn’t do that here either but that is not a problem at all. He is supposed to be a quite character, that echoes a young Bruce Wayne, but never takes away any of his spotlight. I will admit that during my first viewing I didn’t really like the character that much, maybe because I had a feeling the movie would end very pessimistically and that he would be the hero in the climax. But after the movie ended and after that actually clever easter egg I think Gordon Levitt couldn’t have played it better. He is as important to the story as he should be and as minor as I wanted him to be. Having John Robin fight alongside Batman in one scene was an extra touch by Nolan. For everyone that complains about his real name or that he is not like his comic book counterpart, just remember how that character was portrayed in the Schumacher movies. Remember? Yeah, my point exactly. As for the other cast members, they’re as good as they usually are in Nolan movies. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman once more, he has a couple of good lines and he is perfect for the part once more, Matthew Modine is okay as the Gordon-wannabe policeman, while Ben Mendelsohn and Aiden Gillan chew up the scenery and feel perfectly suited for their respective small parts. As for the two big cameos, I’m not even going to get into much of them, because both actors are great in their parts as always, even with the limited screen time. I will just say that the appearance of Crane is a fantastic nod to the series and the fans, since everyone seemed to get a kick out of it. It also has a big role within the universe, as it allows for more interactions, even if not direct, between the villains, something that was always great in the comics and in the second movie, when we got the scene with the Joker and Two-Face.
To continue the discussion about the characters in The Dark Knight Rises it feels more than suitable to turn to the many romantic relationships within the movie, which are much more relevant and numerous than in previous movies. There are three onscreen romantic relationships in the movie that have an impact on many plot twists and basically structure the whole story. First of all, we have the obvious lovers angle of Bruce Wayne and Miranda Tate. It’s not really a proper two-way love affair, since Miranda is the clear instigator of their growing relationship. At first Bruce couldn’t be less interested in her and it is only at his most loneliest that he succumbs to her charms. At that point it was his low point in the movie, he was left by Alfred, who also dug out the pain the loss of Rachel has caused in Bruce’s life, he lost all of his fortune and the future of his company was at jeopardy. It’s definitely not love but rather a selfish emotional reaction on Bruce’s part that makes him so vulnerable for Miranda’s advances. That and the fact that Marion is freakin hot as always. Maybe it is not the most romantic of stories but it is very believable and thus makes the betrayal rather effective in my opinion. The second most prominent relationship is the Bruce Wayne-Selina Kyle dynamic. I already mentioned most of what I should here when discussing Anne Hathaway’s performance but I would just like to add that Bale’s performance made it feel like he became fascinated with her at first sight and her skills, mysterious origins and ambiguous motives made her even more attractive to him. As for her angle to their story, well she had to grow into him and it also felt believable. He gave her second chances, he always believed in her throughout the movie. Trust, forgiveness and the sacrifice that Batman makes are rational reasons as to why Selina would ultimately side with the Caped Crusader. The relationship that was least discussed in the movie but that is most interesting to me is the one between Bane and Talia. Many people had a problem with the big reveal of the movie but in my opinion it definitely enhanced both characters instead of diminishing Bane’s importance. How could it actually diminish anything Bane has done till that point. He was the leader of his personal army, he was the most feared warrior in the movie and he completely took over the city. What was added in that reveal was just an extra dimension to the character. Up until that moment he was a brute, who played a revolutionist but all that he ever wanted is vengeance and destruction. We didn’t really know his motivations, other than avenging Ra’s Al Ghul, which isn’t that exciting if you ask me. Love on the other hand, even though it is a clichéd motivation, it is still very primal and effective in terms of storytelling, especially from the villain standpoint. Furthermore there’s a question what kind of love it was. It is mostly implied that he was just Talia’s protector, but a romantic affection is not out of the question and would add to the creep and demented aspect of both characters. I also would not say that he was just a pawn in Talia’s hands, they felt more like a criminal partnership in the vein of Bonny and Clyde, only more extreme, more evil and more ambiguous.
Now comes the review of the story itself and of the tone of the movie. I was actually surprised how many storylines and single panels it used directly from the comics, especially the three most influential ones in my opinion: The Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall and No Man’s Land. I really liked that the combination of them felt like a genuine, new story in itself and the addition of the extra subplots only added to the sense of freshness. I guess the neutron bomb is a cliché, but it is just a mean to push terror even further. The detonation wasn’t the punishment, the fall of Gotham was the master plan and this was executed by Bane to perfection, with a help from Nolan, who showed us scared cops, a ghost town where everybody is afraid to come out and finally maniacs in love with the social revolution in the city. Coming back to the beginning of the movie, I wasn’t a big fan of having Bruce Wayne been gone before the events of the movie, it felt like it would diminish his importance in the eyes of the history of Gotham. Batman working for basically 2 years? Max? That’s not epic at all. But after watching the movie, after seeing where the character is at the beginning and how he ended I think it was really fitting. Bruce Wayne is without a purpose in his life, waiting for something to go bad in a city that is extremely quite and its major problems lie in finances, something that he never cared for. The people that do care about the rotten situation in Gotham are actually the ones that influence Bruce to come back – Blake, Selina and Bane. All of them show interest in what is going in the city in their own ways. Blake is of course the least extreme viewpoint, as he simply sees people struggling in the city, in search of a hero that is long gone. Selina is disgusted with the lifestyle of the rich people, not having much for herself. Bane of course is the main villain, who tries to show the city that it is run by a repressive system, that all of their peace is based on a lie and that regular citizens have lost control over their lives. Naturally he is no liberator but it is never implied that he doesn’t believe in what he said, he just wasn’t there to do that but to torment and oppress until the day would come. The last straw for Bruce was Gordon, an old friend that needed help. All of this made him think the city needs him once more so he decided to come back. Sadly without much preparation, with a body that’s failing him, he was doomed to lose and he is in fact left broken and defeated. That personal story then diverges into two new ones – the story of the repressed city and of the fallen hero who tries to find his way back on top, both literally and figuratively. In my opinion both are very effective even if one of them is logically extremely far-fetched. The end serves not only as a conclusion but also as an explanation to many of the subplots – who was the mastermind, why did Bane attack the city, what was the importance of the Bat, Gordon shows once more why he is so important to the trilogy, why did we follow Foley at all, what was Selina able to do that would finally define her, why did John Blake seem so important, why was the story about Italy ever mentioned and finally that often mentioned auto-pilot. It all came into play in that stunning conclusion that left me speechless and felt perfect for this universe and its hero. Nolan took us on an emotional ride for the last 5 minutes of the movie that I can’t imagine could be done better.
Technically the movie is very good, much like any collaboration between Nolan, Pfister and Zimmer. What I liked most about this part is the art design and the landscapes it uses. The city feels the way the director wants it to, it might feel rich and glamorous, especially when we follow Wayne at the beginning. It is poor when we switch to Selina and the places she hangs out. It is further stressed by switching the focus from Wall Street to the sewers of Gotham. It also feels more otherworldly than in the case of the previous movie. In The Dark Knight, the city felt like a rich, modern urban area and here we have a dark and gloomy metropolis, that feels like it is divided into two extremes. The establishing shots are also striking, starting with the prologue to the movie. My favorites, as always in the series, are the ones of Batman towering over the city, looking after it. If I’m not mistaken there’s only one such shot in the film but it is on par with the ones from the previous movies. There are also a couple of camera angles that I found particularly captivating but I won’t be able to count all of them and they would make an already overlong review seem even longer. I should just add how I liked the vast majority of action sequences. The prologue is an intense piece of filmmaking, where an incredible number of stunts happen in mid-air. I have no idea how it was shot, but that whole fictional plan was interesting in itself. Then we got a couple of Batman appearances before the climax. His return in the chase sequence was great, even if a little short. We even got another funny nod to The Dark Knight Returns in that sequence that I really appreciated. Batman and Catwoman fighting alongside each other and still showing their character traits in their fighting styles was a nice touch and there’s also another double team that is so much more fun when you see it for the second time – the Batman and Blake team up. Then there’s Batman storming the sewers and it uses a number of tricks by the hero and the filmmakers that are either new to the series but true to character and a nod to the first movie. And of course there are the two fights with Bane, which are the absolute stand-outs in the entire trilogy. They are easily the best two fights we have seen, especially the first one. We see the dominance of Bane and Batman’s first confrontation with an overwhelming opponent. Both are in character at that point in the movie and work perfectly. The actors do an amazing job, Hardy with his physicality and confidence. When Batman is lured to the trap and is directly facing the monster that is Bane I really felt the dread, I knew something bad was going to happen and it all was pretty eerie - the setting, the opponent, the no escape scenario, it felt like something from Elm Street. Bale, as Batman, tries to find the animal in himself, to match the same level of ferociousness that Bane has. He pumps himself up in many different ways and when all fails, he is forced to use his old bag of magic tricks, which ultimately become the nail in the coffin for him. The second fight is also really good, as it shows the growth of Batman, both mental and physical, he is much more prepared for the fight, knowing Bane’s weakness and the line that he delivers at the end is an awesome, crowd-pleasing retort. I did prefer the first fight though, because the second one was rather short and it really shouldn’t have been cut at any moment. Plus there’s nothing that would challenge the back breaking scene. Zimmer’s score for the movie is stellar as usual. The new themes work well, especially the Deshi Basara one and the Catwoman theme. Where I felt the score was most effective were the prologue, Bruce’s emergence from the prison and the conclusion, in all of which the music gave an extra layer of excitement. Other than that I will agree that for the most part it is nothing new and mostly uses the same themes that were present in previous films. It’s not a bad idea, since it gives a sense of continuity to the series but it is also nothing to write home about. One last thing I would like to add in this department are the costumes. There is no new Batman costume this time, but both Bane and Catwoman look great and it really helps in the overall reception of those two. Bane is notably different than any other rendition of this character, but for the first time he really looks intimidating and he looks like a character that can be taken seriously instead of a luchador in black leather pants. I hope they can somehow translate this look to the comics and I guess a lot of props have to go to Lindy Hemming for that design. Thank you.
Now comes the time when I have to write the things I actually didn’t like in this movie and they are not just nitpicking. I should say that after my first screening I had a lot more problems with the movie, but they were rather small and unimportant. I didn’t like how at the beginning the story kept jumping from one scene to another, from one perspective to a different one. The editing just felt rushed in order to possibly fit the running time to IMAX standards and thus the pace felt off. It might have been stressed by the fact that Batman was gone and we were left with what felt as a mere cop as the hero at the beginning. Also some of the stunts that Catwoman made rubbed me the wrong way, as they didn’t actually fit the world established in previous movies. The somersaults, the jumping on high heels just didn’t click with me. After the takeover of the city I also felt that Gotham was inhabited by the same 20 people that keep showing up in every scene and as such I felt the aftermath of the takeover should have been longer and more established. But these are the problems that I didn’t notice at all during my second screening or it just didn’t bother me that much anymore. The pacing was good throughout the movie, although still a little tinkered with. It’s just that the movie is more bleak and pessimistic in tone and it needs that slow burn combined with the spectacular aspects of a superhero epic. The mere cop factor was of course a non-factor the second time, since I knew that for this whole time we were watching a Batman and Robin story but in a Nolan universe. It’s definitely more of a nice touch than a flaw in the movie. There was nothing wrong with Catwoman as soon as I realized this entry is more comic book based and a throwback to the more extraordinary elements of the first movie – the EMP device, the clean free energy and the Bat only further stressed this fact. As for the Gotham’s small population it made a lot more sense when I considered what Bane said on the stadium and what happened after he freed the prisoners of Blackgate. People just didn’t want to show their faces outside in a midst of an insane revolution. It is actually very clever when I thought about it and it fits well with the previously unnecessary Foley storyline. People needed a symbol of hope to come outside and that’s where Batman fits perfectly into this storyline. Nonetheless, there are still problems I have with the movie that I can’t ignore or understand and sadly they are rather major ones. First of all, the entire story of the movie seems very predictable for comic book readers. It definitely wasn’t so in Batman Begins, which even though was basically an adaptation of Year One had enough original content to surprise me at different points of the movie, and more notably The Dark Knight. I like that elements of some of my favorite comic books were present in the movie, but lets look back at the movie from Bruce’s standpoint – first we have Batman’s absence, poor health and then the comeback (The Dark Knight Returns), then we have the broken back and rehabilitation (Knightfall), then we have a City under Marshall Law, without it’s hero (No Man’s Land), then there’s the final battle (both Knightfall and TDKR) and finally the fake death of the hero (The Dark Knight Returns). Everything is basically taken directly from the comics and it made the movie a bit predictable. I like how Nolan gave Bruce’s character a different conclusion than we know from the comics, that he skillfully added Catwoman to the mix and that through this combination it is basically an original and fitting end to the saga but I guess I expected more from the previous installments. And now come the two biggies that are connected with each other: Miranda/Talia and the whole neutron bomb plot hole. As much as I liked Bane I thought Talia was a little underused and was more in the vein of less memorable villains from Batman Begins than the great ones from The Dark Knight. Both before her reveal and after, I think she deserved more screen time to actually flesh out the character more and make her more important and understandable due to her own character rather than a simple connection to Ra’s Al Ghul and our knowledge about previous movies. She just doesn’t stand strong as a villain in this as a standalone movie. I don’t blame Marion at all, I think she did everything that was possible with this material but she wasn’t able to shine. Also her death was a little much and unnecessary in my opinion but that’s nowhere near as a big of a problem as her lack of rational thinking. Why did she wait 5 months for the bomb to detonate itself. I understand that she and Bane wanted to torment and punish Bruce Wayne for betraying the League of Shadows and letting Ra’s die. But why wait exactly 5 months. Wasn’t she bored with playing this game after 3 or 4? I normally never care for logical errors in action movies, since they’re just fiction and are there to entertain. And I understand that when Batman unexpectedly came back and stormed Bane and his men in the epic battle she changed her plan to be able to stab him in the back, both literally and figuratively. I get that, I really do. She wanted to see that look in his eyes before pushing that button, but you have to agree that it is incredibly far-fetched. Naturally the same could be said about Joker, the boats and that climax in The Dark Knight. He also could have detonated the explosives when Batman was storming his location but he didn’t. In Joker’s case though, his motivations for not doing anything were much more clear and believable and here’s where I have my problem with TDKR – Joker wanted to play with Batman and his sense of righteousness, he also wanted to teach him a lesson about people. In Talia’s case her lone motive seems to be revenge and it really didn’t suit these sorts of games with our hero. One could also argue that she is too confident in her plan, since in order to save the city, Batman has to pull off a string of impossible feats – saving Fox, Gordon, finding the right truck, save some time before she pushes the button, defeat Bane, chase Talia, then when all of this fails he has to have an exceptionally quick plane that would transport the bomb to a safe zone in a matter of a minute. Yeah, I guess I would be a little confident in myself as well, but still it doesn’t take away from the fact that Batman was extremely lucky that nobody ever pushed the button before this 5 month period and also that he made it to the city just before the time has expired. It might be explained by the sick and irrational minds of the villains that want to blow up an entire metropolis in the name of some silly idea (this is actually quite believable) but the convenience factor is a little distracting to be honest and if you think about it, it is a huge plot hole, one that in my opinion was absent from previous installments.
Yet, when all is said and done, how do we, regular schmoes, judge movies? Based on the entertainment factor, how much we liked the movie and how big of an impact it made on us, of course. So in that case the movie worked for me perfectly as I had a blast with it and it lingers in my mind like no other film in the last couple of years. Maybe for long moments it is grim and it is not always the family friendly spectacle that some other movies of this genre try to be but this is the reason why I love this saga. It doesn’t pander to a specific age group, it’s just a visionary director trying to tell a story, that has been developed for over 70 years, in his own terms and succeeding. His Bruce Wayne is taken on a journey that would not only change his life but also the world that he lives in. He becomes able to scare, endure, come back after a failure and inspire. The adult approach is present throughout the series and thankfully so, because it allowed the director to play with the convention of action movies, mixing them with other genres – a historical epic, a thriller, a journey movie, a sci-fi film and a top-notch drama. It’s highly ambitious and thanks to this mixture of styles the ending always feels like a mystery. The conclusions of both sequels never seem like a sure thing - the hero’s life always seems at jeopardy and at moments, we, the audience, are actually afraid for him. The journey aspect is also spread throughout three movies that compliment each other so well, even though they feel so different in tone and possess different motifs. It’s almost like they were directed by three different people but the blueprint was always there, created and orchestrated by some shadowy figure. I guess it remains a matter of time whether I will be able to put The Dark Knight Rises on the same level as the two previous installments but even if I had more problems with it than with the others, I can’t say it was a disappointment or even the weak link. Right now I am damn sure that I have seen the best cinematic trilogy of my lifetime and that it will probably be a long time before something as beautiful, as epic and as important to me as these three movies comes to fruition and ends on such a high note. I’m sorry Star Wars, but I’m going to have to bump you for the incredible ride that was The Dark Knight trilogy and its emotional ending.
The Dark Knight Rises - 9/10