Is The Dark Knight Rises good… absolutely; Is The Dark Knight Rises the best movie of the year so far… 100%; Does The Dark Knight Rises fulfill Christopher Nolan’s statement of being a suitable conclusion to the trilogy… you bet your ass; Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight… I’m not sure…
I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, so if you haven’t seen the flick yet, you should be ok reading this, and I’ll make sure to call out spoilers well ahead of time.
I tried to keep myself in the dark about this movie, up until we saw it last night at midnight, and I think I did a pretty good job. The only thing I regret doing is hunting down the bootlegged version of that opening scene that was shown in IMAX earlier in the year. You know, the one with Bane on the plane. Other than that, I only watched the trailers and TV spots and that was it. And since most of those clips were just recut from the same few scenes, I didn’t feel like they revealed too much. There were plenty of twists and turns throughout the story that kept me guessing all the way down to the very last scene.
Ok, so without spoiling anything to do with the plot and the movie itself, I’m just going to jump right into my thoughts overall and how I feel it compares to the other movies in the trilogy. I loved the movie, first and foremost. Despite some headlines that I read prior, which were unavoidable, I did not think that the first hour dragged and I was not upset by Nolan setting things up a bit. Not everyone took the time to go back and watch the other two films this week, so in order to bring the story full circle, there were some things that were necessary to explain to those that don’t have the other films fresh in their heads. I did think there were a few odd editing choices and a few other scenes that seemed to jump around a bit strangely, but there were really only a few and it’s just me being nit-picky. There were also a couple scenes where Christian Bale just had the dumbest look on his face while in the Batman suit, that I couldn’t help laughing at, which wasn’t good because they were during a few serious scenes. One near the end in particular when he’s standing next to two other characters… trust me, you’ll probably laugh a little inside as well. It’s that face you make when you’re trying way to hard to make a frown… it was unintentionally hilarious to me, but back to the actual flick.
Was the story everything that Christopher Nolan said it was going to be? Absolutely. It was amazingly epic on all accounts and definitely brought the story full circle and completes the trilogy better than any trilogy before it. But is it better than The Dark Knight as a stand alone film… honestly, I don’t think so. Now before you get all upset at me and boycott this site for saying anything negative about this movie, let me explain. The idea behind The Dark Knight Rises is amazing, I love where Nolan took it, I love how things came together and I love all of the twists and turns, there’s nothing about the story itself that I didn’t like, it was merely in the way the storytelling was executed. That’s not saying that Nolan messed up as a director, or that he’s not brilliant, because he is, it’s just merely saying that The Dark Knight was executed better than The Dark Knight Rises in my eyes. And yes, most of that is built upon the fact that Nolan had the backing of one of the most brilliant performances in the last 50 years on screen. Heath Ledger’s Joker performance will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, performance of our lifetime, and you can quote me on that. While Bane is a great villain and Tom Hardy plays the role amazingly, you can’t deny the power of The Joker. The Joker is just more calculated madness and down right twisted, where Bane is far more physical brutality and ruthless violence. Bane has one end goal and that’s the only thing on his mind, but The Joker just wants to toy with Batman in his own sick way.
Now let’s talk the other pieces of the puzzle, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Detective John Blake and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I know a lot of people had their doubts when Nolan chose Hathaway for Selina Kyle, but those same people were the ones that doubted Ledger as The Joker… how’d that work out for you? Nolan knows what he’s doing and you just have to trust him, and if you saw this flick already, you’d know he made a good choice. Hathaway’s Catwoman is perfect. This may be a slight spoiler, but it won’t ruin any part of the movie. I loved the fact that Nolan leaves the origins of the villains out of these movies (for the most part) and just focuses on the story at hand. So the fact that there is no ridiculous cat driven back story to Selina Kyle makes her character even better. I also loved how instead of making her dress like a cat, he took the mask/goggles she wears and made those the “cat ears”, genius. It is just another way to ground these movies in reality as opposed to a supernatural comic book world. And of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt knocks this one out of the park. I was actually surprised how big his role is in the movie. For some reason I went into it thinking that he was just going to be a sub-character, honestly I thought the same about Catwoman, but both end up being integral parts to the plot. Both performances were incredible and I really think Levitt is the star of the show. It’s hard to believe he’s the same dopey, long haired kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun, but it’s no more unbelievable than Marky Mark, from the Funky Bunch, being an award winning actor either… Levitt may be one of my favorite actors right now and I can’t wait to see what he’s got going on in the future. He just seems like a genuinely nice guy and he always seems to love what he does and doesn’t take it for granted. (Looper is going to be awesome by the way). Honestly, if I had to choose the one performance that I thought could use some work, I’d honestly have to say Christian Bale. The other performances in the movie are just that good that it made Bale pale in comparison. Obviously his performance was fine, but comparatively speaking he was on the low end of the spectrum.
So if you don’t plan on seeing any movies this year, I highly suggest that you make an exception for this one. I’m sure you’ve seen at least The Dark Knight, so do yourself a favor and follow it up with The Dark Knight Rises. I will recommend taking in Batman Begins before hand if you have a chance as well, but all in one sitting is not necessary. This is also definitely a flick that needs to be seen in a theater and it may be the first movie I have to go see in IMAX on the 2nd go around.
And finally, for anyone affected by the senseless tragedy in Colorado our thoughts are with you and your families.
Please feel free to comment below and let us know what you thought, but try to keep your comments spoiler free. I will be moderating them and deleting ones that contain spoilers. If you want to have a spoiler filled discussion of the movie you can message us on our Facebook Page or email us at slater.ac [at] acslater.com. We’d love to discuss the movie with those of you that already saw it.