So, based on my arbitrary and rather limited list of things this movie had to do, did it succeed?
Did it have a great opening?
Did it have a great villain?
Does it have epic moments?
Does it have nifty, quotable lines?
Does make me feel something?
The answer, is a qualified yes; oh, yes; absolutely, yes; sure does, yes; and an unqualified, unreserved, oh yeah, baby, oh yeah.
The Dark Kight Rises is as good or better than the 2nd and though it has some flaws, the genius of this movie is that it’s a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Not just another 3rd movie with same hero, this is the climax of a story, a story told in three parts, a story that has a beginning and a proper end.
Simply put, see it.
If you want the complete experience, see the other two first, then see this one.
See it in IMAX. See it with a geeky friend who had read other comics or graphic novels. See it with someone who hasn’t. Just see it.
Oh so many reasons and most of them if I told you, I would reveal too much of the story, too much of the plot, and I would spoil too many of the great moments in the film.
Sure it has some holes, some flaws and there at times that I can’t hear what Bane is saying but this is not your fluffy, let’s dress up in costumes and fight the mutated villains kind of story. This is a character-driven story, villain and hero alike, one filled with beautiful imagery, great symbolism and yes, it may even be a bit subversive.
It is the Tale of Two Cities brought to a very dark place, where sacrifices are often made but not often honored, where evil is just another way of thinking and where what’s at stake is not just the soul of a city but entire population.
Is opening great? Sure. It’s awesome in fact, especially when seen in IMAX where you can actually hear what Bane is saying. It does suffer a bit from the ‘why do something so complex?” problem but whatever, it was fun.
The villain is fantastic. Bane. Played by Tom Hardy. He’s not a big guy but he has he bulked out and he acts, yes acts, like a huge man, stomping around, showing off his massive arms when he hooks is thumbs into his collar. He’s shot so that we’re usually looking up at him or shot so that he FILLS the screen, a gigantic presence, calm and menacing at the same time. Listen to the music they have chosen for him. Look at how much Tom Hardy does with his eyes, his posture, his body language.
And there are great moments in the film. Chris Nolan understands those moments, when there needs to be sound and when there needs to be silence, when there needs to darkness and when there needs to be light, when fire of hope must contrast with the cold, cruel despair of winter. So many great moments. (More on those another time, after the entire world has seen the movie 3 times.)
There are lovely, quotable moments. “You only adopted the darkness,” Bane tells Batman. “I was born in it.”
Now that’s not just cool but full of meanings. Again, so much there, the dialogue so well written, so well-acted, the scenes so done so perfectly that it pops out quotable moments like the Octomom popped out kids.
Lastly, do you feel something at the end? I did. Though, to be fair, this is my kind of movie and this may not be everyone’s experience. I laughed where I should laugh, got all teary where I was supposed to get teary and, as the credits rolled, I felt like it ended, well, the only way it could have ended.
The characters, of course, were the key to feeling anything at all. And not just the main characters. The supporting ones as well. Anne Hathaway as Cat woman was fantastic (though I would have poo-poo’d that choice had anyone asked me.) Michael Caine brought heart and humanity to Alfred, a man who was not a doddering butler but Bruce Wayne’s guardian and conscience. And, let us not forget the brave cop, John Blake (played by 3rd Rock’s Joseph Leonard Gordon-Levitt) who discovers batman’s secret. They all help us to feel more than we should for a comic book movie.
But I was also struck by the idea of both villains and heroes being changed forever by death of the ones they loved. A way to deal with the pain and loss. The grief. Become something good. Or not. And at the center of those decisions is Batman, coming upon fork after fork in his road, the harder choice, always the harder choice… to do what is right.
Granted, this movie may not be for everyone but there is actually something FOR everyone in it. Don’t like massive, epic battles, listen to what they did with the sound track or see how they tied up the themes introduced in the first movie or just sit with a fan afterwards and let them regal you with all that was great about the movie for them.