I am probably the last person on the planet to review this film, but here you go anyway. The Dark Knight Rises is easily the most widely anticipated movie of 2012. More so than The Avengers. More so than The Hobbit. Despite that mass murdering maniac in Colorado, it made $161 million on its opening weekend (which is the third biggest opening of all time, and the biggest if you don't take inflated 3D ticket prices into account). The film has also sparked unprecedented reactions and debates. That's the subject of another blog post though. For now, what did I think of it? Did it exceed the impossibly high bar set by TDK? My review is after the jump.
Before I commence with this difficult task, two introductory comments are in order. I am one of the few people who liked Batman Begins more than The Dark Knight. Yes, the Heath Ledger's Joker was one of the greatest villain performances of all time, but for some reason I felt that Batman Begins worked better as a movie. TDK felt a little too long, and maybe a little too complicated - I'm a brave man to say that - for its own good. Don't kill me, that's my view. I have watched it many many times, and somehow cannot muster quite the love others have. That said, I still think it's an awesome movie. With that in mind, let's talk Rises.
The film is set 8 years after the events at the end of TDK. Bruce Wayne is pretty much a recluse, a loser who stays in all day and walks with a cane (the body has taken a beating). Meanwhile, Gotham is a picture of prosperity, and there really is no need for the Bat Man anymore. If only everyone realized that it is all based on one big lie, and that Gotham is rotting at its core (literally). Enter the new kid: Bane. He is, according to Tom Hardy (who plays him), 'a terrorist in his mentality as well as brutal action. So he’s horrible. A really horrible piece of work. It’s not about fighting. It’s just about carnage with Bane. He’s a smashing machine. He’s a wrecking ball... Anything from small joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. It’s anything he can get away with.' That enough for ya? Bane is my kinda villain. Add to the mix a few new characters, including Catwoman / Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and business associate Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), and the impending destruction of Gotham, and you have yourself a superhero movie. I will leave the rest to you - describing Nolan's Gotham and its characters could take forever.
The most prominent new characters, Bane and Selina Kyle, were what made the movie for me. First off, Bane is brutal, scary and more than a physical match for Batman. A real beast, Tom Hardy once again proves that he is (together with our favourite Fassbender) the best young actor in the business. As for Anne Hathaway, I need to emphasize that she really did knock this one out of the park, putting to bed months of bitching and moaning from naysayers the world over. If any one character stole the show, it was that of Catwoman. Damn, she handles that Pod (the Bat-bike) better than Batman himself (and looks better doing it). I am proud to gloat: I backed her from the start.
Okay so I have much love for this film: in particular Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway (I won't mention them again I promise). Without letting this review get too long, these are the other highlights for me. Hans Zimmer's score is the best of the trilogy. The prologue is INSANE. The ending is perfect. The action is HUGE (as expected). It's complex, without ever seeming that way. I find this element difficult to describe, but all I want to do is see this film again. The Dark Knight did not inspire the same feeling.
On a different note, the way people have reacted to and analysed this film should bear testament to just how highly Christopher Nolan's movies have come to be regarded. That being said, the scrutiny pisses me off. Take for instance the article on SlashFilm entitled "15 Things That Bothered Us About The Dark Knight Rises". It has 689 comments at the time of writing this post. I find it quite easy to respond to each one of the 15 points of criticism, and do not understand why people find it necessary to nitpick these movies but not others. Every story has grey areas. They aren't plot holes, they are grey areas. If you perform surgery on TDKR, yes, you will have questions. Stupid questions. But yes, despite the irritation, I do think there is something to be said about the debate it inspires. Never a bad thing!
To conclude, I would like to say three things: I absolutely loved The Dark Knight Rises. Please see it if you haven't already. Please do not compare it to The Avengers. Please do not hate me for liking it more than The Dark Knight. Please do not drink too much cold beverage before entering the theater. Please do not nitpick. It will harm your enjoyment of any film. Please check in here soon, as I am working on a post which explores what exactly sets Nolan's Batman films apart from any movies ever made. Okay, that was 7 and a bit reasons.
And there you have a review which, upon rereading it, says hardly anything. How do I review a movie like this without stating the obvious? Just watch it already.
9 out of 10