Wednesday 25 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Epic Conclusion To The Superhero Trilogy

The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, in spectacular fashion with a jaw-dropping jailbreak at 30,000 feet. Super villain Bane crashes a plane and kills CIA agents along with one of his own,  all to obtain the services of one Russian scientist, who had eluded him.Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er Gotham,  they are celebrating Harvey Dent Day (WTF?). It would appear that the Powers The Be in Gotham have created themselves a gigantic bull shit sandwich and are gnoshing with relish at the seemingly perfect world they have fashioned out of lies and corruption. Underhanded dealings are all good when you put the "bad" guys away. In this New World Order, Batman is still Gotham's Most Wanted and everything else, including the League of Shadows, is second banana. Bruce has hung up his suit, mothballed the Bat Mobile and sealed the Bat Cave. He resides at Wayne Manor, a broken, grieving man who is just counting the ticks of the clock until he can either end his misery or find another outlet.

His big depressive brood comes to a halt when Selina Kyle shakes his ass up by stealing his fingerprints and helping herself to his mother's pearls. More scales are ripped away by police officer John Blake, who proceeds to tell him that the orphanage supported by Wayne Industries is no longer receiving aid. Suddenly there just might be some purpose to his existence again. While Bruce finally ditches his pity party, Commissioner Gordon is injured in a seeming random crime gone wrong whereby he discovers a strange underground army forming. Evil is afoot in Gotham and there's going to be hell to pay times ten. It's Batman time.

Oh Dark Knight Rises, how do I love thee? I was strapped in and ready for action from the opening seconds and was impressed to nth degree. Nolan's gritty, relentlessly dark story is perfect for this conclusion. Bruce is the Dark Knight, he's not Spider-man. You want hopeful, fun, go watch Spidey and Lizard man one more time. This is pure doom, gloom and then some. As it should be. There were some slow, lighter scenes, Nolan teasing us for sure, but they were all drama heavy and necessary to the plot. Speaking of... All the twists and threads were mind-blowing and a bit hard to keep track of at times, but ultimately it was okay as everything made sense by the end. I thought Nolan used all the characters effectively, doling out their secrets in small doses for just the right impact There a couple of times I was left looking like a slack-jawed yokel. 

The f/x were dazzling. Not as many as in The Dark Knight, but not necessary for this film. They were just plain cool and hard core, especially the plane escape at the start and the collapse of the football field as poor Hines Ward is returning the kickoff.  Wally Pfister's cinematography is fantastic, allowing the architecture and vibe of Pittsburgh to shine through just like Chicago in the first two.

Image from Ron Phillips

As far as acting. we of course, got the goods from Christian, Morgan, Michael and Gary. They delivered their usual outstanding performances, though I found myself wanting a little more screen time with Lucius. However, Anne Hathaway blew me out of the water as Selina Kyle aka Cat Woman. Holy smokes did she deliver for the ladies and completely erase that rubber-suited slut bag performance by Halle Berry. She was smart, tough, and fast on her feet...In a word, badass. I'm sorry I ever doubted her because she needs her own movie right now. And there was my lovely Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the honest, eager cop John Blake. What a raw, earnest performance. He was a real hero, right up there with Batman. Tom Hardy gave a Herculean effort as Bane, he was scary, enigmatic and brilliant. Did not match the psychosis of Heath Ledger as The Joker, but he was terrifying. And for the critics who kept complaining that Bane and Batman were indecipherable, what movie were you watching? I understood every syllable they uttered. When a movie is this good, though, they need to nit pick.

Nolan totally pulled out all the stops on The Dark Knight Rises. It is an impressive, high-octane, grim action flick that delivers in every way. Is it better than The Dark Knight? No. The story this time was less about Batman and more about drawing closure. In that regard it's like the other third films in the great trilogies out there where the second film is always the best. Empire Strikes Back is better than Return of the Jedi and The Two Towers is better than Return of the King...You get the picture. This is a stellar conclusion to an epic trilogy, though,  and I can't wait to see it again. And again.


The end has many people agog, believing that what Alfred sees at the end is truth because well, the whole autopilot thing. And you know that Nolan loves to mess with our minds and keep us guessing. However, I don't think so. It is an illusion, a dream of Alfred's like the others . Bruce is dead. D-E-A-D. And not metaphorically, either. Why? Well, he's been basically on suicide watch since his parents were killed, but most especially since Rachel. Wayne has never been a happy man, it's not in his DNA. The only thing that gave him purpose was vengeance and that has been eating away at him. He's tired.

Furthermore, Bruce/Batman was stabbed mortally by Miranda aka Talia al Ghul. I thought the Batsuit was supposed to stop knives, but we all saw it go in and her twist it. So yeah, he's bleeding out. He got up, though, and pulled it together adrenaline style one last time for Gotham, like Maximus did for Rome in Gladiator. .Miranda's "keep him alive" was akin to Commodus' "bind him, so no one sees the wound."Anything else would be poor contrivance on the part of the writers and lessons the overall impact. The entire trilogy was geared towards the death of Batman. The Dark Knight had to die for a new one to rise to take his place. Bruce Wayne and his Batman are ash city with no happily ever after. Go ahead and call me brutal, say I'm wrong, but that's what I choose to believe. Some characters, like some people just don't get that happily ever after. They were born to pain and darkness. Period. End of story. It's the way the world works. Then again, there's always reincarnation...


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Agree on all points!
But - I do think he lives at the end and they set it up for Robin. Which is a damn shame, since Nolan isn't doing any more films. Would've been epic.
Why does everyone hat Hathaway, anyway? I thought she was great.

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

I won't be reading your review, because I still haven't seen the movie, but I'll read it at least twice as soon as I back from the theater, which will happen on Friday.

I know it's inappropriate to compare it with The Avengers, but which one did you like better?

FilmMattic said...

Forget 11 and turn up the volume to Awesome because that's how I feel about TDKR and your review! A second viewing is in order.

Maurice Mitchell said...

The movie was awesome. A lot of people didn't like the ending though. It saved it for me.

Unknown said...

@Alex Thanks! I guess I wa mistrustful of Hathaway because she's never dug her heels into a part like this. I should have just trusted her as I love her in everything else she's done. Love the set up for Robin and I hope they keep JGL if they do more films.

@George LOL That's quite all right hon. I look forward to hearing what you think after you get your shot. Thanks for coming by anyway. Hugs! And I have to say this is like choosing between my two favorite ice creams. I can't as I loved both equally for very different reasons. Sorry to be such a super wimp. :)

Unknown said...

@Matt Thank you so much for the high praise. I do want to see this again and again. I saw Dark Knight like three times and this one deserves just as many viewings on the big screen if my wallet can handle it. :)

@Maurice I'm glad that you enjoyed the ending as I did as well. I love that we will keep speculating on it as well. Nolan is just brilliant that way.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Hardy reminded me of Connery in his delivery, especially in: "Victory has defeated you, Wayne."

Hathaway will blow all her critics away in LES MISERABLES as well.

Like Alex, I believe Bruce was alive at the end. It fits with the Frank Miller THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. But I am a romantic. LOL. Great review, Roland

Unknown said...

@Roland Thank you for the great comment! I thought Hardy was a bit like Connery,myself. Love that quote!

I cannot wait for Les Mis, it's one of my favorite stories. I have not read Miller's Dark Knight, but I think I will, now. :)

INDBrent said...

Great review! It's a fitting ending to the best treatment of Batman yet. Nolan touched a lot of areas that nobody had ever pulled out before. Certainly a triumph. I don't know that the film sets up any evidence to make Alfred's sighting an illusion, but I can see why you'd read it that way. I'm ok with it either way. In any event, alive or dead, Bruce isn't Batman anymore, but one of the main themes of the series was the symbolism of the suit. As he tells Blake, "The Batman could be anyone." My read was that Blake was on his way to pick up the Bat mantle.

Unknown said...

@Brent Thanks! I would love to see a film with JGL/Blake as the new Dark Knight. He would be awesome! I'm very happy you enjoyed my review and yes, Nolan did touch a lot of things that no one had done in any of the previous incarnations. All in all an amazing film.

Russell_LDN said...

This comment contains SPOILERS.

Great post!

I loved TDKR and it delivered on every level for me. I think I sat throughout the entire movie with my mouth open because I was just so damn impressed with that I was seeing. I thought it was a perfect way to end the trilogy.

I thought that the setup with JGL was interesting and was surprised with the final shot of the film but thought it fit nicely.

I like your interpretation of the ending, Mel but I don't agree with you. Perhaps I like the idea of the nice tidy ending that was shown, however if you are right and it ended like you said, then I would have preferred Nolan to have driven that point home.

There is only one thing that I didn't like and it's a relatively small complaint. And that is the Talia Al-Ghul death scene, it was one of the worst death scenes I've ever seen. I expected more from Marion.

I've seen it twice and that one scene is the only thing I didn't like about it, everything else was amazing!

Unknown said...

@Russell Thank you! Glad you liked my review and my interpretation of the ending even tough you didn't agree. I think Nolan loves to keep us guessing so he deliberately shot the ending so as to be open for one's own personal take.

Yes, Marion did a horrible death scene. It reminded me of one of those cheesy 80's slasher pic deaths. LOL

I loved the part with JGL going into the Bat Cave, like he was the knew Gotham protector. Could there be a JGL hero flick? I hope so.

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

Wow, I thought your review was better than the movie itself. LOL.

Don't get me wrong, I liked it a lot, but much like its predecessor, TDKR was a bit too serious and not enough comic book-ish for me.

Batman Begins still remains my favorite Batman movie ever.

I just posted my review of TDKR. It ain't as thoughtful and well-written as yours, but it's honest as usual. :)

Unknown said...

@George I just read your review and loved it. We agreed on many points, but disagreed on some as well. I loved this movie, but the Dark Knight is my favorite Batman movie. I really liked Batman Begins, but not nearly the way I loved the final two films of this trilogy. To me that film was more set up than anything like Fellowship of the Ring.

I did not think this movie was too serious at all. I love dark, brooding films that have little or no light to them. To me that is more reflective of the way the world works. People die, people get hurt and there is no hope to look to. That idea is my favorite part of these last two films.

Craig Edwards said...


I agree with everyone here in agreeing with you on most everything you wrote - EXCEPT - the ending. I think Bruce is alive. Had they not specifically stopped over to have the autopilot confirmed - a scene that could easily have been jettisoned - then yes, the ending would have been every bit an engimatic indication of Alfred seeing what he wanted to see instead of reality. I also think had Mr. Nolan wanted to really make you think it could go either way - he would have shot that scene differently - with a Bruce-like figure and a Selina-like figure with their backs to camera, standing before being seated facing away from Alfred side by side. Then, after they sit, the Bruce looking figure starts to turn his head back towards Alfred, and just before you can see enough of his face to know for sure - there's the cut to black.

"...the way the world works. People die, people get hurt and there is no hope to look to."

I think I know now why Captain America is really NOT your cup of tea! ;)

Unknown said...

@Craig You do make a compelling argument, but I still refuse to believe the autopilot thing. I choose to believe that Bruce is dead because that's the way it should rightfully end. Bruce does not get a second chance, he was doomed to die the night his parent were killed. I think Nolan used that autopilot as a fake out and Alfred is given to powerful hallucinations so he would imagine Bruce there. And honestly, that did not look like Anne at the end to me. Why would he go with her? There is no logical leap, one kiss does not a relationship make for me. He happily banged Miranda, went to great lengths to save her, so he was in no way interested in Selina that way.

And yes, I am a hardcore cynic at times, so you're right, CA is definitely not my cup of tea. ;)

Blockbuster Diva said...

Great review, my sentiments exactly. In a word it was epic, yeah. Couldn't have asked for a better ending to this trilogy. I'm really looking forward to Nolan's next projects. Hasn't let me down yet that's for sure.

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