The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises 2012

I have to start off by mentioning that this is turning out to be one of the harder reviews I’ve had to write. I actually ended up seeing it by myself in the local theater at a late Saturday night showing, largely because I got the chance to participate in my first podcast for the Lamb which I believe will be posted this weekend. I jumped at the chance when the Dark Knight Rises episode went up for grabs, and even though it got filled before I got to put my name in the hat, a couple people dropped out so I snuck my way into the pod. And then I realized I would have to do something I have almost never done before: see the movie opening weekend, and see it by myself. I am a very shy person, and I dislike crowds of any kind. I was worried that the theater would be crowded, especially when I got to the theater at 9:25 and saw that the 9:30 show was flashing “sold out”. But luckily for me, the theater was only about two thirds full for the ten o’clock showing. I ended up having a good theater experience, sitting with empty chairs on either side of me, and near complete silence during the entire movie, the only crowd reaction was for the line “So that’s how it feels”. And since watching the movie, I’ve gone through and read many different reviews and takes on the movie, which has made it a little bit harder to sort out my own opinions from those of others. But I will say that Dark Knight Rises is an epic end to the best superhero trilogies of all time, even if it doesn’t have much competition in that category. I’ll even say that it’s one of the best movie trilogies of all time.

But enough about my own experiences, I should talk about the actual movie. And when I say talk about the movie, I mean I’m going to talk about the movie, not talk around the movie. The term spoilers is thrown about loosely, and I don’t believe anything would spoil this film. There is one twist that I knew about ahead of time, and yet was still caught off guard when it happened, and there are several reveals at the end, and a couple fun cameos that were nice, but not a big part of the movie. You know what, I’ll just go ahead and get the spoiler talk out of the way up front. When I came into this movie, I knew that Marion Cotilliard was Talia Al’Ghul, I knew Bane would break Batman’s back, and I knew that Batman would survive in the end. Of course, I thought Batman would survive for a different reason. The first two movies take place over the course of about a year and a half, so I thought that with all the history behind Batman that it would be too against type to pull him out of the picture after so short a time fighting crime. During the movie, I also thought that Detective Blake would play a larger part in the mythos even though it didn’t go exactly where I thought it would.

No Mr. Wayne, I expect you to die. I mean, then I will give you permission to die.

I think the biggest word thrown around when talking about this movie is “epic”, this film is totally epic in its scope. Bane succeeds in taking over an entire city essentially the size of Manhattan for a span of five months, neutralizing the entire police force, and breaking the Batman. The level of planning and forethought in this movie reminds me a lot of what happens in the Dark Knight. Bane anticipates Batman’s moves every step of the way until the very end. Unfortunately when you start looking into the logic of it, things start to break down a bit, like predicting that the entire Gotham police force would be sent into the sewers. But it’s a tribute to the pacing and scope of the movie, that it doesn’t really register until after the credits roll and you sit there thinking about what you just watched.

I’m one of the ones who actually thought Bane was a good choice for the villain in this movie, and I wasn’t entirely let down. I have to comment on the voice. It was jarring, in a bad way, how overly synthetic it seemed. The accent was hard to understand, though I could deal with it. My biggest problem was that it just didn’t feel like it was coming from Bane, it felt like it was coming from the theater speakers. It could have been a balance issue within the theater I saw it at, but it was fairly distracting for me. But during scenes like either of the epic fights between him and Batman, it was quickly forgotten. I also absolutely loved Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, I thought she was the best part of this movie. She pulled off the biggest comedy moments, and she also got some of the biggest touching moments next to Alfred. Just the look on her face through the bars made the fight scene that much more epic.

This makes that pivotal moment in the movie that much more… just more.

Of course, there is no Batman without Batman and I haven’t even begun to talk about him yet. This movie starts off a full eight years after the Dark Knight. Eight years in Gotham without a Batman, essentially without a Bruce Wayne, and more or less without crime. I’m not sure I liked that portion of the story, it seemed too convenient, and as much as Alfred cares about Bruce, I find it hard to believe he would have just let him rot away in his mansion for that long without confronting him. Even though it’s one of the most touching scenes in the movie when Alfred says goodbye, I find it hard to believe that it took this long to set it off. The fact that he’s been gone so long also means he has to get back into the game, only to be taken back out of the game shortly thereafter. I think I would have much preferred Batman to have been still out there under the cover of darkness, staying under the radar but with many reported sightings. I think it should have only been a few years later, with the toll taken on his body after years of crimefighting, rather than a year and a half of crimefighting followed by eight years of seclusion. I would have also liked to have seen more of Batman, he only has about three or four action scenes in this entire movie.

One of the other big surprises in this movie was Joseph Gordon Levitt as Officer John Blake. In the movie, he’s set up to be Commissioner Gordon’s protege. He has a great insight and drive to earn Gordon’s respect early on in the movie. He’s essentially the beacon of hope throughout this entire movie, and he plays it well even when he becomes disillusioned to his own heroes. The only thing I didn’t like about his character was that he wasn’t given more to do. He spends the entire movie investigating. I loved what he did with what he was given, I just wish he would have been given more. And at the end of the movie, he’s essentially given everything. I could probably go on and on, this movie is just so dense that it’s hard to cover everything in it, and that’s probably one of its biggest flaws. Everything connects to something else later or earlier in the movie. Some of the connections are weaker than they could be, but they are woven together so well that I was transfixed for the entire runtime. It may not be the best movie out of the trilogy, but I sure as hell enjoyed watching it, and as much as I can find all sorts of little problems with it, they are all small when compared to the big picture. And this movie is definitely a big picture. I also have to mention, that while I was watching trailers to pick out some screenshots for this review, all that excitement about this movie came rushing right back to me. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on July 24, 2012, in 10's movies, DC and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I tried to make sense of the 8 years where Alfred did nothing. My thoughts were that it took that long for Alfred to truly feel the guilt of the lie he told. And it wasn’t until after the events of the beginning of the film, where Bruce was on the verge of becoming Batman again, did the damage of that lie really come out. Maybe I’m rationalising too much and giving the film too much credit.

    I too wish JGL’s Blake had more to do. More active things to do, like you said, instead of just investigating.

    Nolan and his team should all be incredibly proud of themselves. There are so few film trilogies out there where each film is just as strong, if not stronger, than the previous film. This trilogy is up there with the best.

    • Especially when compared to other recent trilogies that missed the mark somewhere along the line like the Matrix or Spider-Man, this is head and shoulders above them. And while I do have to point out the flaws, they are very easily overlooked due to the quality of everything else surrounding it.

  2. I also thought 8 years was a long time to assign to the gap. Four years, perhaps, I could see. But even with the various flaws in this film, I agree, it’s a great end to the trilogy.

  3. Good review man. I enjoyed the hell out of this flick and I can easily call it one of my favorite flicks of the year, by far. Sad to see Nolan go but at least he can finally move on and do some other great masterpieces like The Prestige and Inception.

    • I’ve yet to watch those two Nolan movies, though depending on how I feel after watching it, I’ve considered doing an “almost super” review for Inception. I just know so little about it aside from the dream within a dream within a dream concept.

  4. I just saw this (in a lovely near empty theater at the matinee showing this morning), and I still haven’t sorted out all of my thoughts on it yet. But I do have to say that Bane didn’t feel right with me. His voice freaked me out at first, though I managed to get used to it as time went on. I mainly felt that he wasn’t the character for the role. Sure Joker, Ra’s, and Two-Face didn’t perfectly match up to the comic book versions, but with Bane the only thing even similar to his character was the face mask. I was fine with this character; it was just calling that character Bane that I have problems with.

    The main thoughts that went trough my head while watching this were about how much was brought in from various Batman stories. The long absence as Batman because of the death of a loved one was taken from Frank Miller’s classic, Dark Knight Returns. It also combines in bits from the No Man’s Land story arc where Gotham City is cut off from the rest of the world for a year or so (which also featured Batman taking some time off from the job). Add in Ra’s quest for an heir and Bane breaking Batman’s back (yet another story where Batman is out of action for a time). It’s such a jumble of different comic book story arcs that I’m still not sure how to process it all.

    I think my awareness of the comics has been both a blessing and a curse here. It makes me want some things to be more accurate to the comics, but it also makes me think that some things that people had problems with, like Bruce’s long absence, are appropriate.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be commenting on a film I still haven’t figured out what I think of, but I’ll probably need to see it again before I can really sort out everything that happened in it. Like you say, there’s too much depth and complexity here to easily sum up.

    • I’m not nearly as familiar with the comics, the only thing I knew going into it was that they’d likely have the back-breaking scene in it. Interesting to hear your thoughts as a big comics fan.

  5. Great review, Bubba. I am man enough to admit that I walked out of the midnight showing that I saw wiping away a few tears and shaking. To me, it was everything I could have wanted in a Batman movie. I almost leapt up and started cheering during Batman and Bane’s final confrontation. It was surreal to hear a crowd of Batman fans around me cheering as Batman unleashed blow after blow on Bane’s mask, clapping and holler when Bane was stumbling around only to retaliate with punching through a concrete pillar. I was also covering my mouth when Bane is beating Batman to a bloody pulp. It brought back that kid in me that remembered getting that comic in the mail and reading it in horror.

    I agree that there were a ton of flaws in the film. There was one that really bothered me but I now am just waving it off. He’s the friggin’ Batman and I should know better than to question him. I did think that the performances really made up for the bumps in the story, especially Hathaway’s Catwoman. She WAS Catwoman. And Bane, man! Bane was exactly what I wanted to see. If I ever meet Tom Hardy, I want to just shake his hand and say thank you for getting it right.

    Overall, I loved it. I think The Dark Knight is a better made movie but The Dark Knight Rises was the movie I was waiting for ever since I opened a Batman comic book. It makes me proud to wear my Batman T-shirts again. Glad to hear you liked it, my friend!


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