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Well, I can't say I wasn't looking forward to this. With all the mixed feelings I have about Nolan's trilogy, I can safely say that I was never displeased, honestly, with his Batman mythology; whether I liked them or not they are still good movies. I was quite excited to see where he'd conclude it all after the passing of Heath Ledger and, by proxy, his interesting (though greatly flawed, in my opinion) take on the Joker. Knowing that such a loss would hang over the head of this movie I was still more than enticed. How does the final product stack-up against my expectations? Eh... well, that's kind of the interesting part. I love Nolan's films, but even then I can acknowledge when directors I like make some massive missteps. Christopher Nolan has made some massive missteps here. What does that mean for the whole production? Read on.
Review by Ginose
Added: July 26, 2012
After the events of "The Dark Knight" wrapped up (quite nicely, might I add) we see that Gotham has suddenly entered a great era of civility and, most surprisingly, peace. The instated "Dent Act", pushed through after the tragic death of Harvey Dent, has put more than a fair-share of Gotham's criminals behind bars and there is very little need for the missing Batman, who is, himself, considered an enemy of the law since his apparent murder of D.A. "Harvey Two-Face" during a struggle that changed the course of all of these characters lives. Bruce Wayne (the Batman) himself suffered a harsh injury during the fight and has been left to his own devices; living in solitude for the last eight years, he is suddenly forced back into his investigative body-suit when a cat-burglar who infiltrated a gala he was throwing, steals his mother's pearls and, more strikingly disturbing, his finger-prints. It isn't long before Batman does his research, with the aid and support of an ambitious and talented young police-officer, that he's lead to discover an organization is steadily putting together an army under the streets of Gotham, which may or may not be connected to his former mentor's terrorist cell the "League of Shadows". This faction, led by a mysterious figure named Bane, has rather unsettling plans for both Gotham and Wayne all of which tie back to the burglar's original mission. This all comes together to an undeniably conclusive end to the "Dark Knight" trilogy.
So here we are at the end of Christopher Nolan's rebooted "Batman" trilogy. Cannot say that this wasn't exciting to go into, regardless of how I feel about this reimagining he's done with the "Batman" mythology. It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of this recent fascination filmmakers have had with "grim and gritty" design in these films, but, if any character can work with the treatment, it's obviously Batman. Seriously, he's had some seriously drastic revisions in his 80 plus years as a character, but there are bigger overlying problems that I've had with Nolan's trilogy, not the least of which is his "realism" attachment. At what point are we expected to just turn over and ignore this? For all the expressly interesting themes and design-choices he's pumped into these, why did he feel it so necessary to ignore the fact that these are, at their core, children's comic books, and the desire of such literature has always been, primarily, to be fantastic and over-the-top? I'm not saying that it wakes Adam West-era camp to be relatable, but a whole abandonment of the fantastical-fiction setting simply does more harm and good, where I stand, as a viewer.
That said, the lack of fantasia aside, this movie new enemy that I've yet to see in ANY Christopher Nolan film yet; Bad story-structure. It is true, dear reader, this is the greatest and most striking flaw of this, otherwise, very good film. It is such a problem that it greatly steps upon the truly stellar aspects: Nolan's fantastic cinematography, the wonderful score, the great (overall) plot and some great performances from the leads. It is so much a greater crime, in that regard, as the obvious mistakes are inexcusable; a specific problem comes from the film's pacing, particularly the first hour of the film. This first hour is composed of a lot of important plot elements and character set-ups that DO pay off in the long-run, this issue is that ALL of this is attempted to be crammed into an hour of the film. This makes for some terribly assembled dialogue, and some very heavy-handed exposition work that just drained all the life right out of each scene. A shame too, because Tom Hardy's version of Bane is something to behold, and his monologues are some of the best in the film, it just tends to flood out a lot of the story to an almost boring degree. This, coupled with the second act, in which Bane's claim to infamy makes an appearance, destroys the movies basic structure. Specifically in that "The Dark Knight Rises" is about just that: Batman rising from the scrutiny and self-loathing he stewed in after then end of the last film to be the hero that Gotham needs once again. Then Bane happens. And the next half-hour is him rising again. No. this is not how you structure your film, Nolan. You know better than this. It basically serves to make the first half of the film pointless beyond its long, drawn-out exposition. That is annoying. That has no place in a Batman movie.
Beyond that the performances are pretty great. Bale is his usual Batman, though dials back his "throat-cancer Batman" voice considerably for this one to mixed results. He is... a simple actor. He plays the same character in most of his work and, you know what, that's fine. He doesn't have any less dimension here than he does in his last few tries and that's good enough for me, I guess... not hoisting a lot of expectations there... A true stand-out, in surprising fashion, is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (who most may know as Catwoman), who is all the types of charismatic. She chews up the scenery in her action scenes and is just fun as hell to watch in her back-and-forths with Batman and the various other characters throughout the film. She's fun. Sooooo much fun. Tom Hardy, as mentioned, has a remarkably interesting take on Bane to work with and I, personally, loved it. I'm a huge fan of Bane from the "Batman" comic series (being a 90s kid, I assume) and I feel that this interpretation, though drastically changed, in many ways, still carried so much of the character over. Not to mention the greatly revisioned identity and origins they worked with, with him. His action scenes? Awesome. His monologues? Perfect. His design? Interesting, and his accent, though cleverly inserted, is (as many have stated) difficult to understand, at times, but it's hard to miss it when the plot is so well directed. There are some great, though underused bits, from Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine as well, but they seem so off to the side once their arcs are pushed through that I was almost angry with the underused talent of these veterans. Also, though I won't spoil them, there are some rather great call-backs to the previous two films that fans may get a kick out of. Look for them.
Understand, as much as I loved a lot of these aspects, the film is still a structural mess. I've always said that, where the Nolan trilogy fails as great BATMAN movies, they succeed as great ACTION movies. This one, however, does not quite manage that. The action is there, and it's fantastic, especially the last act of the movie, but there's so little cohesion to it that the uninitiated action-film lover will feel utterly lost a lot of the time. I feel that a lot of its negative aspects are balanced out by the good, but that still doesn't make it so. In the end, I enjoyed it. It's not as good as "The Dark Knight", it's nowhere near as good as "Batman Begins", but it's still good and still well worth your time. If I were going for pure personal enjoyment score I'd give it an 8.5/10 or so, but this is a review and, on its own merits, I can't warrant quite that good a score.
Note: I refuse to mention the socio-political allegory this film constantly dabbles into. While it IS there, it is so lightly touched upon and, inevitably, quite sloppily done. You'll get what you get out of it, but I found it uninspiring to say the least. Try again later, Nolan. Maybe when you actually give a shit.
- added 07/27/2012, 08:56 AM
(MINOR SPOILERS) This is not a terrible film by
any means, but when compared to "Batman
Begins" and "The Dark Knight" it
just falls short. The story is somewhat a mess and
everything seem to be pushed to 11. Anne Hathaway
is not sexy and besides having the name Selina
Kyle and being a burglar there is nothing Catwoman
about her, the outfit is lame and seriously where
is the whip and claws? I know Nolan's Batman films
are meant to be realistic but in a world with a
Batman is there really impossible to have a actual
Catwoman? The part that Batman has been in exile
for 8 years, sorry, I don't buy it and I don't
like it, Batman would never quit and since he has
how did Bruce Wayne get his injured leg? Falling
down the stairs? The romance between Bruce/Selina
out of nowhere and not believable. Joseph
Gordon-Levitt as an actor and character in this,
horrible and pointless, he could have been written
out or just not written in the begin with. That's
all I can come up with right now (without giving
out some major spoilers). Like I said not a bad
film, but while I think Batman Begins is a 9/10
and The Dark Knight is a 10/10, this is 7/10.
- added 07/27/2012, 06:31 PM
Injured himself in the fall
with Dent at the end of the first film. The
"Dent Act" stopped most, if not all,
organized crime in Gotham; Batman wasn't
necessarily needed, but Wayne couldn't give him
up. I don't think Catwoman as much other than a
burglar would have worked here. Batman is hardly
Batman in these, can you imagine Catwoman being
her sexually-dominant and conniving self without
enough time to root her as an anti-hero/villain?
It just wouldn't have made much sense. Aside from
that and disagreeing about Gordon-Levitt's
performance/character being "horrible"
instead of just "essentially useless" I
completely agree with everything you said.
- added 07/27/2012, 06:40 PM
(SPOILERS, I guess) So he had that injured leg
for 8 years, sorry not buying it. And in the
Batman universe, Batman should always be needed.
- added 08/05/2012, 11:41 AM
(spoiling away) i find the whole part in the pit
pointles. I read the 'knightfall' story arc from
the comic books and was completely bummed out by
the movie. the whole explosion and prison break
thing should have happened earlyer on in the movie
with batman running around to fix things. Then
Bane breaks him, and thats when that blake guy
steps in with the help from batman. He could have
beaten Bane with a sort of power armor like in the
batman of the future cartoons. Or maybe Bruce
Wayne himself after serious surgery and a power
suit like the one he uses to defeat superman in
frank miller's the dark knight returns... anyway,
i would have cut the entire talia all ghul story
line for that movie.
- added 12/05/2012, 11:04 AM
What a lame DVD cover.
- added 12/05/2012, 02:11 PM
yeah, DVD covers sure do make the movie.
- added 12/05/2012, 03:30 PM
I make one joke that goes completely over your
head and now I have a future of snide remarks to
look forward to? Oh boy, this is gonna be great!
- added 12/14/2012, 06:57 PM
Still the DVD cover is pretty awful.
- added 03/18/2016, 04:06 PM
Watching it again for the first time since I saw
it in cinemas. It's really a mess of a film. 4/10