BE WARNED! While our video review was spoiler free, I chose to write this one filled with them. If you haven’t seen the film, but want to be spoiled, by all means, trek on. If you HAVE seen the film, and just want to read a raving Batman fanboy’s opinions, then this review is for you. Once again though, if you do not want to be spoiled, do not read this review. Watch our video review instead, HERE.
Well, here it is. The End. Christopher Nolan’s insanely epic Batman saga is now complete. As sad as that is for me to admit, it also makes me really happy and honored that I was able to spend the last 8 years witnessing the greatest incarnation of Batman ever made. The Dark Knight Rises truly went out with a bang. A BIG bang, no less. Literally.
Nolan raised the bar so much when he made 2008’s The Dark Knight, and I was honestly worried that he wouldn’t be able to go any higher. I was so wrong, though. This time, instead of just making a film about Batman, Chris Nolan essentially made a film about Gotham City, bringing the entire city to life (and death). The scale of this film is MASSIVE for that very reason. There are quotes out there of Nolan saying that this was one of the biggest films to be made since the pre-code era Hollywood, and I’d really have to agree. I can’t remember seeing a film so huge in recent memory. There were stuntmen literally dangling on the side of a plane thousands of feet in the air during the prologue, thousands of extras used in the Football Scene, and thousands more used for the battle between the police force and Bane’s underground army. It was unreal.
And on that note, not only was the scope bigger, but the action was much larger too. It felt like there were easily twice as many action sequences in The Dark Knight Rises than there were in The Dark Knight. They just kept coming. Though, no other action sequence in the film tops the first showdown between Bane and Batman, for me. This scene was so powerful, both visually and emotionally. Seeing Batman be beaten and, yes, for all you Knightfall fans, literally broken, was a tough thing to watch. The part when Bane is physically caving in Batman’s graphite cowl gave me shivers. Not to mention the entire time, there is no music. You’re forced to fully take in the sound of Batman’s beating and nothing else. It’s intense stuff.
While I’m on the subject, I should mention how truly dark The Dark Knight Rises is. It’s certainly less kid friendly than the last two. There’s just this large black cloud over everything. The film starts out by revealing that Bruce Wayne has spent the better part of the last few years living in solitude, never leaving the now rebuilt Wayne Manor, as he’s been emotionally broken by the events of the previous film. Then there is Jim Gordon who’s wife has left him and taken the kids, oh and a little guy known as Bane who not only breaks Batman’s back, but completely cripples Gotham City by trapping nearly all of it’s police force underground and letting chaos run the streets for half a year, all while arming a nuclear explosive to destroy the entire city. Which ultimately leads to the finale.
The finale of the film will, I think, be discussed the same way that the ending of Inception was discussed and debated. Batman flies off into the distance with the bomb nobly killing himself while saving Gotham, and inheriting his property on the southeast wing to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character (which, by the way, he nailed. JGL did a fantastic job in his role as a normal beat cop named John Blake. You get so invested in his character that when it’s revealed that Wayne left the Batman legacy for Blake, it’s hard not get excited). But it’s the last shot that will get people, I think. Alfred sitting in Florence and looking up to see Bruce and Selina. Did Batman really escape, or is Alfred just imagining this? It’s vague enough in the sense that the viewer can decide which possibility they would like to believe.
So, while I really feel like I’m starting to be in the minority here with this opinion, but I thought The Dark Knight Rises definitely succeeded in topping The Dark Knight. To me, it was the perfect culmination of the trilogy, and was the best of the three films. The film goes full circle and brings everything from Batman Begins back into focus, and connects the rest of the dots, physically and emotionally. It never attempts to recreate anything from The Dark Knight. It has a different pacing, a different tone, and just feels like it’s own film. I feel like Rises has already reset the bar for what summer action films should be, as well as comic book films. And, you know, maybe I’m being too optimistic here, but I would actually be surprised if it didn’t at least get a Best Picture nomination next year. But of course, I’m just a huge Batman fanboy after all, so take that sentence with a grain of salt.
I give The Dark Knight Rises 10 out of 5. No icons, just this:
By Richard Pepper