Everyone has their own end of Batman story
– Paul Dini, writer, co-creator of Batman: The Animated Series
Mine involves Batman with a jet pack. I have no clue what else happens but he WILL have a jet pack and it would probably have Mike Myers as Mr. Freeze. Essentially something that would make Joel Schumacher go “Jeez kid, that’s a bit over the top”. Luckily the caped crusader and his movies are directed by someone much more capable than I, Christopher Nolan. Over the past seven years the director has created his own dark and realistic version of Gotham City to much critical and commercial acclaim. Nolan has made not only some of the best comic book movies but some of the best movies of the past decade.
Alas all good things must come to an end. As the lights raise and the audience makes its exodus the end of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy is felt. Obviously not in some cosmic “What is wrong with the world” way but more “We’ll never get more from Nolan, bummer.” Of course this leaves us with one big question, how was the movie? Did it live up to the past two films? Did it drop the ball like every other superhero “trilogy”? Lets dive in with this special edition of Batman in Film.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
I think this is my favorite version of Batman. Now he isn’t as determined or driven as the Batman as I am used to but it’s not the comic Batman, it’s Nolan Batman. A more realistic version that needs to retire due to the insane amount of damage he’s taken. It was something I never really thought of but to hear he has no cartilage in his joints and a messed up back made absolute sense; even a few years of doing what Batman does would destroy your body. The Batman voice is back but I found it more tolerable in this movie. Maybe I had just gotten used to it but I found it more intelligible this time around. I guess the biggest flaw is that once again the focus isn’t on Batman; this time focusing more on Bane and John Blake. But even then it is acceptable considering that this is the Chris Nolan version of the Batman mythos.
Unfortunately Batman does kill in this movie. But considering this is the first in the Nolan-verse of movies I can accept it. Still crap but acceptable crap.
Holy crap, they were able to do Bane right. Now most media, and even the comics, depict him as just a thug on steroids. Batman & Robin had him as a fat dude that did nothing. In The Dark Knight Rises Bane is a mix of mercenary and revolutionary. A man whose physical strength is only matched by his intelligence. As for the voice, like Batman’s I was fine with this. It had an air of sophistication that was a great dichotomy compared to Bane’s body. Like a Bond villain in a pro wrestlers body. Am I going to say it matches Heath Ledger’s Joker? No. Honestly that is just too much to expect. But Tom Hardy’s performance brings to life one of, if not the, most menacing villain in any Batman movie.
Anne Hathaway is just as good as Catwoman. Smart, charming and badass; everything I could have asked for in a movie version of Catwoman. Much better than being brought by cats or whatever Batman Returns had. Heck they even give an explanation for why she is in high heels. Doesn’t make them any less practical but getting an answer is still nice.
Alfred and Lucious Fox (to a lesser degree) are generally non-factors in The Dark Knight Rises. While they do appear and have big moments they generally take a back seat to Commissioner Gordon and Detective John Blake, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt respectively. Both give their usual awesome performances, Oldman in particular. While Blake’s arc is predictable I found it interesting to watch nevertheless. Also I was happy to see Oldman take a more proactive role in this movie. More than just Batman’s pseudo-sidekick he takes charge in this movie and Gordon taking the reins made for an entertaining watch.
Miranda Tate was okay, I guess. Marion Cotillard does fine in her role but outside of a few major plot points I wasn’t really invested in her character one way or the other until the end.
It has been interesting to watch Chris Nolan grow as a director when it came to action. Known more for his psychological thrillers he has evolved quite a bit in this aspect of film making. In Batman Begins he was quite a novice at it; using the shaky cam effect and going too close in the shot. With The Dark Knight he took big leaps in making the fight scenes, getting a more grand feeling to the movie. I think he’s hit his peak with The Dark Knight Rises. Scenes like Bane and Batman fighting have a much more fluid look. Given this can be due to better choreography but the look they went with helped as well.
This movie falls into The Dark Knight water when it comes to plot for me. I love the overarching plot of Batman being broken and having to rebuild himself. I love Bane’s plan to take over and destroy Gotham City. Even B-plots like Detective Blake’s arc are captivating. But then there are the little things that feel absolutely useless. The best example is Matthew Modine as the deputy commissioner. Now don’t get me wrong Modine is good in his role it’s just that it’s unneeded. We’re watching The Dark Knight Rises not Matthew Modine Rises. Another thing is John Blake’s monologue about how he discovered Batman’s identity. It’s just stupid. Again the monologue is delivered well but that doesn’t make it any less idiotic.
Now I know these are nitpicky things but it takes you out of an otherwise good movie.
I will fully admit I was wrong in my last edition of Batman in Film. The Dark Knight, that wasn’t epic. At least when compared to The Dark Knight Returns. Chris Nolan takes everything he built and turns it up to 11. The look, the feel, and the general scope of everything the movie is truly epic. Also the pacing was much better to me this time around. While plot lines may be unnecessary they didn’t slow the movie down. Another positive is Hans Zimmer handling the score of the film. For the first two movies it didn’t really affect me, it was fine but nothing great. The score really accentuates everything happening.
In the end there are two ways to look at The Dark Knight Rises. First as a movie. No doubt some minor discrepancies but it is a very good movie anyways. Great acting, a compelling story and excellent action make this a good film.
The other way is as the ending to a trilogy; a real trilogy unlike the Spider-man or X-men movies which are random stories. In this instance I think it’s as close to perfect as you can get. The Dark Knight Rises is not only a wholly satisfying ending to the series but it even improves upon the previous films by making it part of a larger, over arcing story. I know that I have used the term already but The Dark Knight Rises truly is epic and an absolute must see for lovers of the series.
It’s been interesting to see the reaction people have had to the ending. Some loving, some hating, all reasonable stances in my opinion. After seeing the movie twice and having time to digest everything I think I fall into the camp of liking it. The thing is that it makes sense for THIS Batman to retire and leave the role to someone else. This due to the fact that Nolan’s movies are set in a more realistic setting than the comics or even past movies. Realistically someone doing Batman’s job would last 5-10 years, max. As addressed in the movie his body would be worn down at an accelerated rate. Not only that but the Batman in the Nolan-verse has always been more about Batman as a symbol as opposed to Bruce Wayne as Batman. This particular concept has been building up throughout the other movies so this is the logical pay off.
This brings us to John Blake taking over the mantle. Again I’m fine with this revelation. Given it felt rushed but he’s the perfect choice to take over the mantle. But as far as I can tell the Nolan story seems to be closed. This is okay because honestly I’m not sure I would want to see a “Robin” movie. I do think a Batman using his detective skills as opposed to ninja asskickery could make for a very good movie. But without Nolan being behind the creative team it would take a lot to make it work and honestly I don’t have enough faith in Warner Brothers handling it.
Now if this were the comic or another movie series I would be much more aggravated by the ending. But since this is a part of the Nolan film series this fits everything that was built up through the years and makes absolute sense.