Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises



Photo: The Dark Knight Rises poster, from its Wikipedia page.

One of the few movies I've ever considered going to the midnight screening for.  I didn't end up doing that, but I did see it at noon of the next day.  I've been waiting for this since the 500th time I saw The Dark Knight--and I listened to the CD soundtrack of The Dark Knight every day for almost two years.  I'm not kidding.  Still possibly the best musical score for a movie soundtrack ever made, and a true travesty that it wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award.  Anyway, the pacing, the music, the style, the flow, the panache of that film all made it great, so that you could easily look past the fact that when Batman saved Rachel Dawes from the Joker, the Joker was still with Dent and all his company--in Bruce Wayne's penthouse!

So it was with great anticipation that I awaited The Dark Knight Rises.  I went into the screening knowing that it couldn't possibly be as perfect as its predecessor--that kind of film comes along once in a director's career, and it did not happen again here.  TDKR started off slowly in of itself, but especially compared to the explosive beginning of TDK.  And where TDK didn't seem like a long film, because of the constant attack on the senses of the film, but it was long-ish, at two and a half hours.  TDKR was two hours and forty-five minutes, just fifteen minutes longer, but it seemed much longer than TDK.  And the MUCH slower pace doesn't help that overlong feeling.  It honestly drags in a couple of spots, mostly in the beginning.  (The second half's pace is much faster.)

Having said that, I don't want to sound like I didn't like TDKR.  I did, and a lot, especially the ending, which I believe made the whole film.  Whereas TDK was mostly about the Joker and the people of Gotham (the filmmakers said that Batman was the focus, but they were full of it; the Joker, and not just Ledger's performance, was the focus, as was the populace of Gotham itself), TDKR was fully about Batman.  Bane is given slight shrift; Catwoman is given even slighter notice, to the extent that you never really know anything about her character at all.  As it's Anne Hathaway looking eye-poppingly snazzy in the Catwoman outfit, and even more natural (and frankly awesome) on the Batcycle than Batman was, that's okay.  The slight background we're given makes the Catwoman outfit more understandable, if you know what I'm saying.

Nope, here it's all about Bruce Wayne (more him than Batman) and Alfred, too.  Speaking of Alfred, look for Michael Caine to get some consideration for Best Supporting Actor here.  His scenes are by far the most effective in the film, and his part of the ending makes everything just right.  In truth, the ending makes a good film into an almost-great film.  I won't give too much away, but the ending provides an obvious open-door for a sequel (Nolan couldn't close the door all the way, even if he is leaving the room for good) as the Bat signal gets fixed (i.e., Call me if you need me).  But the viewer also understands that any message sent to Batman may be long unanswered, if the call is returned at all.  The signal might go up, but Batman, not being Superman, might not see it from where he is at the end.  But, if so, that's okay; there's someone still in Gotham who'll pick up the phone.

More concerned about character and ending than about action, TDKR doesn't try to super-impress you with one awesome action scene after another as TDK did--though your eyes will pop when the Batcycle has to turn around; and there really aren't any surprises here, either, even with the "surprise" at the near-end that even a half-astute viewer would've seen coming from several miles away.  It's as if Christopher Nolan purposely tried to do something different; having impressed everyone with the mind-boggling pace and action in the second one, how could he better himself here?  He couldn't, and knew it, and probably wouldn't have wanted to, anyway.  If the first film was about how it all began, the last is about how it all should end.

It's very fitting, and very good.  What else were you hoping for?  As the last film of the trilogy, you wonder where someone else besides Nolan could go with it.  Nowhere, is my guess, despite the open door.  Maybe another re-boot, but I hope not.  If Nolan and Bale don't make a fourth one together (and both said they won't), I don't want another one made for a long while.

After all, what else is there to say?  This one concludes possibly the best film trilogy ever.  Only The Lord of the Rings comes close.

9 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see it! The last one was so intense and evocative I'm excited to see where they go with this. Great review!

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    1. Thanks, Alexia. Go see it--it's worth it.

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  2. I've given this movie much thought over the last few days and after reading reviews and having discussions with friends/coworkers, I've come to the conclusion this was by far the weakest installment of the trilogy. I knew it wouldn't live up to the hype of The Dark Knight, but I felt Nolan just sort of gave up and dropped the ball with the script. It was a little hard to follow at times (especially towards the beginning), it dragged at times, it was convoluted, and things happened all too conveniently. Worst of all Bane was a weak villain. Outside of his physical strength he wasn't nearly as threatening as in the insane Joker. My personal favorite of the trilogy remains Batman Begins because I loved the origin story and I felt a real sense of passion coming from Bruce Wayne. With TDKR, he was sort of just phoning it in. The ending was a bit too wrapped up for my taste as well. I'd have to agree the best part of the film was Catwoman and her ultra sexy outfit. Anne Hathaway was really great and I would have liked to have gotten to know more about her character. She was way more interesting than Blake and even Bane.

    Lord Of the Rings is far more superior trilogy because each film stands on it's own. They are mini masterpieces in every which way: story, music, acting, and visually. I look forward to The Hobbit making it the best quadrilogy of all time.

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    1. I'd agree with you about the LOTR trilogy, but for all of the fight scenes. All of them well done--and mostly CGI, of course--but they all sort of blended together for me, so that after awhile they became just another massive battle scene of the Orcs getting their butts kicked. And the scenes with the tree beings sort of dragged for me.

      I don't agree that each of those films stand on their own like Nolan's Batman films do because each of the latter had their own arc, but the LOTR films were all one long path to the same goal: Mount Doom, and the destruction of the Ring. After all, the trilogy was originally created not by Tolkein, but by his publisher; Tolkein submitted the LOTR as one very long novel. Nolan's Batman movies were three separate novels, if you will; the LOTR was just one, and the films feel that way. (They were all filmed consecutively over a couple of years as well. There was no break between filming. All of the main players of Nolan's Batman trilogy did other projects in between those films. And so the three films feel like separate entities.)

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  3. Honestly, I haven't seen this movie and I was mildly impressed with it's predecessor, despite Heath Ledger's fantastic final performance. Still, I've asked my husband not to spoil anything for me until the DVD comes out but seeing that he was as talkative about Ann Hathaway as you were, I'm assuming there's not much of the plot to spoil.

    All in all, my boys (7 and 5 yrs old) LOVED it. I think the candy + soda may have had something to do with it.

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    1. Despite Chris Nolan's brilliance, and the solid performances of Bale and Caine, what will stand out the most in this movie, for males and females alike, will be Anne Hathaway's sleek and slender body in the Catsuit. It's not fair, and it'll overshadow what was a pretty good performance on her part in a thankless--and, frankly, almost useless--role, but there you have it. It is what it is--and it is awesome!

      And, like Prometheus and a few other movies I've seen this year, you've really got to see this on the big movie screen, if you can. Re-watch it when the DVD comes out, as I will, but you've gotta see it on the big screen to really appreciate it. I wish I'd seen Dark Knight on the big screen. Should it ever get replayed around here--maybe all three movies at once?--I'd see it again on the big screen, even though I've seen it dozens of times already.

      But let's get back to Hathaway in that suit...

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    2. The trees were my least favorite part of The Two Towers. I agree they do kind drag and slow down the film. My favorite remains the original (extended not theatrical cut) of Fellowship of the Ring. The trilogy may be one long continuous story, but I can enjoy each film on it's own.

      We'll have to agree to disagree on this!

      I still say TDKR was a weak installment. And frankly Catwoman shouldn't be with Bruce Wayne anyway. She's too ultra cool, strong, and independent to be in a relationship with Bruce Wayne. (who is still pining away for Rachel!). But whatever.

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  4. Christopher Nolan agrees. Out of all the characters, he feels Catwoman is the one who deserves her own sequel. He's not the least bit interested in directing it, but he was quite impressed with her (and I quote) "The thing she does in those heels is not to be taken lightly. She's an incredible character and we're very excited to see her and hopefully we'll leave people wanting more."

    So perhaps there's a two hour picture in the works of just Hathaway kicking ass in heels and tight leather? Certainly worth the price of admission.

    By the way, there was A Dark Knight Marathon playing at AMC Theaters last month. All three films back-to-back one night only July 20th. I was lucky enough to see all three on the big screen the first time around.

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    1. Certainly a movie I'd see! Though if she's kicking butt, busy being a superhero, does that mean she's not with Bruce Wayne anymore? That would kinda ruin the ending of TDKR for me.

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