I walked out of this film with an acute sense of frustration. This beast of a sequel is nearly 3 hours long, follows 2 incredible, ground breaking, Batman movies, and was directed by one of my all time favorite movie makers Christopher Nolan. It should have been incredible, and yet it failed on so many levels.
My first instinct was to find a keyboard and begin writing out my disappointment in a long, tangled, review, documenting my emotional distress over this lengthy, convoluted, and sometimes preachy mess of a flick. Seriously, what was Chris thinking? Most of the movie is about Bane, you rarely even see Batman! The Dark Knight Rises really should have been called Bane and the Death of a franchise! UGH!
Deep breath, this isn’t a movie review, deep breath. Okay I feel a little better.
Once my initial reaction reached its zenith and my blood pressure began calming to a reasonable 130 over 80, I was able to step back.
There are good things here. It’s not all bad. I mean, yeah it could have been an hour shorter, but there are some really cool Easter eggs hidden in this film, there are some fan boy moments that deserve to be praised. I chose to write about 5 of those moments, but upon close inspection there are many many many more.
#1 Catwoman is introduced
My five begins with Catwoman. I didn’t really like Hathaway as Catwoman, but she had her moments. To be sure the characters introduction was very satisfying. There she is dressed like a maid after having stolen a pearl necklace from Bruce Wayne’s safe, his mothers pearl necklace none the less. Everything about this scene screams Catwoman, it typifies the complexity of the character. Is she a villain, is she a hero? I’m still not sure.
This scene is followed up with a pretty straight forward Easter egg as Bruce researches Selina Kyle and discovers her mug shot. The picture was a lovingly rendered variation of Adam Hughes’ Catwoman mug shot cover from Catwoman #51 released back in 2006. The picture made its rounds on the internet months ago, but seeing it on the screen still gave me little goose bumps.
#2 Bane Breaks Batman’s back
There are lots of things to complain about, he isn’t big enough for one, his back story has been tweaked a bit, but all those things aside, Bane worked for me. In the comics he was raised in a prison, he’s highly intelligent, incredibly strong, and needs to stay on the respirator or he suffers debilitating pain. Those are the core features of the character, Nolan’s variations worked and Bane was a scary dude. I knew the back breaking scene was coming and I was not disappointed.
The obvious problem with using the character of Bane for a movie is the mask. It couldn’t be helped of course, that’s how he looks. If you change it too much, there will be a lot of angry fans. The mask though is problematic since it covers 60 percent of Tom Hardy’s face. All of Bane’s emotions had to come from his eyes and voice. Hardy overcame those obstacles and created a very cool version of Bane, plus he nailed the voice in my book.
#3 Jumping the Batpod
“You are in for a show tonight, son!” an older Cop says to a Rookie as the Batpod screams down the boulevard. This line alone is worth the scene, lifted almost word for word from the classic “The Dark Knight Returns” by Frank Miller.
The ensuing chase through the streets of Gotham is a blast of pure, unadulterated, Batman, Goodness.
#4 Catwoman Disappears / Kangaroo Court
Deciding to keep this list down to 5 moments made for more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I was so tossed on which scene should have the number 4 spot. Finally I gave up and chose to mash them together into a winner and runner up type situation.
“So that’s how that feels,” Batman growls as he turns to find that he’s talking to thin air and Catwoman has conveniently vanished while he was in the middle of giving her instructions. The line is delivered perfectly. I laughed out loud.
The Scarecrow’s courtroom cameo is more of a runner up for the #4 spot. There had been a lot of rumors swirling around this scene and they all turned out to be true. The courtroom was designed to be sort of a retro British court from the 15th century with Crane perched in his judgment seat high above the accused, his frayed costume reminiscent of his scarecrow alter ego.
Each defendant is accused and given a choice of either Death or Exile, which essentially is death. Justice isn’t always fair.
#5 A New Dark Knight Rises
In my heart of hearts I wanted to call the last 10 minutes of the Dark Knight Rises a long beautiful moment. As a Batman fan boy, the last 10 minutes of the film satisfied the deep dark crevasse of my tiny brain. But instead of calling this last portion a moment, I instead am pulling the moment from those final scenes that made me the happiest.
In the final scene of the film Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character John Blake comes upon the waterfall leading to the Bat-Cave. He climbs down and emerges within the catacombs knee deep in water. As he walks across the cave floor the ground beneath him shifts and the floor begins lifting, pushing him up towards Batman’s lair.
In this moment we know that the torch has been passed. John Black will become Robin, a fact alluded to throughout the movie. Hands down this is my favorite moment. It doesn’t get any better.
So there you go. Love it or hate it, the movie has some merit. It’s better than most comic book movies, not as good as others, but in the end it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth which I already sort of miss.