Was it as good as all the hype surrounding it? Could it possibly be better than The Dark Knight? Does Nolan have another homerun on his hands? All good questions. Here are my thoughts on the film (fair warning: spoilers ahead)...
What I’ve been telling people is that the movie was fantastic, but the ending was underwhelming. There’s a bigger picture (and point) here, but first let’s go through some of the finer points.
The movie was excellent. Cheer-worthy fight scenes (indeed, I did), great dialogue, as well as truly moving sadder scenes. That one scene when Batman and Catwoman were walking to meet Bane was particularly cool, and the movie only got better from there. There were many great wraparounds from the beginning of the film to the end, and there were a bunch of cues back to the first Batman movie. The series came full circle in a brilliant way, and watching a movie after so much anticipation and excitement felt surreal. This whole movie was very well planned. Anne Hathaway was actually really, really good — particularly in that bar scene. She really sold the character, something that many were worried about.
And about that dialogue, here are some favorites:
- “That’s what it feels like...” - Batman, as he turned around to find that Catwoman had vanished.
- “Then you have my permission to die.” - Batman, returning Bane’s own line. (Let out an audible cheer in the theatre here.)
- “Sometimes the knife is too slow” - Batman to Tate when the trigger failed to work.
- “Or perhaps he’s wondering why you would shoot a man before you throw him out of a plane” - Bane to a man threatening to shoot, well, you get the idea...
- “This isn’t a car” - Batman after Catwoman says that her mother told he never to get into cars with strangers.
Moving onto the few negatives here, Tate was actually quite bad. Underdeveloped and slightly pointless. Loved Cotillard in Inception, but not here. And, you knew this was coming, at the end of the day Bane was not as strong a villain character as The Joker. And there were slight oddities in the plot as well, although nothing major. (The biggest thing I caught was the fact that Bruce Wayne was able to get back to Gotham despite all the bridges being blown out. Then again, he is Batman so I’m sure he found a way.)
And now on to the big picture here. The movie was great. The plot was intricate and well done. But it was a “final act” film. It seemed slightly rushed and unfocused trying to get everything in. Characters were underdeveloped.
Let’s take a step back for a second though. Right from the get-go The Dark Knight Rises has a very different tone than either of its predecessors. Not good or bad, just different. Or, think about it this way: the first film had to introduce Batman, the second film was left to just purely explore Batman as a character, while the third movie had to wrap everything up. By definition we all knew that some sort of conclusion was coming, and you were looking forward to seeing what it would be the entirety of the film.
The finale: We were all looking forward to find out what the crazy ending to the Batman series would be and instead we got something very simple, straightforward, and overused. Especially compared to The Dark Knight’s ending. Between Sherlock Holmes (both the movies and the excellent TV show), The Prestige (another Nolan film), House, The Illusionist — we must have seen the “main character fakes his death for reason x,y, or z” ending dozens of times by now. Of course, The Dark Knight Rises did it better than any of those throwing us quite a few bones like Catwoman, Robin “rising” at the end, the League of Shadows truly being gone leaving Gotham in peace. And here’s a thought: The only confirmation we get of Bruce actually still being alive is from Alfred. What if he imagined the whole thing? Don’t mean to get all Inception-y on you here, but what if he did? We did see Batman in his ship with the bomb with only 5 seconds left on the clock. Unless you chalk that up to strange editing, there’s no way he survived that 6-mile blast radius.
But even with that slight twist, at the end of the day its the same overused ending at its core.
The ending of The Dark Knight was genius, poetic, and riveting. It caused the entire movie to fall neatly into place. It wasn’t happy. It wasn’t sad. It was intense and it left you thinking. The ending of The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t nearly as riveting and doesn’t resonate in the same way. Imagine if, instead of what actually happened, you only saw Alfred smile at the end, but didn’t actually get to see what he was smiling at. Would have been cooler, no?
The ending was totally and completely happy. Now, that’s not a bad thing. And there is still the fact that Gotham thinks Batman died, etc. but the ending was almost too perfect. There was nothing bittersweet at all. In the “realistic” world of Batman that Nolan created an ending like the one we got seemed slightly out of place.
And that’s just the thing. This movie brought us out of the “dark” and into the light. As Harvey Dent said, “the night is darkest just before the dawn”. By the end of The Dark Knight Rises the dawn had come. We just weren’t expecting it to ever come. Kind of like the people of Gotham themselves.
The movie was excellent and deep, as all Nolan films are, but the ending — the conclusion of all of Batman — was not. It was cliché and too perfect. The ending was happy and satisfying. There was closure and what to ponder over, but it was not nearly as intriguing as it could have been. But that’s what it seems like we’re going to have to get used to when it comes to the endings of series.
Whatever the case, this genius tweet holds so true after seeing The Dark Knight Rises:
#1: My personality is 30% the last movie I watched.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) July 26, 2012