Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

“The Dark Knight Rises” on IMDB

Action, 164 Minutes, 2012

There are two ways (at least) to consider “The Dark Knight Rises”.  The first (and correct) way is as the capstone to a self-contained “Batman” story that owes us nothing but a profound respect of the character we love.  The second way, one that the angrier parts of the Internet seem to have latched onto, is as an entry into a larger, continuing “Batman” timeline.  Considered as part of a larger whole, or worse, as a stepping stone to the rumored, much-anticipated “Justice League” movie, the film fails to properly stage the character.  I would simply argue that there was no requirement to do this.

(As an aside I was also thrilled to be able to see this in Cinemark XD without having to deal with extra shit on my face.  While I’m not militantly against 3D it is continously annoying that you’re forced to choose it to see something with the best screen and sound.)

Nolan was not building a franchise, he was telling a story.  One with a beginning, a middle and – the point that seems to have some fans panties in a bunch – an end.  This isn’t a story from “Detective Comics”; this is a Frank Miller mini-series.  Rather than simply adding to the timeline of the character it redefines how we need to think about the character.  It doesn’t matter that this, specific, Batman will not appear again.  This Batman will define future incarnations for years to come.

Apart from the intricacies of geek-level infighting the movie, taken alone, was absolutely stunning.  Nolan is at the height of his skills.  As good as “Inception” [IMDB] was, this is better – by a long-shot.  One lesson he’s clearly learned is the power of silence.  The initial battle with Bane, for example, features no background score allowing the sheer brutality of the exchange to slam into you completely.  This

Many of the tertiary characters to shine nearly as brightly as our hero.  Batman has never stood alone and the script is very comfortable demonstrating that.  I was unsure of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (I’ve never found her particularly ingratiating) but was happily surprised at how well she captured the character.  I was a bit disappointed that Gotham, itself, didn’t rise to the level it might have (it’s basically indistinguishable from NYC).  It’s hard to remember the depth of personality and character of Gotham in Tim Burton’s “Batman” [IMDB] and not see this as a missed opportunity.

Like many other comic fans it was difficult to see Nolan dismantling many of our beloved institutions in his effort to end his story as he saw appropriate.  At the same time Batman is one of the most versatile and adaptable characters ever created.  This is a brilliant ending to a brilliant stand-alone Batman story.  It is sad to know that we won’t see this Bruce Wayne any longer, but heartening to know that his impact won’t soon be forgotten.

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