The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Spoiler Filled Review

Well, it's been a fun seven years, but at last Christopher Nolan's widely loved take on the Batman comes to an end. It's fair to say that there was a vocal minority who didn't care for his dark and gritty take, but I enjoyed it. As far as I'm concerned these three flicks are the definitive cinematic Batman. Nolan is an auteur with a clear passion and understanding for the rules of film, and like all great directors, he knows when to break those rules. I have said time and again that he is the next Martin Scorsese, and my feelings are cemented here.

Okay, here come the spoilers. You have been warned.

Once again, Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne is a man who is willing to sacrifice everything for Gotham City, the city is father died wanting to make a better place. Once again we see that the mantle of the Batman is a symbol of hope in the most corrupt city in the world, and that while it may save a city it is also destroying the man who wears that mantle.

However, sometimes you can take a third option. No, Bruce Wayne does not die, even if he is dead to the world. Throughout the movie, we see Bruce Wayne slowly lose everything. His company, his fortune, his mobility, and even Alfred in one of the most moving scenes in the entire movie. I did not think they would kill him off, and when it looks like they did, I was waiting for the twist, and we got it... but in a way that was moving instead of cheap and hackneyed. Bruce Wayne left the city and the mantle to another to live the life Alfred always wanted him to live.

Anne Hathaway's Catwoman was getting a lot of hate out there in internet land. But, just like everybody screamed about "that gay cowboy playing the Joker," all of the complaining and gnashing of teeth was for nothing. Hathaway owned the role. She wasn't a crazy psycho who got thrown out of a building, she wasn't a thieving environmentalist. She was a cat burglar, and an anarchist with a conscience. Yes, she represents the 99% movement in a lot of ways, but as the movie shows and I think she learns, there is a dark side to that populist uprising.

Everybody is going to be talking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. I know I said this would be a spoiler filled review, but I'll keep this one to myself. But yes, Blake is definitely the next generation.

Now let's talk about our villains. Tom Hardy was a great Bane, and I loved this re-imagining. Bane is a character who, like Venom, I never liked in the comics. So this re-invention as a mercenary and terrorist leader (or is he?) was a welcome one as far as I'm concerned. He was imposing, powerful, smart, and he did break the bat. You put Bane into a movie, that's what you're going to get as that is the one thing the character is famous in the comics for. And I love movie magic for making vertically challenged Tom Hardy be the biggest person on the room.

But the real villain of the movie is Marion Cotilard's character, Miranda Tate. But, if you're a comic book fan, you've figured out she was actually Talia al Ghul over a year ago. I remember being disappointed that Talia wasn't in "Batman Begins" so I was really excited when I heard she was going to be in this.... and being played by Marion Cotilard, whom I've loved forever. Bane was her henchman and lover, this was her revenge scheme. She had the real motive to imprison Bruce and destroy Gotham. She had her hand on a detonator that would destroy Gotham, she maneuvered her way into Bruce Wayne's trust and bed (well, floor blanket is more like it), and she was downright vicious and evil once she revealed herself in a scene I wish I didn't see coming. But that's more on me, and not on the movie. It was all very well done.

Was it a perfect movie? No. I thought it had structural problems. I think I liked the previous two Batman films more. BUT this movie does not suffer from third movie syndrome like the awful "Return of the Jedi," "Spider-Man 3" and "X-Men 3" do. This is one of those rare third films that is a gem, and can be placed alongside "The Return of the King" to cap off a fantastic trilogy.

Shane Black, the next third movie is yours. I look forward to seeing it.


  1. I was always shaking my head at the people who were crying "MISCAST!" at Anne Hathaway. Did we really learn nothing from Heath Ledger? Well, it seems already people are learning the same lesson all over again.

    Technically, the REAL real villain of this movie was the "ghost" of Ras Al Ghul, or his lingering legacy, which I love because it brings the whole thing full circle.

    Unlike "The Return of the King" or "Toy Story 3", this was still the weakest of the trilogy, but "weakest" does not equate to "bad" at all in this one's case. This movie, and this trilogy, was solid. (Though FTR, I enjoy "Return of the Jedi" and "Spider-Man 3", but to each their own.)

  2. I've just gotten back from it and it was a great movie.

    I had a few problems with it though. There was way to much heavy handed foreshadowing. Blake, Alfred, Bruce's end, all of the ending in fact kept being foreshadowed like a brick to the face.

    Catwoman was great and probably the best part of the movie. I wish we'd gotten more of her. Bane was well done also.

    For my money though I still think Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie.