The Dark Knight Rises is a bloated movie. It’s filled to the brim with high concepts, increasingly confusing plotholes and somewhat jarring transitions. It also happens to be a spectacular, astonishing and mind-blowing finale to what is one of the greatest epics of all time.
I had never once for a moment thought TDKR would beat The Dark Knight. No, the second outing is to this day the king of the genre. What Nolan does instead, and smartly does so, is create a different beast altogether. Tying more with Batman Begins, TDKR scramble and pushed the audience through a fast paced three hours that does not stop.
What occurs is that the movie sometimes feels too bloated, too ambitious and too big for it’s own good. Then it goes back to it’s characters, to the core of it’s stroy and it tugs at your heart. And it does a double take punch, once at your head at its sheer ferocity, then a second at your heart, with it’s tragic consequences.
But first, let’s talk characters. This has Bruce Wayne at his most vulnerable, and Christian Bale kicks it out of the park with his final, most emphatic turn as our poor orphan. Anne Hathway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, however is a revelation. While Michelle oozed sexines in her turn, Anne just kicks it out of the park with a portrayal that is equal parts classy, dangerous and sensual. Her character is constantly on point and while there are sections where the characters feel lost in this huge juggling act of a movie, she shines in every scene she is in. And yes, the famous sexual tension between the Bat and the Cat is very evident.
Then there is Bane. I must say I was a bit disappointed with Bane. No doubt he is a masterful strategist, and pummels through with sheer ferocity and a physical presence that just dominates every fight scene he is in. But…. Nolan smartly does not focus on him as much as he did Heath’s Joker and for good reason. He is no Joker. He is amazing with what he has, but his role is diminished for a story more on the concept of rising from the ashes. Every character is in a way a pawn to a greater arc, and while this means they get lost every once in a while, once can’t help but feel amazed at the audacity of this director to aim so high.
And as a comic book fan? I am floored. A scene nearly had me in tears, and there were just so many points where I could just feel the coming conclusion, the finality of this arc and it tore me apart. Sure one could argue that the film stretches too long, that sometimes it got muddled up too much for it’s own good and that it was in no way as unpredictable and as frightening as it’s classic predecessor. But what it lacks in that, it makes up for with sheer audacity, scale and a grand ambition that makes it the biggest batman movie of the three, if not the greatest.
What we are left with is a trilogy that defies the concept of genre, a movie that spits in the face of anyone who looks down on the superhero genre as a kid’s tale. This is a movie that makes it’s rightful claim and cements the status of Nolan’s trilogy as the epic that all other epics will be judged by. As I told a friend on the way back, while Avengers was extremely enjoyable and a geek’s dream come true, Nolan proves he isn’t content to sell and adventure, he demands much more from his audience. And while I was ecstatic with Avengers, I’ve come to compare it to being Star Wars as opposed to Nolan’s Bat trilogy being the Godfather. And it’s reputation as so, I suspect, will be well deserved for decades to come. God help the poor soul in charge with rebooting this franchise. He’s got his work cut out for him.