REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

"A fitting end, but one that will cause debate."

Eight years have passed since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes and although Gotham has enjoyed peace, the weight of this lie has taken a toll, especially on Bruce Wayne who has all but become a ghost.  A new enemy rises forcing Bruce to once again become Batman, but Bane is much more than he appears, a hard truth that will cost Bruce Wayne dearly.

I saw THE DARK KNIGHT RISES three nights ago and I just couldn't write a review for it until now.  I don't know if it was because watching a three hour movie at midnight takes a greater toll on the mind, if the the fact that it was the final one is getting me down, or if it's because of the horrendous shooting that took place at one of the screenings (my heartfelt condolences go out to all families involved in this truly terrible situation).  I just don't know, but for some reason I'm not as pumped as I hoped I'd be.

On the positive end of things Nolan is a genius and proves yet again that he's the defining force that's upped the ante in the comic book film universe.  Hands down brother, you know what you're doing and there's none better (I will say Zack Snyder's definitely second on the list).  Christian Bale brings a layered pathos to Bruce Wayne's character that's unmatched by anyone else to take on the cape and cowl over the years.  This film in particular places Bruce Wayne on the journey of journeys.  If you thought BATMAN BEGINS put him through hell, think again.  That was a day at the park by comparison.  How'd Tom Hardy fare as Bane?  Pretty damn good considering.  For a guy in a mask (I still say he looks like Reptile from Mortal Kombat), Hardy had to focus on facial expressions, eye contact and multi-toned dialogue.  Not an easy feat, but he nailed it.  Not to mention his hand to hand combat is pretty damn impressive as well.

The greatest thing about this film is the dedication it has to the trilogy, offering handfuls of breadcrumbs which connect a series of dots we didn't know where there.  There were cool cameos (I won't ruin them) and a tight storyline involving Bane's origins.  Now as for Bane, I wasn't thrilled about him being portrayed as a glorified terrorist, but it did make sense in Nolan's universe.  I loved the Bane from KNIGHTFALL, and though we didn't get that mirrored storyline here, they did pay a good deal of homage with plenty of winks in that direction.  Anne Hathaway was a decent enough Catwoman, but I'm on the fence about whether or not she needed to be there.  Marion Cotillard's character falls into the same category.  Yes, when you take a step back and examine all the moving parts of the film, they do make sense, but my point is simply this, it could've worked just as well without them (I loved JGL's presence in the film, he added some depth to the police force and that's about all I can say).

Michael Caine's Alfred is also my favorite of any actor to tackle the role, but I have to say I was extremely let down by a decision the character makes that simply felt "un-Alfred like".  I won't get into it (you'll know), but I'm just not buying it.  Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman were a little underused (Freeman especially), which ties into my main problem with the film, the lack of Batman.  Now I know there's a process to the specific journey Bruce Wayne has to take, but come on people, this is a Batman movie and we get next to no Batman.  I loved the added toys the first two films kept throwing at us, but all that is gone this time around with the exception of the "Bat".  It was impressive, don't get me wrong, but not enough.  I hate to sound like I'm knit picking here, but this was a three hour movie and it felt like it, whereas THE AVENGERS flew by like the wind.  I'm not trying to compare the films themselves because they're two separate entities, but if you're going to plant people in seats for three hours you should be damn sure you're pacing is aces.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is everything I would expect from a Nolan led Batman film and more.  Don't let my picking at it fool you, I loved it, but as with all trilogy endings, there's an air of sadness that comes with the realization that it's never going to be this good again, because I seriously don't believe it will be.  I'd like to see Bale in the role of Batman should a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie be in the pipeline, but that opens up a debate in itself.  I'm not stoked to see this film a second time like I usually am when I watch a comic book themed movie, rather I think this film's strength will be in the re-watching of all three films back to back (something I am looking forward to doing).  Christopher Nolan has shown the world just how complex, creative, intelligent and thoroughly engaging comic book characters can be with the right actors and scripts and I can only hope that this bar will remain raised in the coming years.  Will we see Batman again?  I have no doubt.  Will he ever be seen in such a spectacular fashion again?  Probably not.  "Often imitated, but never duplicated" is the phrase that comes to mind.  That said, I'm just thankful Christopher Nolan decided to take on this project, because we fans are all the better for it.  It's been one hell of a ride.

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