The Dark Knight Rises – Thoughts

This isn’t going to be a review of The Dark Knight Rises. If you really want to go read a review about it, I’m sure there’s much more qualified reviews out there to take care of that for you. If you want my personal opinion on whether or not this movie is worth seeing, I’ll just outright tell you right now that you should.

The Dark Knight Rises is a good movie. A very good movie, part of a really great series. If you haven’t watched the previous two Nolanverse movies, you really should go watch those first. That’s how a proper series works.

That said, it’s spoiler time.spoiler warning

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m very impressed at the trilogy of movies that Nolan has delivered. In a time where comic book movies have almost become a constant, it’s a very special feat to stand out from the rest of the crowd movies.

Not just once, but three times in a row.

I think what really made it work is that, despite really being, looking, and possibly even smelling like Batman, it doesn’t rely on a well-known name for us to latch on to. Batman, despite being a crutch for Bruce Wayne, possibly for all of Gotham City, never became a crutch for the movies.

Most superhero movies give us the familiar origin stories or well-known story arcs. If they don’t, they tend to almost exclusively focus on one singular arc from the comic book series, assuming that it would otherwise be too much to swallow for the uninitiated, while at the same time hoping it will be enough to please the geeks.

Bane’s story, while full of references to story arcs within the Batman comics, didn’t feel like just one comic’s arc. The same thing goes for The Joker’s role in The Dark Knight.

Had the series played it safe, they’d have started with Batman facing The Joker shortly after donning the mask. Everyone knows The Joker the best of all the villains, so the safest route would be to go for him from the start. Instead, we went for the backstory about Batman’s training, which most non-comic book people likely still don’t see as something that ever happened outside the movies.

I really like how the series has used familiar story threads from the Batman universe properly to put together a world that these movies took place in by themselves, instead of working on the “but it’s a comic book movie” assumption that especially Marvel is working on now with how they’re tying their universe together in recent movies.

Not that what Marvel is doing is bad, I’m all in favor of it. But the way the stories unfold and are delivered to us feels like it hasn’t changed since the ’80s. In comparison, the Batman movies feel a lot more modern, drawing a dark contrast between itself and what you’d usually expect from a comic book movie.

So, why did I spend so much time going on about this, instead of just talking about the movie? It actually ties in with something that would have otherwise been my biggest complaint this movie…

Where’s Batman?

It felt like most of the movie was a long wait for Batman to appear. In fact, I’m almost sure that the Flubber creature had more screentime in his own movie, even if you don’t count the dancing scene that had nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Flubber

The Flubber Rises

Imagine Iron-Man 2 where you rarely see the suit. Thor not focussing on the Norse god. Avengers without the Avenging…

It wouldn’t work. You’re going in to see the titular cast, the big hero. Waiting for the big confrontation.

The Dark Knight Rises gives us… Master Wayne being a recluse. Then a prisoner. Oh yeah, a weakened Batman getting his back broken after being toyed around with. It takes almost the entire movie before we finally see Batman fight his war at full force. Before flying off into the sunset with a bag of gold, never to be seen again.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

It worked.

In the same way Batman Begins worked. They’re not trying to be good Batman movies, they’re just trying to be good movies as a whole. All three movies are a success in this, with or without caped screentime.

Although not without mistakes or problems.

I didn’t like how Bane turned into a henchmen during the last few minutes of his time on-screen, or how casually he was just pushed aside almost immediately after.

Despite that, the way they did it was quite clever. The way a twist should be done. While adding more to the movie, and being played out really well, it felt like it didn’t fit. It was like a puzzle that you’ve completed, only to find there actually was another piece to it, shifting the image uncomfortably into something else that just doesn’t feel right.

And then you discard the puzzle, just as casually as Bane got dealt with immediately after.

Bane was good though. Even if I had some problems with the voice early on, I actually found it really fitting later on. It brought a much more sinister feel to the character as a whole.

There were a few moments were the audio levels for it felt kind of… weird. Maybe it’s something only I picked up on, but at a lot of moments it sounded like they didn’t bother editing the sound to make his dubbing consistent with the rest of the audio track. It felt completely seperate from the rest of the movie.

It’s also interesting to note that Bruce Wayne’s identity was so easy to figure out for people. Good thing they didn’t keep the whole “world’s best detective” thing in these movies, because it seems like he could very easily be outdone by bad guys all too easily.

The jabs a lot of characters had at Bruce’s paranoia were great though. If Batman ever had a super power of any kind, it would have to be his paranoia and his constant need for backup plans. It was a nice touch for this movie to have characters just say it outright.

I still have a lot more notes regarding the movie, but even just looking at Twitter, I’ve come across people discussing exactly those things all too often, so I won’t bring them up again.

The Dark Knight Rises was a good. Not my favorite Batman movie. That still goes to The Dark Knight for me, especially in terms of overall atmosphere, but it’s up there.

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