Preliminary Review of “The Dark Knight Rises”


TDKR started at 12:05 am. We had trailers, then the movie itself started about 12:30. We left the theater at 3:30.

I am going to start off with a confession: I spoiled the film for myself.

If you’re going to hate me for this, please blame Christian Bale. The only spoiler I was initially interested in hearing about was confirmation of something I already knew, anyways: who Marion Cotillard played. When that was finally confirmed for me, I was good…

Until I read the Toronto Sun interview. In it, Christian Bale makes a comment about the ending of the film that freaked me the fuck out. If you’ve ever read my post about three arguments pertaining to TDKR that tick me off, then you’ll know what, exactly, freaked me out. So I had to know what Christian was talking about. And in that moment of weakness, I basically learned about the entire movie, including the ending. So I knew what we were getting a few days before the premiere.

With that out of the way… this knowledge did not at all ruin the experience for me. I contend that this is the best Batman film ever made, and it is definitely my all-time favorite movie. It was incredible. I’m still reeling, even now, having slept on it. This movie had me crying, laughing, and more all throughout. It probably helps that the rest of the audience was interacting in a very similar way, so I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot.

There were some issues with the film, of course. Where does Alfred go when he leaves? What happens to Jonathan Crane? Where exactly is the Pit Prison? How does Bruce get back to Gotham?

It was a pretty clunky film and, yeah, it’s the last 20 minutes that really carry this film from great to epic. I can understand why some people were bored by the middle. The lead-up to Batman’s first return was a tad slow, and the part after that, leading up to Batman’s second return, was also slow.

The biggest criticism I’ve ever had with Nolan’s films is the sound. The difference between the quiet parts and the loud parts are so extreme that you either need the subtitles or you need the remote control next to you so you can constantly adjust the sound. On top of that, when speaking occurs during scenes with music and other noises, sometimes the speaking gets drowned out by the music.

TDKR was no different. I missed a few lines here and there, specifically Bane’s and, in two scenes, Gordon’s. That’s not to say that neither were easy to understand. It’s the music that made both a bit hard to hear a few times.

Also, Bane is no Joker. But this is such a stupid argument. Bane was never meant to be the Joker. They are two hugely different villains with two hugely different styles. I honestly felt like Bane was a greater threat to both Batman and Gotham, simply because of the sheer force and power behind him. Bane wasn’t big like comics!Bane, either, but for that I’m really glad. Where Nolan took it was really awesome, IMO, and I think Tom Hardy hit it out of the park.

Over all, even with my criticisms, I give this film 10/10. I loved it. It’s the best live-action adaption of Batman I’ve ever seen. It is definitely my favorite film of 2012, and most likely my favorite film of all time.

I might be seeing it again tonight. I seriously hope so. It was that good.

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About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men. I also play guitar and sing, and I'm an atheist and anti-theist. What now?
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2 Responses to Preliminary Review of “The Dark Knight Rises”

  1. Mr Mikal says:

    You really don’t want to know how I found this article, but I’m here and, if you wouldn’t mind me commenting, I’d like to disagree with your assessment of how this particular movie trumps TDK.

    Before that, however, I would like to say that this movie is still wonderful…but in the end, TDKR didn’t have nearly the emotional or psychological impact that TDK…of course, that’s an opinion. What moves and motivates me could be completely different than what affects you…and that’s fine. Your opinion is still valuable. Still, if I may, I would like to state my case.

    Yes, Bane and the League of Shadows were more dangerous to Batman, and Gotham, having succeeded where the Joker failed. However, Joker’s chaos was supposed to be a conglomeration of hastily, but ingenious plans. Perhaps that’s the flaw, but I’m actually less concerned with the execution of the Joker’s “plans” and more concerned about the execution of Nolan where it came to the handling of this topic. While you could simply take TDK as a loud and violent exposition in chaos with some notable acting, what REALLY lies beneath the subtext of the matter is something that is deeply spiritual, in a way…and ultimately more profound, in my opinion. Nolan’s Joker wasn’t about causing chaos for the sake of “fun” or loud bangs…there was a deeper purpose, no matter how twisted it was, and that was to show that our “code” that makes us a society is so deeply flawed that it’s a wonder that we haven’t devolved sooner. As the Joker so eloquently put it, our “code” is easily dropped at the first sign of trouble. That our society temporarily needs and glorifies our “Batman” because we need him now…but when we’re done, we do cast him out…like a leper. Take, for example, our malleable laws surrounding “torture”…we justify its use, even changing legal definitions to make ourselves feel better…because we think we need it and in order to have it, we’re willing to rewrite our own “rules”…you can abstract this to almost anything, which is the Joker’s point…for him, he would rather live without rules because he doesn’t see the point…that’s why he can cause all this havoc, and take all of the punches…because he has no rules, and thus no consequences…it’s an excruciating dilemma if you really dissect it…and it’s amazing that it sits just below the surface in this movie…it’s easily dismissed if you don’t want to dive in that deep, and the movie still stands up well…but if you’re willing to take the plunge, it’s an AMAZING amount of philosophy and thinking that goes into each of the situations that the Joker sets up. Sure, it’s a clean ending, but again, what Nolan was able to say and make people think about it is by FAR more in TDK than anything that is said in TDKR…it just isn’t that deep…it really isn’t. It’s not shallow…but it’s certainly not TDK. For me, TDK is one of those once-in-a-generation movies, like Empires Strikes Back, or Gone with the Wind.

    TDKR tried to speak in profound terms about what the world would be like being shut off from the world…and while Bane was certainly menacing, and terrifically acted, there wasn’t the same moral dilemma. There wasn’t a psychological choice that anyone really had to make because some people were going to resist (like the cops or Bruce Wayne), or they were just in the dark (like the rest of the citizens). Yes, they tried to show what it would be like if the playing field were “level” so-to-speak, but honestly, you never got the sense that people were really “challenged” to become something they weren’t…primarily because everyone played their part. Part of that is just the execution…that doesn’t mean the challenges weren’t actually there, but they weren’t explained as well in TDKR. Think of it this way…when, when the Joker told everyone to kill the consultant or he’d blow up a hospital, there were several scenes depicting people jumping at the choice, and even some struggling with it…those types of scenes weren’t as prevalent in TDKR…this doesn’t make it a bad movie by any stretch…it just makes it less profound…that’s all.

    Anyway, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to voice my thoughts.

    • First… you may want to split your paragraphs up a bit more in the future. Especially that third paragraph. It wasn’t easy to get through. Not hard, but not easy.

      Second… I actually agree with you, for the most part. TDK was definitely deeper insofar as what it had to say and how it made us think.

      Where I defer with you, I think, is in how I view the films. At no point did I ever go in expecting deep, philosophical thoughts. TDK only had what it had because that was how Nolan chose to portray the Joker. As Nolan himself said, any philosophy in the films only exists as a vehicle to expand on the different characters. TDK was deeper because, essentially, this is the Joker. Bane is a much easier-to-understand villain than Joker. Bane is much less complex. And you may already know this, but that isn’t Nolan’s fault. Joker was always the most complex of Batman’s villains. Bane was a much simpler villain.

      But here’s the thing (and I will get deeper into this when I finally start on my 5-part series on Nolan’s Batman trilogy). TDKR did something that no other comic-book movie has ever done. Yes, it was done in TDK as well, but nowhere near to the extent that it was done in TDKR.

      What was that?

      Simple.

      All bets were off. No one, not even Batman/Bruce Wayne, was safe. Anyone and everyone could have been killed. Nolan piled on the suspense and danger layer after layer, so much so that in that final reveal at the cafe, the crowd in my theater (a packed house, BTW), cheering, stood up, and didn’t sit back down. The standing ovation came before the credits, simply because people were that afraid of Bruce being dead. On top of that, no superhero had ever been shown being defeated so thoroughly.

      With TDKR in the finale, Nolan took comic book movies and turned them on their heads. TDKR is the best for me simply because it capped this off with sheer terror and suspense. Despite everything, I only hated the Joker. But I *despised* Bane. Nolan invented a new kind of comic book movie, IMO. It was a very harsh movie that practically begged you to be unsure, so you could, at the end of it, feel a relief very few movies are able to bring about. That kind of relief that brings a very rare type off standing ovation; one that includes the proclamation “thank God” (which I heard a few times).

      TDK was amazing. Don’t get me wrong. But TDKR strung me along in a very different, much more suspenseful way. And even though I had spoiled the film for myself, I was still afraid for the safety of everyone, including Bruce Wayne himself. The movie actually made me doubt the spoilers I had read, even though I knew they were from good, trusted sources.

      That is damn good story-telling, IMO.

      Also… I actually kinda do want to know how you found this blog. Saying “you don’t want to know” is reverse psychology… just FYI… 😀

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