The Fire Rises – Saying goodbye to the Dark Knight Trilogy

The summer season came to its full peak with the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”, the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. The film was wildly anticipated, and was advertised as the definitive ending to Nolan’s story, or legend (hardy-har-har) of Batman. Well I have finally seen the film and I must say, Nolan was able to give a grand way of fully closing his book of Batman, leaving practically no stone unturned.

Rises was the fastest two hours and forty minutes of my life. The pacing is ridiculously fast, so fast in fact that your head will be spinning when you leave the theater. While at times it can be a bad thing and take away from the film, there is not a question that the movie knows how to really make a nearly three hour film fly by.

Now this “review” will be focusing on the positives of the film, the various negative aspects, its lasting impact on the trilogy, and overall my opinions and feelings on the third installment. Now forgive me if i go off topic or tangents, but this film has gotten a lot of hatred and fanboy complaints so I wish to rant right back. So let’s get cracking! (get it? cause Bane cracks Batman’s back? oh yeah there’s some spoilers…oops[i said that like Catwoman, are you disturbed?])

There has been a major debate a-foot as to whether or not it was a good idea to set the film eight years ahead of the Dark Knight. Many feel that the film is so distant from the Dark Knight because (as well as any and all exclusions of the Joker) it just feels like a straight up sequel to Batman Begins. Well in this case I totally disagree.

Finally after years of waiting, we are getting the experienced, brooding Bruce Wayne from such materials as The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Beyond. Bruce has been battered and broken by the events of the Dark Knight. Without the eight year span of self punishment we wouldn’t have this destroyed man. I’m not talking the emotional bullshit with Rachel, but Bruce’s soul has simply been shattered by the chaos and destruction that Joker brought forth with him, as well as his dedication of treating Harvey Dent as the symbol of hope for Gotham.

He has given up the cape and cowl. Given its ridiculous that Rachel factored into this which made Batman a bit on the side of pussy whipped, but the fact that he gave it up to push Dent as Gotham’s savior, and basically wipe out all crime in Gotham really make his resignation more believable and just adds so much more depth to his character. This is not the young hip Bruce, this is the codger with the cane, the defeated man that hides in the shadows. The classic Bruce Wayne everyone loves to read about.

Now for the five billion fanboys who have been complaining that this trilogy doesn’t show Batman enough, you really need to shut your mouths. These films are the purest form of Batman and what he represents. Remember how fanboys of Star Wars kept complaining there should be more Jedi in the prequels and lightsabers are awesome when there’s five thousand? Yeah that worked out great in Attack of the Clones.

Batman as a medium isn’t about the number of times we see him on-screen bashing sculls in, its about what he represents to the people of Gotham. Batman’s absence is talked about greatly in the film. We see how much the people needed him in the past and needed him now when the shit was hitting the fan. And you know what? This makes it so much more immense when in both instances of the film he makes his return as Batman. It makes the stakes higher and the fights better because who knows what could happen to him. This is the end of the road for both Wayne and Batman, and finally there are risks involved that don’t include morons on two ferrys about to blow up; there are real dangers. Oops [said like Catwoman].

Now let’s talk about some new characters. First up is Bane and Miranda Tate/Talia Al-Ghul. Tom Hardy’s performance of Bane nearly matched up with the power and emotion that came along with the Joker. Given Bane cannot get under Batman’s skin and morals as much, but my God can he fight him. Bane is a fucking freight train of death, plain and simple. He makes every scene he’s in an emotional rollar coaster, again very similar to the way Joker could command a room. There is not much more I could say about Bane other than what a brilliant performance and character. The twist that he was Talia’s body guard is a slight comedic nod to Batman & Robin while at the same time still not explaining to us where Bane came from, which is the best kind of character to see.

Talia, for the fanboys, was not much of a shocker to see. If you pay close enough attention to the film, it becomes pretty apparent who she will be and how she got there. Her becoming the main villain was very entertaining, and brings the trilogy full circle BUT her introduction into the film was hilariously rushed and very poorly written. Overall a good performance by Marion Cotillard, but was not explored enough due to simply not enough time.

Up next at Bat (haha) is Selina Kyle. I hate when people go on and on about how they couldn’t believe that Anne Hathaway could be sexy, how could she possibly pull off Catwoman. Have you seen her in Brokeback Mountain or Havoc? No? …oh

Well anyways, I really think its fucking stupid for people not to put their trust in someone to pull off a role solely based on an image of sexuality. This isn’t a fucking Michael Bay movie.

I got a little angry there. ANYWAYS

The Selina Kyle of Dark Knight Rises is hands down the most faithful to the source material. This is the Selina Kyle basically ripped right up from Batman: Year One. She’s brilliant, has plans of almost Joker-esque intricacies, and also has her morals swayed by Batman. This isn’t the fairy tale Catwoman of Tim Burton land, this is the ass kicker who delves way too far into the world of crime. She’s not a vigilante, she’s simply looking out for herself. Given her relationship with Batman doesn’t quite have time to grow out as much as tens of years in the comics, but you still see the attractions and conflicts that come with their relationship. Selina understands why Batman is what he is. Given she’s been down the beaten path she is still a good person with clouded judgement, and just like everyone else in Gotham, Batman helps her. This is their attraction.

In one of the best scenes of the film, Selina begs him to just give it up and leave with her. She knows of his sacrifices, and again, in a true showing of what these films represent, Batman responds in telling her he hasn’t fully given Gotham everyone. He hasn’t given them Batman’s soul.

Lastly we get to John Blake. This character is one of my semi-complaints with the movie. This character was such a cop-out (haha puns). Why couldn’t this character just be named Dick Grayson. He is the EQUIVALENT of Robin in this universe. It wouldn’t have been the biggest deal, but anything to make sure that Bale stays happy.

I know this is a very minute detail, but why is his name Robin at the end, make his legal name Dick Grayson! Would have had such a better pay off to the fanboys but instead all the ‘casual’ fans in the audience get satisfied cause the word Robin was uttered. The fact that he could deduct that Bruce was Batman really made the character a more intelligent one, and made it more reasonable for him character to end up where he is. I liked the character overall, made me feel like there was another intelligent cop in Gotham who wasn’t Gordon, but again, not making him Dick Grayson felt like the weirdest thing that was done for basically no reason.

For my finale of this epic blog entry, I’m going to get into the plot, some of the problems I had with the film, and then my final overall verdict? Excited? No? …oh.

One thing I failed to mention was music. The music was great. The constant pounding drums of Bane’s arrival really add so much more danger to his character, as well as make everything feel much more grand. The addition of Selina Kyle’s theme was quite non-Zimmer and perfectly captured the essence of the character. None of it quite reaches the creative high of Dark Knight’s score, but still has solid music across the board.

For the entire trilogy, this film really brings it all the way around. Just like the previous two films, this one really focuses on Batman’s relationship with the city, and how if it is at risk to fall, he must fall along with it. It delves much deeper into what being Batman means, and what him as a symbol reflected. Back to the review though…

The story overall was very well told. I get really upset when “critics” claim that if Heath Ledger hadn’t died the film would have been better. I like to think that the Joker was PERFECT for this story and would have slipped right in as a supporting cast member. As Mask of the Phantasm taught us, Joker is fucking awesome when he just pops right in. Can’t you see him fitting right in by middle of the second act, assisting Bane with his destruction of Gotham.  Seeing Gotham crumble wasn’t just the League of Shadows’ goal, it was also Joker’s dream. It also could have made a more interesting finale with Joker not allowing Bane to kill Batman instead of Catwoman pulling a deus-ex-machina.

There are still some things with the film that just didn’t feel right at all. Nolan has for this entire trilogy had a problem with introducing characters. Usually he leaves it to the audience to interpret and understand who everyone is. In the Dark Knight this was very easy to follow. We know the Joker, Lau was the banker, the Russian and Maroni were the gangsters, Dent the new hero, it was all very clean cut. In Rises, however, they are trying to fit in as much as possible, I can’t tell you much about any new characters aside from Catwoman, Blake, Bane, and Quinn from “Dexter” (wait…what? Oh HAI Desmond Harrington).

The movie’s biggest flaws are its pacing, editing, and lack of explanation for things. This movie should have been three and a half hours. It never really had time to breathe. We never had time to take in either points of Bruce’s injuries, which made his road to recovery much harder to believe. There is so much more going on action wise than in the Dark Knight, it needs more of the dialogue heavy scenes to support it and help widen the scope more. This lack of talking really made the film seem more condensed and you feel like you need to keep up with its break neck speed.

The editing is all over the place, especially with the ending. Alfred seeing Bruce still alive with Selina lacks any emotion it goes by so quickly. It literally feels like Nolan is shoving you out the door. Even though I was satisfied with the arch of the trilogy, this was not a proper way of giving your film an ending. Give it the old Return of the King treatment, we’ve waited four years for this dammit.

Lack of explanation. Given the dialogue does its best to explain things, but it more or less comes off as terrible terrible expositionary dialogue that really doesn’t help. This was not quite a visual storytelling movie. They needed to explain WAY too much in talking. And it doesn’t help when it comes to characters names or machines. Another thing that happens with the dialogue is a lot of repetition from the first two films. Alfred gives his usual bitter-sweet speech, some lines sound nearly repeated from Dark Knight, but thank the good Lord there were not nearly as many stupid cop lines as the last installment.

Okay let’s end this. All in all I was extremely satisfied with The Dark Knight Rises, it had many memorable scenes (especially Selina confronting Batman about his sacrifices and Gordon finding out who Batman really was), improved romantic relationships over the first two films, brilliant Bane fight, awesome chase scenes, EXTREMELY slightly improved cop dialogue, lack of stupid kids, and a semi-nice way of closing the book. Even though I wish Dick Grayson (he’s not fucking John Blake) would have just said ‘I’m being Batman or Nightwing’ instead of taking on the mantle as Robin, it would have made it a slightly less silly reveal. But, the fact that Bruce fully gave up the cowl, knowing Gotham was in good hands with Dick (haha), it really ended the trilogy on a strong note and fully respect and salutes and relationship/dynamic of Batman and Robin in the comics. Is this the best film of the summer? No (Avengers). Is it the best of the trilogy? No. But it is still a solid film that holds up well with the rest of the trilogy.