I was overwhelmed with emotions during the last moments of “The Dark Knight Rises,” tears streaming down my cheek. Not just because of what had happened on screen, but also because of the fact that I will not see another Batman movie came out from this very same team. Christopher Nolan and his team has been delivering one of the best trilogy that would surely going down in history of cinema as a classic. And unlike most other classic trilogy, I have lived through all three, building anticipation and anxiety in waiting for each installment since 2008. In all fairness, it may still fall short from “The Dark Knight” but, taken as a whole, this movie provides what many other trilogies has not. An epic conclusion to what would become a legend, a respectable bow out, one that, as I have done after the lights went on and the credit rolls, deserves a good and long standing ovation (tears optional).
I’ve been a fan of Batman for as long as I could remember. Although I didn’t know it back then, something from the Batman character has always fascinates me. He’s different than say, Superman, whose values about good and evil are as clear and as hard as the edge of his jawline. My young mind senses a complicated character behind the scowl and the mask that even the ridiculous Adam West’s TV series could not hide. But, probably, not until “Batman Begins” have I finally seen a some sort of articulation of the turmoil inside Bruce Wayne and his needs to hide behind the mask, to become a symbol, to become a Batman.
This inner turmoil of Bruce Wayne is decidely more apparent in this last installment. “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epitome of Bruce Wayne. Not until the final third of the film (which is awesome, by the way) did we see the fearsome Batman in his full glory and not the torn and broken Bruce Wayne. He is, after all has been gone from the skies of Gotham after his alleged murder of Harvey Dent eight years prior. This movie is more about the drama and less about the glamorous superhero against supervillain. For example, while I have no doubt that “The Avengers” would overcome any obstacles Loki thrown at them, I have a constant fear for Batman in this movie. Bane may not be as memorable as Joker from the previous installment, but he is probably the closest to match Batman. Their last fist-to-fist action is a scene to behold where Bane is ferociously charging like a wounded and raged bull. The way he’s throwing a one-two punch at Batman is reverberating through screen and I was left shivered and jaw agape about how that simple takes could deliver so much emotions. I would gladly pay to watch that scene alone. In this way, I am more invested to Batman character like I have never before. Even though I’m vaguely aware of what will going to happen next, I am constantly perched on the edge of my seat, waiting what the story will throw to the masked crusader.
Arguably, “Batman Begins” had sets the tone of superhero films that follows after it, and subsequently elevated the genre into a more serious zone. After this trilogy, another higher bar was set. Every character adds layer to the drama, and the masked heroes or villains, are nothing but props. I feel Christian Bale is more effective as Bruce Wayne than he is as Batman. Sir Michael Caine has the most effective tear inducing scenes, not to mention Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman. The scene stealers are Joseph Gordon-Levitt (although, as my wife puts it, put him stand next to Christian Bale and to her eyes, he’s gone completely) and surprisingly, Anne Hathaway. Catwoman is my least favorite character in the Batman universe, but I dare say that Anne Hathaway is a perfect fit for its character. For me, this is her best role yet. I could well see how Batman/Bruce Wayne would fall for her. As it should be.
In my book, “The Dark Knight” is a perfection of cinema. The masterpiece delivery of the Joker character from the late Heath Ledger and the unfortunate death makes the role even more glorified and sacred, that any follow up to that will be hard to top, even downright impossible. From the get go, “The Dark Knight Rises” follows up needs to be flawless if it wants to trounce its predecessors. A tall order indeed. And sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it’s not flawless.
I have a more than average familiarity with Batman universe. At least enough to know that the brief history of Bane as told in the movie was taken from “Vengeance of Bane” but with some alteration from Christopher Nolan to fit his timeline. I was surprised (in a very good way) with one of the key changes. All told, as a quite well versed Batman reader, I have a ton of fun with the story. However, it should be noted and perhaps this is where the movie tend to fall apart for average viewers, “The Dark Knight Rises” story is a very complex one. Layers upon layers of stories and characters on top of one another that sometimes, I had a feeling that non-Batman readers would find it just a tad confusing. At one point of the movie, I felt that “wow, things are going too quickly,” and upon reflection, I felt that there are things that should and shouldn’t be there to make the story flows better. In another director’s hand, this movie will probably going to be splitted into two, and both will be equally held high and even probably, has a more coherrent plot and tighter flow. But, this is Nolan’s mark in the history of cinema, and who am I to judge him to do otherwise? Besides, what I have is probably just a minor qualm, a nit-pick if you will, due to a ridiculous expectation placed upon this movie’s shoulder after the magnificent, and near perfect “The Dark Knight.”
I still think that this movie is going to be my favorite movie of the year even if it wasn’t going to arrive at the same level as “The Dark Knight” is. With this movie, the trilogy is complete, its classic status is anything but established, and Christopher Nolan and his team has once again, raised the bar for superhero movies. Although to be quite honest, the DC line-ups are the one who will be going to suffer a bit more.
I can’t accentuate it enough but “The Dark Knight Rises” is more of a heavy drama disguised in a superhero costume. In its own right, it’s an epic movie that will get lots and lots of analyses, especially with how close the theme was to the real life as we know it (the 99%). I don’t think that this movie will get much love from a casual moviegoer (overheard already that some girls are simply asleep during one of its many expositions), but for those who care, this movie will pull a lot of heartstrings. For me, personally, I was amazed by its ferocity, ecstastic with its grandiose and proper treatment of my favorite superhero, and in the end, very very sad, because I don’t know how long do I have to wait for another movie like this. I can’t explain it with words, because how could you explain an avalanche of emotions that engulfing one’s soul into words, written or spoken?
In the end, you may not experience what I had experienced with “The Dark Knight Rises.” I don’t expect you do, because to each his own. But this movie intertwined with my childhood, my inexplainable infatuation to the cape crusader, and Nolan has accomplished what he sets out to do with flying colors. Other filmmakers about to take a superhero genre should take note on his craft.
Now I hope that the next director who takes on Batman didn’t screw up this legacy.