My quick reflections and initial reactions to the Dark Knight Rises. I think the last Batman film appealed to a wider audience than usual, and that much of that wider audience won’t like this film as much because it’s more drama centered on Bruce Wayne’s character than on action. The Joker was a huge appeal in the last film, such that many overlooked the fact that his primary function in the story was to reveal the depth of Bruce Wayne’s character through how he chose to utilize the symbol of the Batman.
Let me say one thing about what I didn’t like about this film: the previews. I hate previews that giveaway what would have otherwise been mind-blowing surprises in the theater. Almost every single “surprise” scene was given away in one of the previews, especially the explosions on the football field. That was a powerful scene that was robbed by the lack of surprise. I knew it was going to happen so I almost ignored it while I was watching. I believe this had to be a compromise Christopher Nolan made to appease the studio which was nervous about getting the same hype they did for the last film in lieu of now being Jokerless. They must have felt the need to give away too much too early in order to draw people back in. As far as I’m concerned they should have just shown a picture of a bat in the previews and nothing else, and the hype from the last film combined with their secrecy would have driven people out of their minds to go see it. As it is, everyone who has seen the previews has seen a good bit of the shock and awe the film has to offer by way of action.
That being said, the bulk of the action is pretty old school, with almost a medieval feel to it as cops take to the streets and have hand to hand combat with the villain’s henchmen. Batman and Bane fight hand to hand on several occasions in what serves to be like a superhero UFC match. It’s gritty in an old school comic book way, with some effects to make the punches sound like a butcher tenderizing meat, but still just two really strong guys beating the snot out of each other. It is more about what the fight means for good and evil than how flashy it is. Those people wanting Iron Man style action will only get a minimal dose. The action feeds the drama in this film, not the other way around. This entire series has been a rather unique take on Batman, that melds the best of the themes that have been with the character over the years with current sentiments and style. It’s a masterpiece, and I would say it’s Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus if I didn’t believe that he is just getting started.
There’s much to said about any film, more than I have time to give to a mere hobby. But some folks have been asking me what I thought in some more detail so I thought I’d crank a bit of that out. Try to ignore the previews, and watch this film with a mind focused on a powerful story more than than an eye for flashy effects. With the proper viewing emphasis, I think it’s indisputable that Nolan is out-screenwriting and directing everyone, winning more awards, and making more money than everyone but James Cameron doing it. I think the questions of how and why Nolan is pulling this off are the most compelling aspects of this entire project.