It has been eight years after "The Dark Knight", and the death of Harvey Dent has left it's mark on Gotham. Bruce Wayne has hung up his cape and walks with a limp and a cane (I can relate, and there is a medical condition mentioned as well). Bane appears and terrorizes the citizens of Gotham. The Batman dons his armor once more, and battles the fiend for the survival of Gotham.
This is my plot spoiler-free impressions of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. But to be safe, DO NOT READ ON if you want your experience of the movie to be untainted and uninformed! But was the movie a bull's eye in the hearts of fans? Or a dull-dud? Read-On!
IMPRESSIONS OF THE MOVIE:
"The Dark Knight Rises" (TDKR) is the weakest of the trilogy, without the wondrous sense of discovery found in the first; "Batman Begins", to the visceral and mind-smackdown of "The Dark Knight". But that does not diminish it's value nor importance to the lore, in fact, it provides a framework by which the trilogy itself is immortalized in the history of cinema, and of how they affected the superhero genre in the movies, IMHO.
I admire the 'arrogance' of the claim that this is the END of the Nolan-trilogy, by which the infamy of the director had now eclipsed that of the titular character "Batman". Of course the Batman-lore will continue - as the ending of the film eludes to be .. but of course I had said too much already … ;p
TDKR is dense. Mayhap a bit too dense and cerebral (for my tastes), but perhaps this is the way of The Nolan, and no doubt as well we've been spoilt with wanton acts of superhero-antics in the recent years, what with enchanted hammers and ricocheting shields, gamma-radiated monsters hitting 'Gods', and miracle-channeling space-rings, without a shred of doubt, indeed.
"Inception" might have been a mind-bender, but the underlining story for TDKR is intense, with the sense of family and love breaking down, unnerving. The road to redemption is long and winding, but somehow less satisfying that I had hoped it would be. But then again, I am speaking as a man recovering from Stroke, so mine might not be the most unbiased impressions to be had LOL
The concept of deceit and betrayal is both 'interesting' (reading comicbooks might help bolster the story "twist") and 'confusing', but nevertheless apt, at the very least to bring about the wrap-up of the trilogy, methinks. I might have liked the movie immensely, but I do not feel that I "loved" it. Or perhaps it is something that will grow on me, in time? Hey, I "loved" The Avengers, but somehow can't remember it now, except for when I type all of these out LOL
IMPRESSIONS OF CHARACTERS & ACTORS:
Everyone has a chance at the spotlight, as much as Batman himself, actually. And given the 165 minutes duration, there is hardly any space for their characters to breathe and be given further depth, unfortunately. Be that as it may, if given a chance, perhaps a two-part ending would justify it's legendary status? But perhaps that is one movie too many too much for filmgoers, IMHO.
Anne Hathaway is a stirling vision of sensuality in the tightness of the 'Catwoman' suit ("Selina Kyle" was NEVER mentioned as "Catwoman" in the movie tho) and turned out to be quite a revelation. Her quirky sense of attractiveness never overshadowed her condition of her environment or habitat, and that is one sweet spot of casting, I have to say. Kudos for the choice. The shot of her riding away on the Batpod into the dawning sun, might well stir up some "uprisings" in some folks in the cinema too, I reckon!
"Bane" was both a force to be reckoned with on the silver screen, as well as a slight disappointment. His audio was extremely hard to follow (at least for me) and irritated me more than excited me. And he has loads of dialog-lines to say too!
Actor Tom Hardy's acting via his body mannerisms and his eyes, gave a depth to the character that puts him in the upper-echelons of screen villains, with the only thing bugging me was the thinness of his eyebrows lol
Folks might go on about the lack of connection but for the name, with the comicbook version - I say to watch "Batman & Robin" to get your caricature-take, and decide for yourselves LOL
What I was more impressed with this incarnation, was the sheer "beefiness" of his build, rather than a defined muscle-bound clod, and that makes a difference between caricature and character-building, IMHO.
We last saw actress Marion Cotillard in Nolan's "Inception" (as the deranged wife of Leonardo's), and her role in TDKR as "Miranda Tate" was more than what she had mentioned before, and as well "denied" to be. I am with mixed feelings about her role here, tho pivotal to the plot, proved underwhelming.
One fact that bugged me silly, was that at her "last" scene, where she laid on the left, instead of on the right, as seen prior to said scene? (Am not really going to give away what that scene was tho). Now that's shoddy continuity if I ever laid eyes on! And that's not the only problematic scene too!
One OTHER thing which bugged me immensely, was the editing when Gotham was in the trawls of villainy, a particular sequence involving Tate and other characters, then followed by the subsequent "reveal" scene - it was either a foreshadowing of her role in the scheme of things, or basically just bad story-telling that everyone took for granted and allowed to pass. Won't really same more to this, as it would give away a huge plot-point.
"John Blake" turned out to have a very surprising and weighted role of all, which helps pushes the lore to the future, IMHO. His role alongside Bruce Wayne/Batman is seen to be developed further but for folks who had read the comicbooks, and the ending revelations and gambit, was indeed quite delicious. But for folks who might not be familiar with the comicbook adventure and history, this might be a bit harder to grasp, IMHO.
I really like the scenes where Bruce and John "interact". The parallel to the comicbook concept is thrilling, indeed. This is when you see Bruce "transcending" his role. and when John chucks aside his firearm? You KNOW the die is cast for the "future", IMHO!
His "middle name" was a swell 'nod' to the geeks as well, and further identifies his 'role' (and of course this was "spoilt" by a review I read in the nation's newspaper = ARGH). Would Joseph Gordon-Levitt have a "future" in this role and legend, if so the powers might be decided to go on with the Batman movies? The more I say, the more will be revealed, I reckon :p
Nothing need more be said about the acting of both Morgan Freeman ("Lucius Fox") and Michael Caine ("Alfred Pennyworth") - who somewhat had their chance to shine amidst the constant cascade of actors and throwaway roles.
Gary Oldman as "Commissioner Gordon". His sense of guilt (only if you had watched 'The Dark Knight' would you understand his predicament) weighs heavy on his back, and it shows n his performance. The renewed gravitas of his appearance is appreciated, although his heavy handed action sequences somehow seemed senseless given the array of actioneers this movie possessed, IMHO.
Christian Bale shone in his role as "Bruce Wayne", moreso than Batman, in TDKR. The allure of the caped crusader has but since run it's course in Begins and TDK, and in TDKR, the attention is paid instead to his "toys" (like "The Bat" and his EMP-gun etc). Bale has always been an intense actor, and had suited the role of the brooding Wayne thus far, and the years of battle is shown on Bruce's face and mannerisms, and it is a well of depth nicely mined in TDKR. What haunts him now is no longer the death of his parents ... nice ... But still his gravely throat-cancer-like-stricken voice bugged me to bits hahahaha
IMPRESSIONS OF THE MAKING OF TDKR:
TDKR is all about flashbacks. There are numerous to be had, some obligatory as expediting the story, while others served as plot-condensers to summarize said dense-plot. The "twists" were nice touches to the storyline - ludicrous given the bigger scene of things - but somewhat fitting for the genre of where the Batman sits, although more "comicbook" than the previous incarnation of the late Heath Ledger's JOKER.
Director and co-writer Christopher Nolan is not about "gorgeous" visuals ala color-grading, or elaborate art direction and lush environments. His sense of story-telling comes first, followed by a sensibility of "reality" portrayed on film, in a scale made larger than life by the sheer number of bodies, unlike huge establishing shots "for the sake of", with instead the spectacle of something feeling "real", grabbing at your attention.
In fact, there is a huge amount of close-ups, especially in fight-scenes - tho invigorating and visceral, seemed somewhat dulled by the lack of seeing them trade punches above the waist! Fine there were full-scaled shots as well, but the quick flashes of "Michael-Bayness" was not enjoyable at all LOL - Hey, I heart me my MB-moments, but this does not seem like the movie for it, no?
What I do enjoy were that most establishing-shots showcase the loneliness of prevailing characters in the scenes, IMHO. Nice visual touch, if this be the intent tho.
A lot has been mentioned about the IMAX shots, which I viewed the movie in "Digital" format, saw nothing to amaze me by, unfortunately. So there is nothing I dare not about the supposed "grandeur" of the scenes.
What struck me the most, was also Hans Zimmer's score, and I have attention to that, because (A) I have read about it, and (B) I had recently posted multiple music videos for Prince's songs for TIm Burton's Batman (on my Facebook, ironically in dedication to the premiere of TDKRT lol). What a huge difference the soundtrack makes!
IN THE END:
I am of two minds when it comes to the "ending" of TDKR - the gosh-golly-good feel of one half of the ending had me with goosepimples, with cliched steps leading to it, while the other part had left me with a smile - the sole smile I had from watching the movie - of what feels like a prelude of things to come, and a future worth looking out for.
"Eight years" is a huge time difference. As much as seven years was, when Bruce disappeared off the face of modern civilization (and before he returned to Gotham as The Batman / a concept to be mined in movies and fan-films, no doubt), and while Nolan's take on Batman has ended with TDKR, let's hope we don't have to wait as long to see the next incarnation of the Dark Knight, although no doubt comparisons to Nolan's version will be the gauge for many more years to come.
[All images via The Dark Knight Rises Facebook]