Well f*** me.
I’ve been looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises since thirty seconds into the closing credits of The Dark Knight, so excuse me, but now that it’s over I’m a little disoriented. Let’s run over it all again… A masked mercenary. A reclusive billionaire. A black cat. A mythos that stretches across three epics with six villains, each as unique and blood-freezingly-threatening as the last… I’m pretty sure I liked it, but it all happened so fast…
The Dark Knight Rises is not a perfect gift from heaven like its predecessor. The movie has some pacing problems, and although the plot is largely airtight thanks to the mathematical precision brought to the project by Director Christopher Nolan, it’s often hard to follow, especially if one hasn’t seen the prequels. It doesn’t help that TDKR’s much hyped backbreaking badass Bane is often difficult to hear through his mask. We heard about this back in winter when the TDKR prologue ran before Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Then we were assured by studio and critics alike that Bane’s dialogue had been cleared up, but I find it hard to believe that I was the only one in the theater missing a quarter of the Batbreaker’s dialogue. Bane himself is about what we were promised in the trailer, hulking and chillingly clincial. He feels threatening from his first line of (discernible) dialogue. He’s no Joker to be sure, but he’s a lot more interesting than say, Loki. (AVENGERS COMPARISON REQUIREMENT MET.)
TDKR feels more like Inception than its direct prequel, and not just because half of the cast makes an appearance. The third installment in the Nolan trilogy raises the stakes far beyond what the previous films dared to bring to the table. The Joker blew up a few buildings and Ra’s Al Gul caused a gas leak or something. Bane threatens to nuke Gotham city into oblivion after snapping the Batman over his knee like he was an intermediate P90X maneuver. Nolan brought more than Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon Levitt from Inception to his latest film. He brought armageddon and madness to hang over Gotham like specters.
I’m going to talk about non-Bane villains now, so shpoilers.
Talia Al Gul.
The marketing bait and switch employed by Nolan here was brilliant. We were given a familiar thief, Selina Kyle, and allowed to assume that, like Two-Face and Scarecrow before her, she would become who we all know she ought to be, Catwoman. Instead, Kyle remains an anti-hero throughout the film, ranging from sympathetic to heroic. The word “catwoman” is never once uttered, and we’re instead treated to a dramatic third act twist. Bruce Wayne’s supposed love interest Miranda Tate reveals herself to be Talia Al Gul, heiress to the League of Shadows.
For a fan of comics, this is really exciting, satisfying storytelling. For more casual moviegoers, this might seem forced, but it really does bring the Nolanverse trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. The lateness of the revelation is forgivable, especially considering the fact that (again, like Inception) The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t so much merit multiple viewings as it does demand them.
The newcomers are the real stars of this movie. The Inception veterans all pull their weight heroically, but the one who truly shines in Anne Hathaway as a razor sharp Selina Kyle. Despite her lack of cowl, Hathaway may have given the role its most true-to-the-character interpretation that it has ever received in live action.
Not since The Joker has the series had such a promising candidate for a spinoff film. Just imagine, a Catwoman solo film…
Right. Never mind.