Is it okay to do a review now? I have been reluctant to write about this movie, in the wake of he real life tragedy. I know others have felt perfectly comfortable discussing a silly little film in light of all the things that have happened surrounding it in real life. I saw the film at midnight when it came out like many others. In the morning when I woke to write down my thoughts I turned on the computer to see the horror wrought off the screen. I know some saw it as a distraction from a discussion about how awful they felt the film was. To those people I say-SHUT UP! The Dark Knight Rises was in my opinion the perfect end to a style and era of superhero films that is over and done with. The dark brooding, misunderstood hero that Christopher Nolan presented in Batman Begins is dead. It was grossly inaccurate when compared to the comic book, it was at times needlessly existential, but existential in a high school, dime store kind of way. There were plot holes galore and a villain who’s motives were vague and confusing at best. But you can see where all that will be filled in with DVD extras. The new style of Superhero movie ushered in by Marvel and exemplified with Joss Whedon’s Avengers will be the norm from here on out (sorry Man of Steele). DC will have to play catch up on their superhero franchises from here on out.
I know that seems like a cop out, but it’s to be expected. They may charge you an arm and a leg at the theatre but they really just want to sell you the DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack with digital download. That’s beside the point. To truly enjoy TDKR you have to let all that go, you have to forget all that you know (if any) about the comic book, you have to pretend that the only Batman is the one in the film you are watching and then you might be okay. As a stand alone film it was an amazing piece of cinema. It wasn’t the action packed bang-em up superhero jam that Avengers was, but that’s another story. It was a movie that played like a symphony. It builds and builds to a crashing crescendo. The unintelligible chant that rings through the preview plays through-out the entire movie. It’s the center piece of a long dark film. It compliments the biggest and un-credited star of the film which is Gotham itself. Nolan has since the first film focused on Gotham as the reason behind everything. It is his critique on modern society, it is his love letter to New York, it is the reason Batman exist, and all of his enemies as well.
Gotham is fleshed out to the fullest in this film, showing for the first time one of its sports teams, and it’s sewer system and destroying them both. The loving look at the city that Batman takes perched on church spire is meant to show what this film is all about. A man in love with a city that both made and destroyed him. As Bruce Wayne he is tied to Gotham through tragedy. As Batman he is tied to it through salvation. Forget the pithy platitudes of a surprisingly Sean Connery sounding Baine, forget the we are the 99% nonsense of arguably the worst Catwoman since Halle Berry! Those are just distractions to the real story, the real love triangle between Batman, Bruce, and Gotham. The best line that Catwoman spits out in the entire film was when she said “You’ve given them everything, you don’t owe them anything” and in that ridiculous Clint Eastwood voice that Bale adapts when he dons the cowl, he says, “Not everything”. This is the crux of it. He feels he owes this city his life, and he’s right.
Sure the Republican’ts will shake their heads and cry foul, blame the President and show how much they truly do not love this country. Sure amateur film critics online will whine that the movie didn’t have enough action or whatever else they find to nit pick about. Yet at the heart the film is about a man who wants to give everything back to the city that made him. Paying your share, being apart of a community, and all the things that the current political debate are centering on. Nolan is not trying to hide his political leanings in any way. From the loosely thrown in Nuclear debate, brief energy policy discussion, his thoughts on adoption, and city hall corruption. There is so many ideas thrown in it can get confusing and when so many of them don’t stick around and simply languish after a few scenes you’re left with more questions than answers. Yet I don’t think Nolan intended for you to have answers.
He shouldn’t, and you shouldn’t want them. We do not need to be fed the solution for society’s ills from a movie about a rich guy in a rubber suit chasing mentally unstable people in equally ridiculous costumes. Nolan was tossing out his ideas and opinions, not his solutions, most likely he (like the rest of us) has no answers. In the end Bruce Wayne sacrifices Batman and himself so that he can live in luxury overseas. A new orphan takes up the mantle of the Bat, and Gotham erects a statue to its favorite son. TDKR is not the perfect movie, it is not even the perfect Christopher Nolan Batman. It had an uphill battle from the start, having to follow the perfect Batman Movie and a once in a lifetime performance by Heath Ledger. There are plenty of things to focus on and pick apart, but in the end I left with the feeling that a chapter was closed, and a story was told. I feel once we can sit down with the entire trilogy on disc in the comfort of our own homes and watch each episode back to back the entirety of the picture will be much clearer.