Christopher Nolan completes his Batman Trilogy superbly, however with a surprisingly (yet welcomed) Spielberg-ish ending. (Mild spoilers throughout).
Nolanfans.com reported on an interview by the Mike and Josh Movie Show that featured Academy Award winning cinematographer Wally Pfister. Mr. Pfister has photographed all of Christopher Nolan’s since 2000’s Memento, and in this interview Pfister said that after reading the script for The Dark Knight Rises he realized that a perfect trilogy would be completed on July 20th 2012. Although I have a few minor complaints, The Dark Knight Rises is a near perfect flowing collage of in-camera effects, appropriate/minimal CGI, stellar acting, and screenwriting.
87% of the nations professional critics have given TDKR, favorable to highly favorable reviews. The remaining 13% have predominantly complained that the villain is not as memorable as TDK’s Joker and that the movie lacked humor.
- My retort to the former: Batman Begins ended with Commissioner Gordon warning the Caped Crusader about escalation. With the appearance of The Joker, Gotham is now faced with a threat that is greater than the organized crime that was already deteriorating the city. The Joker was an incredible combination of humor and sinister acts, and was an example of how having a symbol of (hope), could attract to equally opposing forces. Heath Ledger’s Joker with all the tics, walk, talk, and overall creepiness does overshadow Tom Hardy’s physically menacing Bane. Yet Bane was everything that Nolan said he would be: A classic movie monster. Instead of having humorous dialogue (save Bane’s complimenting of a young boy’s singing) the villain in TDKR has had the same training as Batman and emerged from an even more tormented background. I especially appreciated the first encounter between good and evil, where Bane shows his near-immunity to Batman’s pyrotechnics and even his nocturnal attacks. If it were not for the breathing apparatus gravely restricting the audience from seeing Tom Hardy’s facial expressions, I may have been bold enough to say his performance was on the same level as the late-great Heath Ledger.
- My retort to the latter: Really????? Okay, seriously a film that is apocalyptic in its exposition does not have time to (in the words of one of the editors of Nolanfans.com) have the comedy meter set to the max. The Avengers had wise guys such as Tony Stark and Agent Carlson in the mix so one-liners were expected. I would call the non-serious dialogue of TDKR more witty than comical. With a cat-burglar on a quest to get her criminal record expunged, a deteriorating relationship between a loving father figure and the person he loves as a son, and an intelligent/monstrous madman on the loose with a nuclear weapon, there is little time for laughter.
Nolan has stated in various interviews (most effectively in the documentary These Amazing Shadows), that he is not so much a fan of science fiction as he is a fan of movies that takes the viewer to another world. Most of scenes in TDKR features wonder and discovery in every fame. Just as Batman Begins reminds the viewer of Sir Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, TDKR’s technical marvels and set pieces are in the same tradition of the aforementioned film, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Metropolis. The latter film was during the silent era and just like D.W Griffith’s silent films featured thousands of extras to fill a set. The scene where Batman and Selina Kyle escape off of a skyscraper’s roof on a helicopter/plane hybrid is subtle and more peaceful than action-packed. Yet is far more impressive than a CGI Transformer toppling downtown Chicago. The special effects team and set design lead by Chris Corbould and **** respectively have set a new benchmark in visual splendor. All of the scenes in the trailers that hyped the film are topped or at least matched by other scenes throughout the film. The Blu-ray of this film will have the expected making-of shorts that will show the planning and staging of a film with a budget of $250 million.
3D would have hampered the viewing experience of this film and the IMAX scenes are a testament to bringing film stock back as the ruling format for shooting movies. I saw TDKR in digital IMAX and TDK film IMAX, and although the film format was larger the digital format was clearer. I appreciate that Nolan placed the statement “This movie was shot and finished on film” at the end of the credits.
The ending will please most DC Comics fans and general moviegoers. Also it gives the person taking over the inevitable reboot a nice slate to start a new Batman series. Although I have concluded that the ending was well devised and effectively ends a trilogy, the closing scene was a little too neatly wrapped with a bow. It reminded me of how Steven Spielberg ends his larger scale dramas and action/adventure movies: There is no room for debating the fate of the characters and the film has that “happily ever after feeling”. The demise of Bane is no cop-out and answers renowned film critic Roger Ebert’s question (with respect to his positive review): Why doesn’t someone just shoot Bane when he is in the open? The Batman Begins and The Dark Knight alumnus all give their best performances in the series, and Detective Comics newcomers, Tom Hardy, Marion Cottilard, Anne Hathaway, and Joseph Gordon Levitt all shine. Bale’s voice is still raspy yet it does not sound like he is gargling marbles this time, and his acting shows that his Best Supporting Actor Oscar was no fluke.
Mr. Nolan, take that well deserved vacation that you said that you needed, the cinema world still needs things to be shook-up a bit.