Rick Pipito Reviews: The Dark Knight Rises
It has taken me a few hours, but now I can breathe and tell you what I thought about The Dark Knight Rises. My rating right off the “bat” (pun intended) is a 9 out of 10. There were a couple problems I had, but I got over them quickly, and I’ll explain below. I am going to go in depth about quite a few of the MAJOR SPOILERS, to perhaps open a discussion. If you’d like a review without spoilers, check out my brother’s review. Again, I will have to warn you that there will be Spoilers after this paragraph.
“And here we go,”… again. Christopher Nolan has given us an epic work of art. This whole trilogy as individual installments was outstanding, but as a whole, they are EPIC! That being said, he has stayed true (for the most part) to the fans of the Batman universe and for one final time, he has pulled no punches. I noticed three things that stood out to me. Elements of this story were taken from four major plots from the 1990s and early 2000s. (Knightfall, Tim Drake, No Man’s Land, and the Talia/Bane relationship.)
It has been 8 years since the death of Harvey Dent, and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Batman is no longer needed by the city, and Wayne is basically considered Howard Hughes at this point. Here was my first issue with this point. Could Batman really stay out of it for that long? It seemed like too long of a gap for me. Batman became obsessed in the comics with protecting Gotham. So why can I ignore this? Because he didn’t need to be the bat anymore. The Harvey Dent act made organized crime extinct.
From the explosive opening on the plane, Tom Hardy really shows how menacing Bane is. Okay, so my second problem with the movie was that there was nothing called “Venom” running through tubes to beef up Bane into a monstrosity. Then I saw the movie, and accepted the changes greatfully. Though I would have loved to see that, I think the choice to alter his story slightly was a wise one. His background of being born and raised in prison was kept true to the comics, with the added part of him needing the mask. The mask could have been talked about more, but it was highlighted to the point of knowing that it kept him from feeling any pain.
Still not convinced? Okay, let me put it this way. Say you get into a fight with someone who is visibly a lot stronger than you. There have been plenty of times when the smaller person wins because of speed and size. A smaller person can maneuver around someone and manage to land more hits to take down his/her larger opponent. Now, take the same situation, but substitute someone that can experience no pain for the muscle bound one. Now its a whole different battle. How the hell do you take down someone who you can’t even hurt?
The Camera angles and vicious fight sequences between Bane and Batman made Tom Hardy really look monstrous anyway, so there was no need for the steroid compound. He even punched a chunk of concrete off of a pillar at one point. Oh, and as a fan, I will admit, I had a tear in my eye when he lifted Batman over his head and literally Broke The Bat! It was the exact same scene from the comics, and replayed nicely. I couldn’t believe it.
Christian Bale also did an amazing job as usual. I still want to giggle a little when I hear his Batman Bark, but overall, his performance was great. Bruce Wayne had nothing left to live for, and the emotional scene between him and Alfred, where he tells Alfred “goodbye,” had half the people in the theater choked up. The battle Batman deals with in this movie isn’t just Bane either. He is dealing with his own self managment. He has shut himself out from the world, and has to realize at his deepest darkest hour, what he needed to do. Bane made the Joker look like a joke. He was a terrorist mastermind that even fooled the world’s greatest detective.
Speaking of detectives, John Blake was an unexpected surprise. Joseph Gordon Levitt was probably the highlight of the movie for me. I knew something was up, and from the second he told the background story of his parents and the foster care by Bruce Wayne’s donations, I turned to my wife and said, “Holy $#!+. That’s Robin.” Yes, his name may have been changed, but he literally was Tim Drake from the comics. My suspicions were placed in concrete when Bruce told him that he needed a mask to protect his loved ones, and gave him the coordinates to the batcave. And yes, his first name was revealed to be Robin.
So Batman had a sidekick, and so did catwoman… well, sort of. To my knowledge, they never said what Selina Kyle’s roommate/thief friend’s name was, but she most definitely was Holly Robinson from the comics. A short and fun role that was worked in well. But the highlight here isn’t the sidekick, it’s the main act. Anne Hathaway was the best Selina Kyle/Catwoman I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent, but I feel that Anne really made the performance top. The head piece and hair could have been done differently for the cat look, and I missed the nails and whip, but she kicked major ass. Both the good guys and the bad guys, really weren’t ready for the beating that she could dish out.
So other than the three main performances, what else can be said? Well, all of the supporting characters (Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth) were a pleasure to watch. Speaking of pleasure, there was also Marion Cottilard as Miranda Tate. I figured it out, from the second that Ra’s Al Ghul was mentioned and Wayne and Tate slept together, that this wasn’t who it appeared to be. I knew she was Talia Al Ghul, but wasn’t expecting the twist (quite literally) that happened when she revealed her true colors. I only wish that if the series were to go on from here, that Talia would have survived with child of Bruce Wayne. Afterall, Damien Wayne (their child) is now the current Robin in the comics, so it would have been something extra, but not needed.
Liam Neeson is another one. He showed up in a brief cameo as Ra’s Al Ghul. I loved how he explained that he was immortal in more ways than one, and that it was just left that way. On the same note, Cillian Murphy reprised his role as Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow. This time he was judge at blackgate prison. I only have this to say… I think that if Heath Ledger was still alive, this role would have been given to him as the Joker. It would have made more sense to have the joker carrying out these sentences in the way they were portrayed, and had Murphy do something else to complete it, but still, it brought a smile to my face, regardless of who was sitting on the judge’s chair.
One final role that I wasn’t expecting was Roland Daggett. In the animated series from the nineties, I recall the one episode with Daggett. How do I remember this? Because in that episode, he was the man directly responsible for the creation of Clayface. He didn’t have a large role and there was no clayface, but it showed that he could be brought in at some point. Another quick throw out was when the police laughed at Gordon’s claim that there was an army of mercenaries in the sewers. Someone said something along the lines of “Sure, and I guess you want me to believe there is a giant alligator down there too.” This was an obvious reference to Killer Croc.
Look, for those of you who might have a problem with the ending, tell me why… I mean, it is obvious that Batman is not dead. He was seen in Florence with Selena Kyle, Gordon had a repaired batlight, and he had a new protege (adopted son) to keep an eye on. It wasn’t Batman that died, it was Bruce Wayne. Don’t you see? This was a potential setup by Chris Nolan so that someone can take these loose ends and run with them. This trilogy was all about Batman beginning. Now he is established. Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to be anymore. Batman is the key. He always was. It was that way in the comics as well. Who knows, maybe a little Helena Kyle (Huntress) could be on their way as well somewhere down the line.
From the number of days it took Wayne to heal his back to the severing of Bane’s tubes, this movie may have altered a few things, but stayed true all around. My brother mentioned the vehicles in his review. I disagree with his view. The Tumbler and Batpod were damn cool, and though I wasn’t too happy about the Bat, it definitely gave me a temporary satisfaction for the batwing.
My final thoughts are this. Please PLEASE PLEASE… whoever is in charge at Warner Brothers/DC, do NOT start this franchise over! Everyone wants to see what happens next. You now have a Justice League movie in the works. This is your first step. Batman exists in a universe. Use that universe. Perhaps Wayne will come off of his sabatical/fake death once the world needs heroes. You can recast him if you need to, but keep Nolan’s universe alive. I will be sad to hear if this truly is the end of such an epic era of Batman.
The Dark Knight has risen to the challenge of what The Avengers has brought to the table. DC has hit as hard as Marvel, now let’s watch each side continue to bring us the most entertaining films of all time! Please, if you have any comments, make them. I’d love to get a discussion going on everyone’s thoughts.