So you may have noticed that I haven’t posted a review of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ yet. I was greatly looking forward to it and saw it the day it came out. The truth is I did start writing a review of it soon after, but this is what I came up with:
Almost a decade ago, Warner Bros. announced that they would sensibly opt to reboot the Batman franchise following the infamous ‘Batman & Robin’ debacle, and they hired Christopher Nolan to direct it. At this point Nolan had made only three feature films, intriguing low budget black and white debut ‘Following’, intense crime thriller ‘Insomnia’, and between them the masterful ‘Memento’, still in my opinion a strong contender for best film of the 2000s. This was the first sign that a more serious approach was to be adopted. More signs that the finished product would be something special appeared as the production built up an increasingly impressive cast list.
When ‘Batman Begins’ came out in 2005 I can’t recall exactly what my expectations were but I remember finding it, while very good, not what I felt I had wanted. It was only after a few repeat viewings that I could really see its quality.
Nolan hadn’t given us the superhero film we wanted, he had given us the superhero film we didn’t know we wanted.
At the time, the then recent ‘X2’ and ‘Spider-Man 2’ were considered the high watermarks in superhero adaptations, until ‘Batman Begins’ took such films to a level unseen. The decision to ground Batman in the real world as much as possible proved an excellent one. He’s possibly the only well-known superhero for whom such an approach could work. And work it did. A large amount of time was dedicated to character development and backstory, with Batman not appearing until almost halfway through the film. It also did not go the easy route and include any of Batman’s iconic, famed villains, choosing instead ones fairly unknown to the general public. Just as much of a crime epic as a superhero story.
It ended with a wonderful teaser of things to come, but it could have been just that. Had it been unsuccessful the reigns would surely have been handed to another director, and Nolan had not signed on to make multiple films, indeed his follow up was the unrelated ‘The Prestige’ (also highly recommended).
It would have been such a shame though, ‘Batman Begins’ was, as its title suggests, a beginning, and as good as it may be, just a beginning cannot be wholly satisfactory. It demanded more to be seen.
This promise was well and truly delivered upon 3 years later with the release on ‘The Dark Knight’, which arrived amidst a storm of hype which it somehow managed to meet, skyrocketing the bar for superhero films.
Again though, ‘The Dark Knight’ ended without resolution, it left audiences wanting more following its conclusion. This was the middle chapter, and we needed an ending. Nolan was apparently hesitant to sign on for a final instalment too, not doing so until after completing the astonishing ‘Inception’ in 2010.
But now, at last, we have that conclusion, in the form of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.
Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham city is virtually free of organised crime, the Batman hasn’t been seen since then, and Bruce Wayne has become a shut-in…
As you can see, this is all just a load of unnecessary waffle about the production history of the trilogy.
I will say that I hugely enjoyed the film, and found it to be a spectacular conclusion to the trilogy. However I did read a large number of reviews and found myself feeling that I had little to add to the discussion.
Nearly all the flaws people have pointed out seem to be concerned with the plot. While one has to acknowledge these, they’re the kind of problems that only become apparent in discussions afterward, the film itself it strong enough to overcome these during viewing. I also loved Bane’s bizarre voice and had no trouble understanding it, and was close to welling up at the end.
I even went back to see it for a second time in the cinema, something a hardly ever do, and have to say that I enjoyed it even more the second time, without the weight of expectation. It’s probably my favourite film I’ve seen this year so far, and certainly the best one I saw in the cinema.