[gushing] The Dark Knight Rises is the best possible ending to Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy. [/gushing] Not that it is impossible to imagine a different ending, mind you. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is such an icon of martyrdom that any connection to a Batman whose stock-in-trade is not soul-crushing suffering is peripheral, at best. Suffering which for the record is not wholly unlike the torment you’re going to incur when you get stuck sitting next to your drunk comic-book-snob-friend at the midnight opening night screening.
Batman Begins is a fantastic origin story, and pushes all the right buttons for a super-hero origin. It’s not until The Dark Knight when Nolan’s Batman takes a truly dark turn. Truly dark like “Batman must die for your sins” dark. The Dark Knight Rises continues this trend of over-drama, and most certainly raises the threshold of disbelief, but make no mistake; Bale, as Bruce Wayne, endures punishment much harsher than his trials of the first two films, and his scars from the past do little to make him any stronger.
Taking classic superhero movie tropes and dragging them, kicking and screaming, into a world that the viewer can almost believe exists just a few hour’s drive away, in Gotham, has been the hallmark of Nolan’s Batman films. The audience for this round of Batman-i-tude may have to suspend just slightly more of their disbelief on their visit to Gotham, but it’s all for the best. All the expected elements of the genre are here in full force; there are amazing chase scenes, brutal fist fights, villainy of the highest order, sinister plots, the coolest bat-gadgets that you wish you had thought of, and, lest you forget which Batman you’re watching, billionaire angst on a scale formerly unimaginable. Oh, and re: explosions, it seems likely that Michael Bay probably consulted on The Dark Knight Rises; the number of things that go boom in this third and final film of the series is unprecedented to say the least.
This Freaking Guy
But that doesn’t matter to your man that you brought with you; his righteous indignation likely knows no bounds. Does he hate Batman? Of course not; no male on the planet, in that distant space between waking and dreams, doesn’t want to be Batman. Especially nerds, and nerds are right, as is well understood. Maybe it’s that he hates movies? Hates things that are awesome? Oh seriously. Maybe he’s just obnoxious enough that before the movie even starts, someone in the back of the theater will yell at him to STFU, at which point, the rest of the theater will erupt in applause, and he’ll sheepishly agree that he probably needs to be quiet.
If you like your movies rich with plot, backstory, symbolism and societal commentary; then keep your fork, there’s pie-a-plenty in The Dark Knight Rises. Characters representing every possible moral shade of grey are pitted against one another in matters of economics, justice, love, sacrifice, and salvation, in an intricate-yet-accessible web of carefully-told plot threads reaching back through every part of Christian Bale’s Batman career. Seeing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight isn’t absolutely necessary to enjoy The Dark Knight Rises, but you’d be a fool to see the third film of the series and expect to derive the same sort of enjoyment from the experience that a battle-scarred veteran of Nolan’s emotional Bat-anguish might. And have no doubt, after sitting through the super-hero heart-stomping of the first two of the Bat-films, you can rightfully be considered a battled-scarred veteran. In a good way.
TDKR manages to poke fun at itself here and there – out of necessity; with this much intensity in character and plot, if you the viewer can’t laugh at least a little, you’ll probably be crushed under the weight of the massive obligations heaped upon Batman. But then, what good is a superhero without a crisis to avert and a world to save? Not a question the audience is ever called upon to answer in Bale’s final go-round with the cape, as direction is never an issue for the film; from start to finish, every hero and villain is on a collision course with each other; the tension is palpable throughout the film, and everything that is promised is delivered in spades, with bonus icing and sprinkles.
Your man, however, will hate the movie and probably say that it is the worst thing he has ever seen. Maybe just because of comic book rage? The perception that this retelling of a beloved American mythos is innately inferior to the last x number of times this story has been told (where x approaches infinity)? The idea that the source material is sacred canon and that the director and his entire crew have squandered the hundred of millions of monies that make up the budget, and instead of telling an awesome story about Batman, they have chosen to piss directly in your Cheerios, failing to appropriately appease you, the fan, who is the ultimate arbiter of what is the good and the bad of Batman, not because the perception of said quality might be subjective, but rather because you are right? Maybe your man had just gotten drunk before he showed up, who knows? However it is highly recommend that you not stick around for the post-movie discourse; chances are that the aforementioned consumer of the bat-haterade doesn’t have to get up the next morning after the movie is over at 3am, and then write a movie review before going to work.
Go see The Dark Knight Rises, it’s a really good film. But see it with people who might not have quite such a high level of emotional investment in the source material, or whatever.