Four years after The Dark Knight struck critical gold, Christopher Nolan returned to complete his trilogy. The rumors swarmed like, well, like bats around this one. I remember hearing word that The Riddler would be appearing and that Neil Patrick Harris was being considered (though that was just a rumor). There was even talk that Two-Face might return (even though Nolan kept insisting that he was dead and that his death was necessary for the story). The media was going nuts. The anticipation for this one was pretty massive, and while it kept pace with its predecessor at the box office, fan reaction was mixed.
Critics praised the pacing and the acting, especially of that of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway who’s Bane and Selina Kyle are immensely entertaining. Hathaway’s take on Catwoman (though she’s never called that) is thoroughly modern and multilayered and speaks right to contemporary audiences. And Tom Hardy’s Bane, though dastardly, is charismatic and compelling. Plus, he gets most of the film’s best lines.
Unlike The Dark Knight which just baaaarely managed to keep all its plates spinning, this one overextends itself a bit. It doesn’t use quite so many plates, but they’re big plates, big enough that audiences begin to doubt whether they’re really keeping their balance on their own.
The upside is that this one feels more like a superhero film than TDK. It’s huge and grand and these sorts of perils are really ONLY suited to a costumed eccentric. James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Ethan Hunt could have outsmarted the Joker, but only Batman could reclaim the city from a hulking masked brute with a nuclear ace up his sleeve.
The Talia Al Ghul subplot is sort of shoehorned in and doesn’t really need to be there (especially since Bruce and Selina have way more chemistry than Bruce and Miranda Tate, Talia’s alter ego). It follows Scream’s rules for a trilogy in that the story has to cycle back to an element from the first film, but it feels really tacked on.
And I find it SUPER hard to believe that the rest of America’s armed forces would have just left Gotham to its fate for so many months without sending in SOMETHING. And I find it super unrealistic that Jim Gordon would send every single police officer in the city to confront Bane like some sort of guerrilla army.
But all that aside, it’s still a fun movie. Batman feels interesting again as opposed to a side character. He spends a great deal of time out of Gotham, holed up in a nightmarish prison, but the story actually gives him a personal storyline that makes you care about the character.I like how a lot of the events of TDK boil to the surface after Bruce spent eight years trying to escape from them. It gives that film a lot more retroactive emotional stability.
and it also has one of the most satisfying conclusions of any superhero film, a moment where everything clicks into place with such pleasant symmetry and neatness that you find yourself wondering if that last shot of Bruce is real or imagined. Plus, the passing of the torch (even if it ignores everything from the comics) at the end is nicely handled and leaves you wondering if Nolan will ever saunter back to Gotham to give us a Nightwing or perhaps Batman Beyond film with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character donning one of the next generation costumes. I don’t think that will happen, but I can dream, can’t I?
My next logical film to look at wold be Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but since that ties into a greater cinematic universe, I think I’m going to leap back to the 70’s and start another series focusing on Superman’s cinematic appearances. Then, the two can converge with BvS. So, we’ll see Batman again! Fret not!
Next week, we’re going to do a bit of time traveling. Ciao!