Wednesday, 25 July 2012
The Dark Knight Rises Review: Did The Dark Knight Rise? - That Blog Thing - Movie Reviews, Film Reviews, Film Entertainment, Entertainment, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Superheroes, Comic Books, Film, TV Reviews, Television, TV, Television Reviews
“The best way to end a story is to go right back to the beginning, and learn something new about everything you’ve been through for the first time.”
One of my favorite writers said this, and I have never forgotten it. Some of the greatest stories ever told have followed this path and they are revered for it. I’m thinking of films like “Return of the Jedi”, or “Back to the Future: Part 3”, each of them added a new dimension to the characters by literally or figuratively going deeper into the past of each of the characters, showing what made them who they really are in what proved to be their finest hour. Much like those that came before, in the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga, “The Dark Knight Rises” brings another dimension to the characters that make them better and more interesting. In that way, the film is fantastic.
Dealing with the past is a recurring theme in the film. One character is trying to return to it, another is trying to escape it, while another is intent on avenging it. But much like many of the characters in it, the film seems somewhat stuck within it. Several characters who we are only meeting for the first time in this film have detailed and important back stories that, while well handled and well told within the film itself, deserved better treatment. One of the major assets of the previous films was its ability to foreshadow in a thoughtful way, the Joker card at the end of the first film, a reference to “protecting against cats” in the second, and yes some references from the first two films do pay off in the third quite well. But where before they seem somewhat like they were contained within what fans refer to as the “Nolanverse”, in the final chapter they seem more like pandering to the fans than anything else.
Christopher Nolan likes to play it close to the chest when it comes to the stories he likes to tell. Reports are that actors initially couldn’t take copies of The Dark Knight Rises scripts home. They had to read it in a locked room and leave the script when they finished. As a writer, I totally understand why someone would want to do that. But given that, and the fact that repeated interviews during this saga’s creation have him denying his intentions to do certain things, retrospectively, as great as everything was done, it feels like he insisted on such secrecy just so fans can go “oooh” and praise his name for giving them what they want. That seems somewhat self indulgent to me.
Don’t get me wrong, as a big Batman fan this entire trilogy was the Batman I had always wanted to see, the dark and gritty hero that the modern day version has been since the 1980s. The characters are written and portrayed as if they leapt straight off the pages of the comic books they were born from. I feel extremely vindicated as a comic book fan to know that Christopher Nolan treated these characters with the respect they have deserved for years. But ultimately, I think that The Dark Knight Rises is the “Revenge of the Sith” of Batman movies. Where what was established in the two previous films became a checklist of things to do in the third. There even seems to be a line in the film that all but points that out.
The film has certainly beaten the “third film in a trilogy” curse that seems to be a staple of trilogies in the past several years. It managed to stay visually and tonally consistent to what came before it and the recurring characters are emotionally consistent with the other films, but ultimately I think it threw a curveball where I think a fastball would have worked better.
Did the dark knight rise? Yes, but I think it could’ve risen higher.