Very few times in a person's life do they enjoy the experience of a film actually living up to their expectations. Even fewer times do those films which we've put on a pedestal high in the clouds prior to release seem to shoot straight out of the stratosphere upon viewing for the first time (porns don't count in this statement obviously). But such is the case for The Dark Knight Rises.
Now, if you're new to Tevice.com, let me put the disclaimer right here in the beginning: there will be no spoilers in this review, although I'd be pretty surprised if you're reading this and haven't seen the movie yet.
By this point, nearly everyone has pointed out that this movie is incredible. What's sorely lacking from the discussion in my mind are the particulars that make it so awesome. So, let me break out what I feel to be the top three jaw-droppingly amazing things about The Dark Knight Rises (besides Hathoway in leather - whom I intend to write a very NSFW review of on my bedroom wall later tonight - that was weird, I apologize).
1) The Plot
Here's the thing about director Christopher Nolan: his last three or four films have consistently topped each other. And, while that fact ensures that he belongs in Hollywood, what makes him the visionary many believe him to be is that particular phrase one repeats after seeing any recent Nolan film, "There's no way he can top that." But Nolan hasn't recently disappointed in this regard.
And The Dark Knight Rises is not excluded from this trend. Without revealing anything, the plot of The Dark Knight Rises is so emotionally resonant that, at times, the viewer forgets they're watching a movie about a man in a cape. Each character is so wonderfully written and directed that the audience can't help but relate to at least one of them. And, in what I think to be a new turn for Nolan's Batman franchise, this applies to the villains in The Dark Knight Rises as well as the heroes.
The plot is endlessly surprising and unexpected, but still completely believable. It begins slow and somber, but once this script kicks into its second act, it's a non-stop race to the finish that is more relevant and well-crafted then anything we've seen so far this year and perhaps in any conclusion to a trilogy in the history of popular cinema.
2) Bane and Bale
But, no good superhero film exists, regardless of its emotional resonance, without the collision between hero and villain. How did these two fare? Well, let's start with Bane.
Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight is no doubt the best acted villain in Nolan's entire franchise. That being said, Bane is the best written villain in Nolan's franchise. While actor Tom Hardy had little to do in order to pull this character off, he was still a wise choice for the part. His delivery, while sometimes vocally indecipherable, dripped with endless anguish, cunning, and rage. Hardy pulls off Bane so well, in fact, that near the end even the hardest of hearts feels a small measure of sympathy for the world destroyer that is Bane.
Apart from Hardy's performance, if there's one thing you want in a conclusion to a trilogy like this, it's a villain that is an honest challenge for the hero. Bane does not disappoint in this regard. He's stronger, smarter, funnier, and generally more likable then his masked counterpart - well, except for the whole indiscriminate killing thing.
And then there's the dark knight himself. I'l be honest here, lovely readers. I've said since Batman Begins that Christian Bale is my favorite Batman, but Michael Keaton is my favorite Bruce Wayne. Well, all that changed after seeing this film. For those of you who haven't gotten around to getting to the theater, know in advance that this movie features a lot more Bruce Wayne then you're used to. I know, you're thinking, "Well I guess I'll stay home and make ear wax puppets now." But, don't be disheartened my disgusting brethren - Bruce Wayne is the shizknuckle in this film.
Bale pulls off true vulnerability like I've never seen him do it before, which makes the audience understand the level of his character's power in a way we've never comprehended it until this point. He becomes a man who would choose to be Batman, not some campy depiction of a billionaire. Bale is the Bruce Wayne that risks his life for people he's never met, not the man who juggles leading women like they're tennis balls. In short, in The Dark Knight Rises, Christian Bale became the ultimate Batman for me and he achieved this by finally understanding Bruce Wayne, something no other would-be Bruce Wayne has done before.
3) The Ending
It is really hard to discuss the ending of this film without giving ridiculously awesome stuff away, but I'm going to try. Guys, I'm a writer who has written a few full length screenplays and is an absolute lover of cinematic structure. So, I'm going to discuss the conclusion to this film in those terms so as not to spoil any of the incredible plot turns the conclusion to the film implements.
Does the ending to this film and the series on a whole break any huge rules of film-making? No. Does it play by the rules so well that you'd think every single superhero film ever made has culminated in the release of this one movie? Yes. The last act of The Dark Knight Rises surprises, thrills, and concludes with the single most satisfying cinematic conclusion this reviewer's ever had the good fortune to view.
It's pointless to even rate it at this point, you all know which way I'm going.
I give The Dark Knight Rises five arthritic thumbs out of five. If there were more, it would get more. You must see this film.