This is a completely honest review. If you can't handle opinions but only want to find people agreeing with your own point of view, then I suggest you to not read. This is not a review for either the hardcore Nolan fanboys who thought this was the best movie ever before it was released or the ranting haters who thinks anyone who loves it are stupid. I am going to do a fair review where I talk about the good and bad aspects and try to be as respectful and fair as I can be.REVIEW (there will be spoilers - you have been warned)
I am actually not entirely sure how to judge this movie. As I watched it, some parts where really damn good - but some other parts where just SO bad. I have never seen a movie looping it's quality this much ever before. And I was first planning on doing a review with a non-spoiler section and a spoiler section, but... fact is, I really feel like I have to talk about all aspects I reacted to, without splitting it up.
I thought it was nice this movie kept the tradition of the last two movies, and made the opening with some sort of variation of the batsignal appearing from something. In the first one, it was a lot of bats flying and shaping it. In the second one, it was blue explosive fire leaving a gap. In this third one, it was glass cracking up (basically as you can see on the poster above, which admittedly is a really awesome poster IMO).
And Bane is a fairly good character in this movie. Granted, I'm bothered by the fact that he doesn't use his venom to gain more strength, and instead has this mask to... support his breathing, I assume? And I thought he was going to look weak in comparison to a bigger person. But they seem to have used the right angles and such things to make him appear large, which worked out very well.
Catwoman... is pretty good. Though, I do not care much for her costume. I guess it's creative to make her goggles shape cat ears when they are up on her head, but... meh. Also, I didn't get the point of her younger friend, who's this younger girl appearing in the Batman: Year One comic (and movie adaptation). In that story, she made sense and felt like she fitted in. But in The Dark Knight Rises? I just felt like she could as well just have been replaced by Selina's cat. But yeah, Catwoman works here. Though, I really miss her whip.
One thing I felt like they really messed with too much in this movie, is Alfred. His point in this movie is to basically force us into feeling something. I can sum up what he does in this movie like this:
Alfred: "Don't be Batman again, Master Bruce." Bruce: "Sorry, Alfred. I have to." Alfred: "Sob sob, your parents, sob sob, Rachel, sob sob, I know Bane's backstory somehow since I am like these movies' unofficial oracle, sob sob. And remember when you disappeared that time for years, before you returned and became Batman? I didn't want you to come back, sob sob. I wanted you to escape and get a wife and kids, sob sob." Bruce: "I'm not listening, Alfred." Alfred: "What if I said I burned a letter where Rachel said she preferred Harvey Dent over you?" Bruce: "How dare you use Rachel against me, Alfred?!" Alfred: "Because I want you to throw me out to learn something, sob sob." Bruce: "Get out, Alfred!"
You might think I am overdoing it or something - but this is how I would literally say the abridged version of it would go. It's so contrived and weird, it feels silly. I feel sorry for Michael Caine (Alfred), since he is giving his everything into his performance as Alfred. He really feels genuinly sad when this happens. It's not his performance that I would say is my problem - it's the script.
Something I thought was really cool was the first time we got to see Batman again in this movie. I was first before that worried we wouldn't get the main theme of these movies in this third one, since all we could hear before this point of the movie was Bane's theme (the one from the trailer where you hear those weird shoutings "ess ess, hadda... hadda - ess ess, hadda... hadda" or whatever
). But then when Batman finally appears on his Batpod, you hear it... and I actually got a chill up my spine. Yeah, sure - not a huge fan of the Nolan Batman movies - but I can still get into them. Especially since I'm a big Batman fan.
But then... in Batman's first appearance in this movie, he literally does jack shit. One cop says to a rookie "You're in for a show!". Aaaand what does this "show" turn out to be? Batman tries to aim with that thing he used to shoot out those gooey bombs in the last movie with (I think), a cop accidentally shoots it and ruins it, he then drives off and hides in a corner, and then flies away with the Batwing before the cops gets the chance to capture him. So, yeah... what was the point of this? "I'm back! ... bye. *swoosh* I'm Batman. ~runs away~"
Oh, and did I say Batwing? I meant "The Bat". Yeah, they are actually calling it that. Kinda weird, since it doesn't even look like a bat - looks more like a beetle, but whatever.
And yeah, speaking of which - Batman is barely in this movie. Of all the 2 hours and 45 minutes, we get about 30 minutes of Batman... or maybe even 35, but probably not more. So yeah, Batman barely appears in this movie - it's mostly Bruce Wayne, Bane and company. Other reviewers have said we need to look at this as a "Bruce Wayne story", and not a Batman story. Uhm... kay? I thought that was why we had Batman Begins.
Oh, and something that really killed Batman for me here is the first time he talks. I mean, sure... his voice was silly in the first two. But the first time he talks in this movie, he tries harder than he has ever tried before. I had a really hard time to keep myself from laughing in the cinema (no one else seemed to laugh, so... lame crowd).
The story is a mess in this movie, I think. But what they really did well to me, was to portray Bane as a huge threat. I actually felt more threat with Bane than with the Joker from the last movie (sure, the Joker was a more colorful performance, but still). Bane actually felt invincible... up until when Batman has his rematch with him, where you just knew he was going to be able to defeat him. Maybe I was hoping too much - because I was expecting something like with Crocodile from One Piece. You know, the strong main hero tries his hardest to defeat the villain physically, but can't manage to do so even after the second try, and barely at the third try. But then, just out of nowhere, the hero figures something out, and gets the strength and willpower to just beat the living shit out of the bad guy in a dramatic epic moment of awesomeness with a strong classic music piece in the background.
Yeah, my expectations where high in the climax. But, can you really blame me? This movie did absolutely everything to build up the ending with this epic dark huge storyline. Aaand it didn't quite deliver. But as said, Bane is a very threatening villain. You know what? He is what Voldemort should have been in Harry Potter. With Voldemort, everyone fears him so much automatically to the point of not daring to say his name... doesn't make Voldemort threatening - just makes the rest look like wimps. But here with Bane, he demands people to respect and fear him. They try to act tough and even indifferent at his presence at first - but then Bane just shows how god damn powerful he can turn out to be. I found it a bit odd he talked like Sean Connery (no, seriously), and he could even sound a bit silly at times like when he reveals Gordon's letter telling the truth about Harvey Dent... but, I could more than well get over that. The actor did great with what he got to work with, I have to say. And I actually loved the first encounter between Bane and Batman where they fight, as we really get to see what an unstoppable force Bane seems to be... even breaking Batman's back, like he did in the comics.
Maybe I'm not a big fan of the way they designed Bane in this movie, but... it grew on me, if nothing else.
I would say the movie feels like it only has three types of scenes through the entire experience - action scenes, pretentious dialogue scenes where everyone seems to know exactly what to say, and scenes of people suffering - one person or several. Just like The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises never seems to take a break. But it's even worse in Rises. You never get the chance to let the atmosphere of the movie sink in... something that made Tim Burton's Batman movies so powerful to me, with or without their possible other flaws.
And I think I should now bring up Miranda Tate... AKA, Talia Al Ghul as she turns out to be in the climax. This is a very, very, VERY poorly written character. She has no personality whatsoever. And when Bruce reveals to her along with Fox about that big thing they say can turn into a nuclear bomb... I just simply knew right away it would turn out to be a huge mistake. And I was right. Right after Batman defeats Bane in the climax, Talia reveals herself as Talia, and... Bane has been working for her all along? This just ruins SO much for me with Bane. I really liked his character, unclear motivations or not. And then this character shows up claiming SHE is the mastermind? Or well, to be fair, Bane still could be the mastermind behind it all and is doing it for her. But... yeah, it's revealed Bane basically is Talia's personal bitch. What bothers me most is that now, the two only live action versions of Bane are the two only versions of Bane where he's working exclusively for a woman, and no one else. I don't get it. Oh, and earlier in the movie, Miranda/Talia is briefly only seen as someone Bruce knows. And then they go to his mansion, and... they have sex. This is the most shoehorned in romance I have ever seen. Right out of nowhere, they just simply kiss each other. I was raising an eyebrow in confusion. And when she turned out to be Talia, I couldn't help but to think they only did that brief love between her and Bruce because Talia is a love interest of Bruce/Batman in the comics and animated series. I really wish they could have just left her out of the movie, since there's no reason for us to care about her character, or her as the big villain behind it all. And on top of everything, the actress is just awful.
I didn't get why they had this subplot about that Gordon is about to get fired, because it literally goes nowhere. And Blake is a new character here who gets a lot of screentime. And all the time I saw him, I just felt like he was a replacement of Dick Grayson, since Nolan has been whining about how much he feels like he never wants to see a Robin in his movies. And then in the end of the movie... it turns out his real name is Robin. Uhm... kay? Nolan... you do know Robin isn't supposed to be his real name, right? It's either supposed to be Dick Grayson, Jason Todd or Tim Drake... genius. Yeah, sorry if I seem offensive here - but this just feels like a embarrassingly dumb move. Not only because he got the name wrong - but also because this feels like he is giving the middle finger to anyone who wanted to see a Robin in his movies. And even worse - at one point, Batman tells Blake he should wear a mask to protect his loved ones. Wow... that is the most contrived line I have ever heard in my entire life. Oh, and I also love how the cops calls Blake a "hothead", even though he is literally the most calm and relaxed of all the cops in the movie.
One thing I really like with the plot of this movie is when we see Gotham turn into a place where criminals rule. I especially loved to see Jonathan Crane as the Judge to judge all the rich people to walk on ice and fall through and die. Though... I have to admit, it bugs me we don't get to see him with his mask at any point. I actually agree with what Spoony said in his vlog about this movie - should have given one last scene/closure to the character, even if it was just something brief. Just see Batman walk up to him and give him a punch in his face when he has been putting his mask on in an attempt to scare him? That would have been funny to me.
And speaking of funny - I think this movie has some clever jokes in it (and some dumb ones, but anyway). Like when Batman talks to Catwoman, briefly turns his head around and then sees she has vanished, as he says "So that's how it feels.". Now, that was really funny to me. And when he tries out the Bat the first time, Fox says "And yes Wayne, it does come in black.". Also very funny, IMO.
The realistic aspects where not as strong in the two first movies as fans claims them to be, but... I have to say, it's even worse in this movie. Lots of things just felt SO unrealistic to me. Like when Bruce's back is broken, and one guy just punches hard once into his spine to fix it. I mean... it's a spine - one of the most sensetive parts of the body to break, and not something you can just put back into place with a simple punch.
And some things in the story didn't really add up to me. I can admit I felt it was nice to see Bruce in this movie go down into his batcave and sit in front of some computer screens there as he tries to solve out something like a detective, resembling the animated series to me a lot. But... thinking about it, it doesn't make much sense. If he retired after what happened 8 years ago, then why did he update his cave and stuff?
By the way, this is an odd thing to say, but... I really missed to see another update on the batsuit in this movie. In the first movie, we saw that one suit he had there and how it functions. In the second movie after he has the original suits for a few times, he then discusses with Fox about a new costume which we then see him use instead. But in this movie? He just has that costume again for the entire movie. Why couldn't they at least have an update for the costume for that last time he wears it in this movie? Enhance/improve anything at all, but at least give me something. I don't know - I just think it's a fun thing to have there. Hell - they even did this in the 4 first Batman movies before the Nolan movies. The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are the two only live action Batman movies where Batman has the exact same batsuit as the main suit. I am sorry if this seems like a nitpick - but I really react to it.
I think it's time for me to talk about the worst thing about this movie, in my opinion. The ending, that is. So, this bomb has this timer on it, even after Talia and Bane are both dead. And Batman takes the Bat and flies off with it to the distance with the bomb attached with a line hanging below it, we see Batman in the cockpit, and then it blows up. Everyone thinks Batman/Bruce Wayne is dead after that. Oh, did I say "think"? Yeah. Because after we see Alfred return and cry, he sits later at a cafeteria where he nods with a smile over to Bruce Wayne, who sits with Selina Kyle some tables away... alive. I am not even kidding.
This is an insult on SO many levels to me. First of all, we clearly saw Batman sitting in the cockpit. Sure, it was revealed that he had it figured out with the autopilot for the Bat, but... where was he then? And even IF I'll buy that, it still is insultingly dumb for me to get this happy sugarcoated ending where he literally lives happily ever after with his new love interest, like some sort of lighthearted bullshit love story. Bruce Wayne isn't supposed to be able to do this - it's completely messing with his character... even within Nolan's own movies. Hell - Rachel wrote a letter to Bruce in The Dark Knight where she says there won't be a time when Bruce won't need Batman. This might seem odd to say, but why couldn't they just let him die? It doesn't even add up with Alfred nodding at him with a smile, just like he knew about this all the time. If that was the case, then why did he cry at the graves when he was left alone and said in front of the graves of his parents he was sorry for failing them? This is not consistent! Yeah yeah, "Bruce could have told him after that"... you know, I don't think in that case Alfred would respond with a smile and nod in that case. I just don't get it... the most dark version of Batman in live action has the most lighthearted and sugarcoated ending of ANY Batman movie period??!
This movie doesn't seem to know what it's trying to be, or what it's trying to do. I can tell Nolan really didn't want to do this movie... either that, or he thought he could get away with anything since everyone loves his movies (and evidentally; it worked, since this movie is praised ridiculously high). His two first movies where at least consistent, and they seemed to know what they are trying to be. Their tones are clear, and their themes feels clear as well to me. I might not prefer Nolan's Batman movies, and they have a lot of flaws overall... but, even with the great things in The Dark Knight Rises, the two first movies are by far better to me. Batman Begins would definitely get a 7 of 10 from me, and The Dark Knight 8 of 10. Not my cup of tea in some regards, but watchable and great for the right audience. I can appreciate they exist so those who prefers this type of Batman can have something to watch.
But The Dark Knight Rises... I don't get it. The movie is a mess. It even feels in some ways it ignores the second movie. Hell - the Joker isn't even mentioned in this movie (Nolan claims it's because he wants to respect Heath Ledger, and therefor isn't doing it... but that makes no sense to me). I have heard someone say there's a brief nod to the Joker after the end credits of The Dark Knight Rises, but... I haven't been able to see that, since they toned out the movie before that in the theater I was watching it in. It could just be bullshit for all I care.
But yeah... I really tried to love this movie, but it was harder than I thought. Or, it was at times easy, and at other times hard. As said, it's a very loopy movie in terms of quality. Maybe I will appreciate it more with a second view, but I am not entirely sure. I just know it's not a masterpiece for me. Just a movie that seems to be confused with what it's trying to do.