In a world of Magic Mike, Jumunji remakes, and enough Men in Black movies to make your head spin a big Hollywood movie finally had the courage to be… well… really good. I remember as a kid sitting, watching those action films that came out from big Hollywood studios. They had more than big budgets and fancy effects, they had a story, they had heart, and as much as Avengers was fun and enjoyable The Dark Knight Rises is without-a-doubt the best big-budget Hollywood film to be made in years.
Nolan is a master director who’s craft comes from an expansive history of old film. And I’m not talking digital, RED camera, Canon 5d Mark 2 digital film, I’m talking spool into a camera, big expensive post-processing type of film. The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) feels more like a modern 50s drama than a story about Batman. The mood and atmosphere are giant, overwhelming, and at all times rarely (if at all) suspend your disbelief. Many superhero films leave a sense of reality behind, and sure at moments Baine can sound like Dr. Evil with his dialogue, but the audience never thinks to themselves, “well that would never happen!” This movie is grounded in a dirty, gritty, ugly reality. Even more so than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins (the film TDKR’s backstory and heart are truly from).
Nolan’s directoral skills here never stray. Whether it be a huge fight or an intimate encounter his characters, his direction leaves a heavy emotional toll on it’s viewers. The evil isn’t just your typical film evil. There is a deep essence of hate for these people. An understanding of how they became the way they are but a complete lack of how they perform the horrible actions they do. Bruce Wayne, a low voiced Christian Bale, goes through a large character transformation and even he, when he’s not yelling at a DP, can put on a good performance, for 90% of the film.
The addition of two other main heroic characters also seems like it’s too much for one film and in some ways it kind of is. The new police officer, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, and Anne Hathaway add some new spice to the table, keeping the tired formula feel fresh and new. Anne Hathaway especially gives a fantastic performance in a bar fight scene where she screams for help while fleeing the scene. It’s a blood curdling moment that is character building and emotional, it’s absolutely brilliant.
Visually the film, shot 60% on IMAX, looks amazing. It is clear, sharp, crisp, and damn it if it doesn’t sound amazing. Watching this film on IMAX will imurse you like no other IMAX movie will. It may though give you a headache as it, just like The Dark Knight before it, switches formats on you edit to edit. One scene in IMAX will then be cut and changed to a normal film ratio and back to IMAX within seconds. The only gripe of the format honestly. If you have a nice IMAX theater and a lot of extra money, go see it on IMAX, it’s an experience no HDTV can match.
The ending is something I will not, and refuse to talk about because I loathe spoilers. What I can tell you is that I left the film, just like everyone else, going “that was the BEST F$#&ING ENDING EVER!”
TDKR is a beautiful film that captures an emotional arc from it’s characters, performances, and it’s visual presence. It’s fantastic finale to the now “legendary” Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy.
Go see it. See it as soon as you can.
5 Bats out of 5