Before I start I’m really keen I don’t spoil anything about Rises for anybody who hasn’t seen it (or even colour anyones expectations). So to summarise, i’d highly recommend seeing The Dark Knight Rises in the cinema, but i’d also suggest watching or rewatching both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before you do.
If you have seen Rises read on for why it’s a much better final act than it is a film, and it’s a pretty damn good film.
On Saturday I saw Rises for the first time and really liked it, but thought it had some problems, mainly pacing as it felt to bog down in the middle where the film can effectively be broken in two. Also as much as I love Tom Hardy, his Bane was not Ledger’s Joker, he felt too slow and heavy which seemed to exacerbate the pacing problems.
I didn’t feel short-changed because the beginning hit all the right buttons with Hathaway providing some sexy laughs and the “Batmans back” sequence reminding us of the trilogies signature motorway chases. Add to that a truly terrific closing half hour which manages to tie up the loose ends without it feeling like a series of obligations or fan-service.
Overall I was happy but it still didn’t come close to threatening my long-held assertion that The Dark Knight is the best Batman film any one would ever make.
Then I finally listened to Mark Kermode’s review of the film (I’d avoided reviews before hand) and the question was raised, can you go watch Rises without having seen Begins and Knight?, the answer was “Yes, but why would you?”, and I realised I’d done it wrong, I thought perhaps it would be better to judge Rises on its own and not weigh it down with the expectations of the first two but in hindsight maybe that was a mistake.
So a plan was devised, I had already planned to have a second viewing of the film Monday night so on Sunday I rewatched both Begins and Knight in all their glory.
Upon my second viewing of Rises I had to try hard to remember what had bothered me first time round, the pacing made much more sense. The stakes felt much greater as instead of “another go round” with a villain, Bane now seemed like having the raw strength that both Ras and Joker lacked and that after temporary victories, this time they where playing for keeps and this would be a lasting victory or defeat.
Overall a lot else linked up, right down to the first scene of Rises being a continuation of a scene from the end of Knight.
For me Rises has stood up admirably to the challenge of rounding up a terrific trilogy which for me now ranks with Toy Story, Bourne, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings as one of only a handful of near perfect trilogies.
*Lots of Spoilers*
*Lots of Spoilers*
I also want to talk about the ending briefly, as something else Mark Kermode said in his review caught my ear. He commented that the endings can be read a number of ways and that really how you read them depend on what you bring to the film, much like Inception. I mainly found that interesting because while I can see some ambiguity in the endings, I assume designed to give scope for many different things to follow, I felt certain the filmmakers intention was clear. Batman is dead, Bruce Wayne effectively reborn. Myself I perhaps would have added some more ambiguity to the endings, and simply had Fox looking at the Bats controls in puzzlement at something he’d found and only shown the close up of Alfred with just a hint of a reaction. Though that might have felt a touch to Inception and would have cut Selina Kyle out. A lot of the fun endings is rolling these possibilities round in your head, especially the Robin reveal, which for me is the biggest, most important and symbolic for the trilogy. The reveal seems the one most likely to lead to a spin-off or sequel, you could be cynical and say it’s in there for just that reason, and you might be right, and yet for the entire film it doesn’t feel that way, it’s be woven in and feels right, and that they’ve been able to take a (possible) corporate requirement and use it to make the film and the ending stronger is exactly what makes the entire trilogy special by tipping all the rules on their head and finding a way to serve both audience and studio so completely without those two being in conflict. A remarkable achievement.
I have skipped that last bit with the very spoilers but because you’ve convinced me to go.
I loathed the first film but adored the second; only recently caught it on DVD and was knocked out by how much more I enjoyed it. But I had heard some positive reviews of the final film that were praising things I hadn’t liked in the first. Can’t remember what now, but I’d come to suspect this third film was really only for fans and I don’t count myself among them.
Havering a bit now over whether to watch the jest one again. Hmm. But you’ve put Rises back on my list of things to see.
Ta for that and nice to see you blogging again.
I’d be interested to know what you disliked about the first film, I think you’d get something from watching all 3 in order again if only from an analytical writers point of view of how narrative elements from the first two films have been tied together in the third in a way I think is not the norm.
Thanks for the comment, didn’t think anyone would notice this. Gonna try and get blogging more, though I often worry my blogs are too ranting and raving, i’ve got half a Newsroom blog which is definitely suffering from that.
Christian Bale’s voice was a problem for me, I remember that. I think it felt as if the film was forever telling me Bruce Wayne was having a bad time rather than showing me. Lots of characters saying how wonderful he is rather than letting me decide that. Can’t remember the villain or villains at all.
All felt very cardboard to me, though it looked good. Hmm.
Bale’s Batman voice was an issue for many people, but I remember thinking it’s exactly what i’d try and do with my voice if I was trying to disguise myself and sound more intimidating.
Based on your other comments I’m now havering on if you should watch Begins again, as basically you need a ‘previously on Batman’ of some of the key elements as it will enhance Rises.
Whatever you decide to do check back and let me know how it goes, asjust recently I discovered someone whose opinion I respect loved Batman Begins but hated The Dark Knight so to have someone whose opinion I equally respect on the flipside of that is interesting.
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