THE DARK KNIGHT RISES aims to be RETURN OF THE KING with its grand scale visuals and big battle in the streets with an army of cops charging an army of crooks. The story heads to an epic conclusion for the Batman. Things are going to end either good or badly. But ultimately it slips a bit with its story execution and surprisingly lackluster direction. I expected a near perfect film with the mistakes from the past ironed out. But, no. There actually seems to be even more. DKR isn't a bad movie. It isn't a major disappointment. But it could have been so much better. It's strange to see such a big movie with great talent behind and in front of the camera flounder and mostly miss the emotional beats of the film. This one mostly misses the mark. Mostly.
The story involves Batman fighting to save Gotham from Bane and his devoted mercenaries. There are good character moments throughout the film that keep DKR from crashing and burning into Van Helsing craptacularness territory. Gordon is really good dealing with the conflict of having to praise Harvey Dent the guy who almost killed his son just to give Gotham their hero. It's a small part of the story but it adds significant weight to a way over the top exaggerated plot. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was surprisingly great and one of the best additions to this Batman Trilogy. Her scenes stand out from all the rest and I kind of wish she was in the previous instalments of this franchise. She makes everything better and it is kind of cool watching her fight side by side with Batman. Bane is a large scary beast. He presents Batman with his most menacing foe ever. Joesph Gordon Levitt is always good in everything he does. This movie is no exception. I like Christian Bale as Batman and he has some good drama with Michael Caine. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES takes some good character risks and breaks the mold for how a Batman movie should end. There is a lot to like. But there is a lot to dislike too. Alot!
First Batman's voice still sucks. That hasn't changed and neither has his lisp. Instead of saying "citizen" he says "citi-shin". Yikes. Bane's voice kind of suckolas too. He sounds like Sean Connery. I swear if Sean Connery was possessed by the Devil it would sound like Bane. It's kind of off putting and it makes it hard to tell what he is saying most of the time. Its almost comical and out of place. I noticed in THE DARK KNIGHT that there were times that it was hard to hear what everyone was saying. It would be small moments but they happened every now and then. In THE DARK KNIGHT RISES that happens in almost every scene especially if Bane is present. For the most part those kind of flaws don't really bother me. It is easy for me to forgive. You have to be very forgiving if you are a horror fan. My biggest problem with this movie is how tepid and mediocre almost every scene is. There are not too many memorable scenes in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. The fights between Bane and Batman are unimpressive. None of the punches seem to have any impact on the audience. Watch THE RAID. Every punch, kick and slam is so visually compelling that you can almost feel the impact. That is not the case in DKR. But its not just those fight scenes. Catwoman kicks some butt too big time but the choreography is slow despite her being so quick. No one seems to get hurt. Yeah, the bad guys fall down and don't get back up but you never feel like they just got their butts kicked. Oh, well at least you can tell what is going on. Gone are the days of the BATMAN BEGINS shaky blurry whooshy cam.
From the very beginning of the film where Bane appears on a plane faking the death of a doctor and killing a bunch of C.I.A. guys to about half way through the film there is this unshakable blandness to everything that is happening on screen. Only on occasion do you feel emotionally tied to what is going on. The thrills never thrill. The fights never impress. Things do get better despite the strange plot of Bane taking over the city trapping Gotham's police force underground for three months. I like the way the movie ends. I know the nerdo's out there will be pissed with that and some of the representations of the comic book villains. Come on, guys. A movie is limited with a run time. It can't spend years and years establishing long story arches and character motivations like comic books can with unlimited issues that never fully end their stories.
It took awhile but I did end up enjoying THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. It has strange problems but it does get better. I would have like to see more Batman in this Batman movie. He doesn't use enough gadgets and he barely does his whole detective thing. He does fly around in a U.F.O. which is pretty cool but it kind of reminds me of a flying Transformer or something. The ending is good I just wish the rest of the movie matched it's level of awesomeness. Maybe if I watch it a second time I will like it more. But I doubt it.