SPOILER FREE REVIEW
TDKR is awesome. But not a conventional kind of awesome. It’s BIG. Inception big (I was actually waiting for Leonardo Di Caprio to wake up..).
If the first film was about Bruce Wayne, the second about Batman, then this one is definitely about Gotham. Gotham finally finds itself standing up for itself, which only in hindsight is more satisfying than the Batman taking care of business again. Initially, I was a bit miffed that so little screen time is given to the Batman.
The origin of Bane is fantastic and this is my favourite incarnation of Catwoman. The stellar cast are all put to good use, with new characters being particularly exciting, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character of Blake.
The action sequences are immersive, there’s alot of heart (thanks to another wonderful performance by Michael Caine) and a genuinely satisfying ending. The film also does a great job of tying things together from the previous films.
It’s more like a Bond movie, than anything else, complete with Bond women. The climax is also very Bond, where the structure of the film more or less follows the recent blockbuster format of building up to an epic final hour. The most Bond-like elements of the film are the themes. Bond movies always deal with the zeitgest of the times, the big worries. TDK has often been considered an allegory on the war on terror, where TDKR very much works in themes surrounding the bankers crisis/recession along with climate change/sustainability issues. There’s also hints towards privacy issues.
Bane’s plan (cannot say much without spoiling) is perhaps the most terrifying imaginable, as it is within the realms of possibility in the real world with such a great imbalance of power/wealth. Oppression – resistance – freedom. Chaos into order.
Like Bond, the movies are only as good as the villains and therein lies a main issue for me (see below).
I could go on with the positives (think ‘cellphone’ and ‘rope’), where it ranks highly on my top IMAX cinema experiences.
But it’s not all unconditional praise.
There are a few plotholes and the emotional centre of the film is lost entirely with Alfred absent for much of the film, where the middle section was so grand it was hard to follow. There are a lot of characters here, with various threads all weaving into the overall story (but it does all come together). Like I said, Batman is absent for alot of the film which is difficult to swallow, given it’s a Batman movie. I could not engage with the character of the Bane at all, without being able to see his mouth. His voice doesn’t particularly sound like it’s coming from his mouth (which it won’t be), which is an issue. Not convinced about his fate being befitting either (can’t say much here, in spoiler-free form). Conceptually, the opening of the film is also equivalent to TDK.
I could go on, but it would be petty points. I’ve said my bit.
No film is without it’s flaws, even TDK. I do however believe that on repeat viewings, I will be able to come to terms with the negatives, all of which really stem from the fact Nolan is the fucking man and made a massive movie with balls, relying on his audience being up for the challenge. I can respect that.
A satisfying conclusion to the series and one I’m keen to watch again.
SUPER SPOILERS-GALORE REVIEW
As per above, with the following additions.
How the hell did Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham?
Why spell out Blakes’ name as Robin? And after continuous promises that the character would not appear in the franchise? It was a Marvel-franchise sort of in-joke. Early on in the film when Blake revealed his backstory I was already putting together the pieces of the puzzle for myself. This could be the next Batman. Later, he was a natural and fearless leader with some of the exchanges between Batman and, erm, Robin, being very, well, Batman and Robin. Not sure I needed to hear his name.
Not happy with how Bane died. So much was made of his physical prowess over Batman that from a writing standpoint, the only satisfying outcome would be for Batman to beat him to death. Not for Catwoman to shoot him. That’s just not a satisfying arc. Kill Bill made the same mistake, letting Elle Driver kill Bud, not the Bride.
I anticipated Catwoman to be a romantic interest as there is always one, but it was unnecessary. The romance was always between Bruce and Alfred, never more so than in TDKR. At least little was made of it, not woven deep into the fabric of the movie. This is a plus and minus, as it makes the conclusion a little underdeveloped. Not sure what Catwomans backstory was either, to feel Bruce could let it go. I guess she is match for him in a way. I bought it.
As mentioned before, I think Alfreds absence for much of the film was a bad call. It did however, really help give the climax a really big punch. My missus of course called it, because she is good at that. I didn’t. It was perfect. I was expecting an Inception style shot, where I think Nolan used this expectation to his advantage to manipulate the audience and then give them the shot they wanted to see, after the pause. Well played, Chris.
My missus also called Marion Cotillard as the villain. I did not see that coming. Was too distracted by Matthew Modine in a minor role. Another great sleight of hand, but all too late in the film for me.
‘3 months later’. Really?
Dr. Crane. Why?
Auto-pilot. Genius. Also, didn’t see that coming. Well played, Chris.
Fan of Luther? Blink and you’ll miss it: Ripley is in it! So is Tom Conti, who is fantastic in this film.
Bruce Wayne got laid. Awesome. Also very Bond-like, sleeping with the (at the time unknown) enemy.
I could continue with minor criticisms but the main overall problem for me was the middle section being so grand it was hard to follow. I like to think with repeat viewings I will learn to get over any difficulties I had where I am still looking out for more on Catwomans backstory. I feel like I missed something.
Looking ahead, two key questions emerge:
Will Batmans identity be revealed?
Will Robin become the new Caped Crusader?
It was a bit strange to have so many people know Batmans identity in this film and not make a big thing out of it, given it was such a big part of TDK. We know Gordon doesn’t like to keep his secrets hidden.. what do you think?
If the answer is no, and I like to think it is, then it links nicely onto Robin adopting the persona, so that Batman can be immortal, as per the League of Shadows training and continuous mentions throughout the movie about what it means to be a hero, what Batman can be etc.
Overall, I feel satisfied. I wan’t to see it again. But not on the second row of an IMAX screening. Looking up for 3 hours is nae fun.
4 out of 5, if I had such a system.
Will make no mention of the US shooting in this review, as I believe it to be too early to fully understand what went on. Tragic doesn’t even begin to cover it.
13 minute preview below:
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