Just got back. It isn't as good as The Dark Knight to me. But it's a great end to the trilogy. There are incredible moments that made me gasp with surprise and sheer fanboy joy. Hats off to Christopher Nolan. Bane's voice was about 90% intelligible. I guess it should be 100%, but I'm okay with the 90%.
The first act is a bit slow and muddled. It's basically all setup for the following two acts. It's the weakest part for me. But the second act with Bruce in the Pit was quite good. And the third act with the ending was great.
The only big complaint I have is that John Blake somehow, out of nowhere, figures out that Bruce Wayne is Batman. In like, the first 30 minutes. That was just absurd to me. Apparently, being an orphan gives you magical Batman-detection abilities? Bane and Talia know that Bruce is Batman because they're with the League of Shadows, so that makes sense. But John Blake knowing his identity just threw me for a loop.
There are some flashbacks to the first two movies. For me, those flashbacks were unnecessary. I could've done without them. However, I completely understand that there are people in the audience who might not have watched the first two movies (why would you do this?) or just haven't watched them in a long time and might not remember those key moments. So... I guess I can see why they felt like putting them in. They weren't bad.
The first duel between Batman and Bane is fantastic, and the better of the two. Just jaw-droppingly awesome from start to finish. The music is completely gone, so you can really feel the bone-crunching impacts of their blows. And then yes, Bane does the iconic back-breaking move. Just perfect. Loved, loved, loved it!
They do a good job of explaining why the military doesn't just storm in and rescue the city. I was wondering how they were gonna explain that, because bridges getting blown isn't gonna stop the might of the US army and air force. But they had a good trump card.
The moment when Bruce gets halfway up the pit and the swarm of bats suddenly bursts out of the wall, while Zimmer's bombastic music kicks in... holy shit. Another fantastic moment constructed by Nolan with an eye toward the beginning of his saga.
There are so many callbacks to Batman Begins. Ra's Al Ghul makes a comeback, though not the way you expect. It works in this Nolan universe. And Talia's reveal was predictable, but I can imagine it might've been a great twist for people unfamiliar with the comics.
The tricks the Batpod do in this movie are amazing. Just amazing.
Kinda missed Alfred. He's in the first act and then leaves Bruce. I dunno if I really bought that. Would Alfred really leave him like that?
The Talia reveal was also kinda spoiled for me because I followed the production of the movie and learned that Joey King was cast as a young girl with a shaved head. Ah well.
There was one continuity goof in the movie that the reviews all mentioned, and I only now just realized. Bane and his thugs escape from the Stock Exchange on their bikes and it's daytime. Then Batman shows up on the Batpod and it's now night time. What the hell happened? Did the chase through Gotham go on for hours?
I liked that Bane wore a distinctive red biker helmet. Seemed to be a slight Red Hood reference.
I gotta say, about the ending... I would've enjoyed Batman and Catwoman kissing each other goodbye, if it wasn't for the fact that there was a fusion reactor ticking down to detonation about ten feet away from them, with about a minute and a half left on the clock. Like, Jesus Christ... I enjoy Anne Hathaway as much as the next hetero guy, but... bomb about to wipe out the city! No time for kissy kissy!
About the Gotham PD: They really need to learn to stop putting all their eggs in one basket. In BB, they sent all the cops onto the Narrows, only to have the League trap them there with Crane's fear gas. Now, they send all the cops underground, only to have the League trap them with demolitions. Don't these guys ever learn from their mistakes?
Now, I want to seriously address a criticism that I've been hearing and getting a bit sick and tired of. A lot of the negative reviews have talked about how the second act of the film is the weakest and slowest and should've been cut down. No, no, no. I vehemently disagree with this sentiment. The second act, with Bruce in the pit, is absolutely fine and is not the weakest part by any means.
Bruce is in the pit for a long time because he needs to regroup and recover. He needs to build himself back up, physically and spiritually. And he needs help to do that. He needs sage advice from the wise blind man in the cell next to him, to discover that the fear of death is something he has to have to defeat Bane. This was all needed. In the Knightfall comic arc, Bruce heals his back and gradually regains his skills but knows he cannot be Batman again until he is able to pass a final test... leaping from a highrise and perfectly snagging a pole on the way down before falling to his death. This final test is thematically replicated in the movie with the climb out of the pit. Both require a leap of faith. Personally, I found this scene in the movie to be incredibly inspirational and moving.
There's also complaints that it's just a training montage. Well... I love training montages, like those in the Rocky films, so this doesn't bother me at all. There was a training montage in Batman Begins with Ra's that was great, why is it not okay here?
Some people have also criticized this pit sequence as unnecessary because Nolan's just repeating it twice in the same movie. They'll point out that Bruce finding his mojo happens twice, first when he returns from his 8 year exile as Batman, and then again when he returns from the pit. Why do it twice in the movie? Well, because the first time wasn't really the one. Sure, he suited up in the batsuit again, but he wasn't fully healed yet. He was just playing the part, hoping that sealing himself back in the armor would be enough. But it wasn't. That's why Bane broke him. He didn't fully recover until he climbed out of that pit.
I'm still thinking about which movie I like better, Batman Begins or Dark Knight Rises. They're almost opposites of each other, because Batman Begins starts out with an incredibly strong first half and then declines in the second half, while Dark Knight Rises starts out somewhat flat and really gets strong in the second half.
One thing I kept reading from all the reviews was that this was the darkest of the three films. And I have to agree, it was immediately evident upon exiting the theater that this was about as bleak and dark and dirty as you could push a superhero movie. We all instinctively knew it was going to be the polar opposite of The Avengers this summer, and they really do sit at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. One of the early scenes where I really felt this was:
Gordon and his SWAT detail entering into the sewers in pursuit. You see all of these heavily armed SWAT officers with body armor and helmets and you feel like it's gonna be alright. Gordon's well protected. But then, one by one, they just get mercilessly picked off and blown up. And all of a sudden, Gordon is all by himself, in this incredibly vulnerable situation. And I felt the menace and dread immediately. A chill went up my spine, seeing these SWAT officers getting cut down in rapid succession. Up on the surface... the Gotham police is at least on equal footing with the criminal scum. But you realize that once they went down that manhole, they were going completely out of their element. They were now on the enemy's turf and badly outmatched. And the fear inherent in this sequence was just so effectively orchestrated by Nolan. That's when I thought... man, this is not a kid's movie. The Dark Knight was not a kid's movie, but this is even more not a kid's movie.
This is probably the last time we're ever going to see a mainstream superhero movie this dark.