Firstly, I won’t spoil anything substantial that you don’t already know if you’ve watched the trailers.
tl;dr: Don’t believe what the media has been spouting. _The Dark Knight Rises is a great movie, and a superb way to close the trilogy. If you liked the other two movies in the series, you’ll like this one._
I remember being surprised at how, er, dark The Dark Knight was and I was surprised in the same way by this one. This movie does a good job bringing a sense of despair to the audience. That takes time, and The Dark Knight Rises uses a lot of its two hours and forty-five minutes building that dread. The inevitable rebuilding of Batman goes far deeper into the second act than I’d have guessed it would, even bleeding into the third. That ends up being a good thing, although it means there’s less Batman than you’d guess, this being a Batman movie and all.
I like Anne Hathaway a lot, and I think she was a better-than-average Catwoman, though they never reference her by that name. She doesn’t have any quasi-super abilities that she sometimes does in the comics; she’s purely a good burglar. She tends to be under-the-radar as far as the overarching story of the movie goes, although she’s key from Batman’s perspective. She’s like a curiosity that keeps popping up in parallel to the main plot. I find it refreshing that the movie had the guts to not put the hot woman in the catsuit in too many scenes. Hathaway acts the part well, and more subtly than her recent predecessor. She’s a somewhat interesting character, and there could clearly be a lot more to do with her if they wanted to.
Alfred and Lucious Fox are like the devil-and-angel sitting on Bruce Wayne’s shoulders, each pulling him to what they think is in his best interest. Having these roles played by such great actors really pays off in a couple scenes.
Bane is one of the few characters that I like better in the movie adaptation of a comic book. Bane was (forgive me) banal in the comics: a brute who got the better of Batman in what I thought was a weak story. This movie very loosely tells a similar tale (and steals a key scene), but with Bane remade with motivations that fit this trilogy.
The movie, as I mentioned, is very long. That’s a quality I’ve grown to despise in modern movies, but I felt like they really were telling a story the whole time, and it still felt like it was going too fast in a couple of parts. It’s well-directed, and a marvel to watch. I found it to be far better than the reviews I’ve read lead me to believe.
The Unfortunate Context
The shootings in Colorado very early today at the first showings were the elephant in the room while watching the movie. This impacted the experience in a couple of ways. I went to see the movie at the AMC Cupertino, which is normally jam-packed on weekend nights, and I figured I was in for a doozy of a crowd. Instead, there was no line, and the theater was only about half- to maybe two-thirds full at an early evening showing. The news all day has been about tying the movie to the motivations of the madman, which is too bad. I have a lot of feelings about the shooting, but I’ll leave them for now and perhaps write about them later.
More importantly, The Dark Knight Rises holds little back in many scenes where Gotham (which is essentially Manhattan) is overtaken. Watching armed men fire into screaming crowds on-screen was pretty hard to take this close to the shootings, and I found it impossible to not be drawn out of the story. I’m pretty good at disassociating things like the shooting from logically unrelated things like a movie, but that was pretty hard during these scenes.
So, this is a great movie marred by a terrible real-life event and The Dark Knight Rises will be viewed for at least the near future in the context of that tragedy. I still highly recommend seeing it.