Batman Got His Ass Kicked, And It Was Fantastic: 21 Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy is officially in the books. All in all, it took us nine years, $585 million in total budget, and hundreds of thousands of man-hours to get here. Which, naturally, means it’s time to make judgmental, pithy comments about it. Oh, The Internet.
Here’s what I thought in the hours following my viewing of The Dark Knight Rises:
1. If we’re grading this on a scale of regular movies, The Dark Knight Rises is terrific.
2. If we’re grading it on a scale of Christopher Nolan Batman movies, it’s still pretty good.
3. Final Nolan-Directed Batman Movie Power Rankings: 1) The Dark Knight, 2) The Dark Knight Rises, 3) Batman Begins. Heading into this movie, could you have seen this shaking out any other way?
4. Where is the Batman music? You know. That DUH. DUH. DUH. DUH DUH. I only counted one sequence that included it, which is, like, eight less sequences than we needed it to be in. I got such an adrenaline kick in the one scene they used it in — seriously, I started grinning like an idiot and bopping my head, which resulted in me being told immediately by my girl to stop, because it was embarrassing or whatever — that I was legitimately confused when I didn’t hear it again. I want to make my girl question why she’s out in public with me more often than once a movie, Hans Zimmer.
5. Tom Hardy did the best job he possibly could. He’s a great actor. And he did a good job here — the best job possible, in fact. But there’s only so many times a dude in a mask can make crazy eyes to convey emotion. (His slow, “I’m going to rip out your trachea as soon as I make my way over to you” strut was great, though.)
6. Which brings me to problem #2: That mask. Bane’s mask was a problem, but not necessarily in the way that you think. Nolan went back and re-mixed the audio to make Bane’s muffled voice more comprehensible, but, for whatever reason, there’s a disconnect between some of Bane’s hand gestures and what’s coming out of his mouth. It might be nitpicky on my part, but it’s something I noticed: Bane would say something, and the associated body movement would come a beat later. (Sidenote: for a perfectionist like Christopher Nolan, wasn’t this a weird problem to have? NEVER WOULD’VE HAPPENED TO JOEL SCHUMACHER.)
7. BUT. Let’s appreciate what Christopher Nolan did here for a second. Can you imagine what would’ve happened had this movie sucked? Like, really sucked? It would’ve been even worse than the fallout from those last two Matrix movies, and a huge black mark on an otherwise stellar career. You don’t live that kind of failure down, and the pressure he was under to create a blockbuster movie that was emotionally gripping and made you think was enormous.
8. Anne Hathaway is a great Catwoman. Hathaway’s transitions between her helpless girly-girl act and her Catwoman ass-kicking was fantastic.
9. But she was given some very bad one-liners. Yes, I am talking specifically about the scene where she effortlessly takes down a group of armed thugs, then says to the last, speechless thug standing, “Cat got your tongue?” Seriously, “Cat got your tongue” almost ruined Anne Hathaway beating the crap out of a roomful of bad guys, which is something that’s very hard to ruin.
10. The best thing about this movie is that it harps on the best thing about Batman: He’s human. Nowhere is this more evident than when he gets savagely beaten by a faster, stronger Bane.
11. Seriously, Batman gets his ass kicked in this movie. The scene of an unconscious Batman getting hit so hard in the face by Bane that his mask is dented into his face is jarring and amazing.
12. Still, wish they went a little harder in conveying Bane’s physicality with other characters. Remember the Joker? He stabbed a dude in the ear! WITH A PENCIL. We were forced to believe that Bane was terrifying from the jump, and I didn’t think the character did enough on screen to earn that rep, besides the scene where he beats up Batman.
13. We needed more body shots from Bane. Like, physical punches to the body. When he unloads on Batman towards the end, and they sped it up juuuust enough to convey what an absolute monster he was? We needed more of that.
14. Besides getting repeatedly beaten up, the other great Batman Vulnerability Moment: That “NOOOO!” towards the end, when he thinks all of Gotham is about to get blown up. Made me cringe, but in a good way.
15. There is a very big moment, involving an iconic and specific event between Bane and Batman from the comics, that they should’ve been more grisly with. You know what I’m talking about.
16. Still: When a broken Bruce Wayne learns to walk again, and then starts doing pushups? Yep. MIGHT’VE GOTTEN A BONER.
17. Why you trying to make me cry so much, Alfred? It got a little misty in that movie theater multiple times, and it was all Michael Caine’s fault.
18. Seriously, that scene with them in the stairwell is terrific. So much bro love.
19. The storytelling is actually tighter and more coherent than in TDK. Weirdly, this made TDK a more re-watchable movie, since you needed to see it a few times to pick up on everything.
20. This was Christian Bale’s best performance in a Batman movie. He wasn’t the most important character in the last movie. In this one, he was.
21. It’s all downhill from here, but you can do much worse than handing the keys to the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Dan Fogarty is the editor-in-chief of our sister (brother?) site, SportsGrid.