I intended to enjoy this film.
I'd found the two preceding movies in this trilogy to consecutively be fantastic, and, well, below average. Which was I going to opt for regarding The Dark Knight Rises? It could have gone either way.
In the event, there were a number of similarities with the second film, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. It again began with the principle villains having their faces covered for several minutes. The bad guy also kept killing his helpers on a whim, which again made a mockery of the survivors' ongoing loyalty to him. And the perceived inability of the public to cope with hearing the truth? Well, actually Commissioner Gordon seems to have slowly realised what an lousy end that made to the last movie.
At the outset here he's trying to come clean and make a speech admitting to Harvey Dent's succumber to corruption in the preceding film, but in the event he just can't go through with it. What happens instead is that the black-hearted Bane steals the script from him, and proceeds to deliver it himself. Oh, and launch an enormous terrorist attack on Gotham. Well, I can sort of see his point there - I was rather offended by the end of the second movie too.
Goading Bane on is the police department's decision to gather en masse and form an enormous inviting target for him, which disturbingly reminded me of the way I witnessed them lining up at the Olympics this past summer.
It's here that the film really gets teeth though. Again as with the last one, director Christopher Nolan wisely saves up his budget of IMAX shots, and then splurges a lot of them on this mammoth sequence of destruction. Up until this point the many overhead shots of the city in this ratio have been stunningly beautiful. Now however, everywhere you look, the world is going to hell, in galling detail. It's compelling to watch, yet in an appalling way.
In fact, the IMAX has got to be my main praise point of the whole movie. To put it simply, there is no other moving picture format in the world that can better 70mm, and on the biggest screen in Britain too! (20m x 26m) Spectacular.
However the on-off nature of IMAX's 1.43:1 aspect ratio once again makes the whole thing feel unfinished, and is a hard shortcoming to understand when the budget is approaching $2million per minute. One IMAX action sequence towards the end features a single shot in the middle in mere widescreen, which I'm sure the editor must have debated long and hard over whether to use.
But no matter how upfront this movie is in showing us the sheer enormity of the odds that Batman is up against this time, the soundtrack doesn't keep up, and in so doing subtracts from its authenticity.
There is such a thing as recording dialogue too clearly, and while that may sound like a harsh criticism, the fact remains that crowds of people just do not stand there in complete silence while someone else is speaking. In several scenes, there is no footsteps track, which when you can see a character using a flight of stairs really notices. I have a theory that maybe the steps were visible in IMAX, while the sound may have been mixed for the widescreen version which cropped off the characters' feet, but without forking out another twenty quid I now have no way of checking. How great was Alfred's resignation scene, but for how unnaturally isolated his and Bruce's dialogue was?
Overall, I found this a challenging story to follow, although I reckon that I got about 75% of it, which for me tends to be the going rate for movies by the brainy Chris Nolan.
Still, lead actor Christian Bale claims back the series as his own in this one (last time he got mugged of it by Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart), not least because it returns to being a movie about Bruce Wayne. For most of this film he is crippled, often limping around with a stick, as he slowly overcomes his increasing age, battle scars and depression to fight the good fight as Batman one last time.
Oversight-wise, there are some common action-movie clichés sprinkled throughout the production (eg. the beeping countdown that can predict to the second when a bomb will detonate due to instability) but none of this damages the film's tone. It's an awesome depiction of what can happen when simple worldviews fail to respect others, and a reminder that everyone's worldview is a similarly simple one.
Including mine and yours.
(review of Batman Begins here)
(review of Batman: Gotham Knight here)
(review of The Dark Knight here)