Just got back from seeing DKR a second time – which for me is a rare occasion. Still thoroughly enjoyed it. Here are some more thoughts about the film continued from a previous post.
4. Catwoman Was Great
I really love Anne Hathaway and think she is a great actress. I got to see her speak at Wondercon when she and Steve Carell were discussing Get Smart and unlike other actors who seem somehow diminished when you meet them in person she was absolutely radiant. The only problem is that, until now, I haven't really been a fan of any of her movies.
Regardless of whether they loved or hated the film, Hathaway’s performance in the Dark Knight Rises has definitely been something that most critics seem to agree was a strong point in the film. The storyline captured the moral ambivalence of the character and the romantic tension between her and Batman. Moreover, the film captures the way she is both a victim of forces beyond her control and simultaneously a master manipulator of those very forces. She is able to move between multiple worlds and manipulate the expectations of those around her. Consequently, her subsequent worldview makes her hesitant to join Batman’s side early in the film, but also causes her to distrust the “New Gotham” Bane is purportedly trying to create when he “liberates” the city.
Finally, I loved the character pop early in the film when Kyle realizes she has been caught by Bruce Wayne and changes before your eyes from a timid little mouse of a maid to the confidant cat burglar.
5. Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon
Gary Oldman has long been one of my favorite actors. He is versatile and brings incredible depth to any character he plays. His casting as Gordon – one of my favorite Batman characters – was a brilliant decision by Nolan and the producers of the franchise. Gordon is incredibly important to the mythology of the Dark Knight but he can easily be overshadowed by the more exciting figures that make up Batman’s world. Choosing an actor who can do so much with so little was a tribute to the character’s importance and a sign that the filmmaker's understood the mythos they were stewarding. I have long contended that while Heath Ledger was amazing in the Dark Knight, Oldman’s performance in the second film stole the show for me. The Dark Knight Rises continues the evolution of the Gordon character and brings his relationship with Batman full circle in their last meeting of the film.
6. The Score
Hans Zimmer created a magnificent score for the franchise as a whole, but I think the third film more then the others really showcases his strengths. Even though we all knew that Batman would escape from the pit when he ascended it the final time without a rope, the score kept the energy going and created such a sense of triumphalism that everyone in the audience was cheering wildly the first time I saw it. Considering the layers of jaded cynicism that permeate our culture, anything that can pierce those defenses and command the audience to suspend-their-disbelief is a special thing.
Overall I thought The Dark Knight Rises was a solid conclusion to the franchise and a fun movie. I still believe that the second installment, The Dark Knight, is still probably the best single comic book movie ever made but DKR carries the water effectively.
I think there are two strains of criticism for people who did not enjoy the film. The first, perhaps most succinctly explained by Stephen Metcalf in the Slate Culture Gabfest’s podcast, argues that if the Batman mythos and iconography does not already have some cultural currency for you, it is hard to enter the world Nolan is trying to create. The second argument is that there were too many weird little moments that strained credulity and made you question the plot. Some of the comments on my previous post illustrate these arguments effectively. I personally agree that there were several rough parts and the some of the macro themes were a little convoluted.
Ultimately however as a Batman fan I was able to enter the world, and I think that the careful use of symbolism trumped the failures in plot and execution that ruined the films for others. Your thoughts?