For most films, one viewing and one review is more than enough. It’s rare for a film to come along that — no matter how well it works — demands a second viewing and perhaps additional discussion. The Dark Knight Rises is certainly one of those films. This has a lot to do with the fact that it’s closing Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy. A trilogy that I saw the other day was being hailed as “The Godfather Trilogy of Our Generation.” That’s taking things a bit far, but the emotion and fan dedication around this trilogy is certainly unprecedented. At least since that story in a galaxy far, far away.
Yesterday our own Robert Fure gave you a list of 11 Things That Didn’t Work in The Dark Knight Rises. And he’s some great points. There was a lot that did not work. As I explained in my own disappointed review last week, this film is a right mess. Christopher Nolan made plenty of uncharacteristic decisions in bringing his trilogy to a close. But upon a second viewing this weekend with a group of friends, I realized that The Dark Knight Rises is too big a movie to be one way or the other. I still absolutely stand by every word of my review and agree with the points that Robert brought up yesterday, but I feel as if there is an entire list of things that did work. Because this is that kind of movie. Big enough to have plenty of good to go with the bad. With that in mind, I’ve composed a list of 11 Things That Did Work in The Dark Knight Rises.
Obligatory Warning: The following points are meant to be discussed following a viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. Nothing will be held back for the sake of spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle
It took a second viewing to really fun with this character, but she is just that: fun. Hathaway’s Selina Kyle provides energy when she’s on screen. She’s really the only character who is not constantly being sucked into the vacuum of dour that permeates so much of this story. She’s a rogue in black spandex and one of the few unpredictable quantities this movie has to offer. Even though her ending in a cafe in Italy seems rushed and way out of left field, she is one of the few characters in this story that has any discernible arc. Also, she’s fun. And that’s important in a world where there’s just no fun.
Wally Pfister and His IMAX Camera
Even if Christopher Nolan did, as I accused him, make this film just so that he could play on a scale unlike anything available to other filmmakers, he does create some massive scope with the IMAX lens. The opening sequence that sees Bane’s gang overtake a plane, the big motorcycle chase scene that leads to the introduction of The Bat, the list goes on. All of these scenes benefit from the sheer size of the IMAX eye. Taken as pieces on their own, they are pure awesome.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there’s a character in this movie whose in-character voice is sillier than Bale’s Batman growl. Or the fact that this film has far more Bruce Wayne than it does Batman. Either way, Christian Bale really shines. Whether selling the hobbled, broken Bruce Wayne with a busted leg or a broken back, or showing us the rage of Batman in the sewer fight with Bane, Bale gives his best performance yet as the billionaire bat.