Following our various screenings of The Dark Knight Rises last week and over the weekend, our own Peter Hall decided to hash out some of the more confusing elements of the film in a post called 12 Questions We Had After Watching The Dark Knight Rises. What we didn't realize at the time was just how many sites would be writing similar pieces. From picking apart the plot to listing reasons why the film was a letdown, it seemed like yesterday was a day full of negative energy being tossed at a film that was a pretty fun ride, to say the least. So, to balance out all the bummer stories, here are five things we actually loved about The Dark Knight Rises.
Note: This post will include spoilers, so read at your own risk.
1. The IMAX Footage
One of the things to admire most about The Dark Knight Rises is the use of IMAX cameras for roughly one hour of the film's runtime. IMAX is a format Christopher Nolan has championed for years now, and like James Cameron did with 3D, Nolan has really helped inspire other filmmakers to utilize IMAX in ways that absolutely heighten the moviegoing experience. In The Dark Knight Rises, the IMAX really stands out during the many overhead shots of Gotham. As the camera slowly glides over the city, we're pulled in and almost hypnotized by its beauty, until we're reminded of its danger.
Nolan goes for the typical money IMAX scenic shots, but he also plays around with the cameras in close quarters for intense dialogue scenes between characters, as well as some of the film's grand action sequences, which at points featured hundreds of extras. It really is fun to watch Nolan (and his DP for the final time, Wally Pfister) paint with an IMAX brush, and we imagine his ideas will only become more ambitious as his Hollywood career forges on.
2. Batman and Bane Hand-to-Hand Combat Scenes
One of the best scenes in the entire film is the one where Bane breaks Batman's back. It's an iconic moment from the comics, and this scene in The Dark Knight Rises is right up there on our list of favorite scenes from the trilogy. As Selina Kyle watches from behind a locked fence, two titans collide in a powerful moment that brings Batman down to his weakest and most vulnerable point. It's gut-wrenching to watch, because as audience members we know this is a battle Batman isn't prepared to win ... yet. We know our hero is about to get his ass kicked in all sorts of directions, and it's painful. It breaks our hearts.
This is by far one of the trilogy's most memorable moments, made even more intense by the fact that there's barely any of Hans Zimmer's score there to assist (we don't recall any music underneath this scene, but we may be wrong). It's just two guys going at it until one of them breaks. Unfortunately, this time it was Batman.
3. Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle
Because of Catwoman's most recent big-screen history, folks were skeptical when Anne Hathaway signed on to reprise Selina Kyle on the big screen. But Hathaway has some serious acting chops, and Nolan's approach to the character was unique and more grounded than any version we'd seen before. We loved how with Bane, Batman had met his match physically, and with Kyle he had met his match intellectually. Doing press rounds for the film, Nolan said, "Selina is a cat burglar, a grifter, a classic movie femme fatale, really. That was my way in, and we drew the iconic figure of Catwoman from that.”
They also stayed away from calling her "Catwoman" and/or making her "purrr" her lines. This version of Catwoman was smart, sharp, quick with her hands and on whichever side will help her fulfill her selfish requests. She's also vulnerable and compassionate, and we see both sides of her personality clashing throughout the film. There's a reason folks keep talking up a Catwoman spin-off, and it's because we don't want to stop watching this character's story unfold.
4. Bruce and Alfred's Relationship
The relationship between Bruce Wayne and his family's butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), has always been the heart of Nolan's franchise. Conversations between the two have brought us the trilogy's most thoughtful, inspiring and emotional moments, with their scenes in The Dark Knight Rises reaching a critical pique. Both men are more damaged in this film than they've ever been before. There's so much hurt and anger in the all-too-brief moments they do share together on-screen, and we as an audience just want them to hug it out and move forward ... but they can't. They won't. They never do.
Maybe it's because Nolan and his brother Jonathan did so much script work on all three Batman movies that this relationship -- the only real sense of "family" featured across the trilogy -- is the strongest and most heartfelt. There's a lot going on beneath the surface here, and the film's last scene in no way resolves it. It's kinda sad, too, but we hold out hope that one day Bruce will meet back up with Alfred and, without saying a word, just wrap his arms around the man, give him a good hug and simply say, "Thanks."
5. Batman Beginning Again
The third film in a trilogy is a difficult one, especially when it's a superhero trilogy. The thought is that you need to bring your hero to his (or her) knees, both physically and mentally, and The Dark Knight Rises does that. It sort of reminds us of the direction they're taking in Iron Man 3 -- to circle back to the character's beginnings; to make Bruce Wayne feel those same emotions he experienced back when he first decided to become the Batman. Many question how successful the film was during these scenes (especially Bruce's quick recovery time from a broken back), but we admire the attempt and liked how Nolan placed his hero at the bottom of a hole, both literally and figuratively.
To us this was Bruce Wayne's greatest challenge across all three of Nolan's Batman movies. Here's a man who fought so hard and for so long to rebuild the hope he lost when his parents were murdered, and to restore hope in a city that had lost it when master criminals tried to burn it to the ground. And now here's a man who, in order to save his life and his city, needs to return to that place he's spent a lifetime trying to escape from. Bruce needed to turn his biggest weakness into his strongest asset, and when you stop for a second and think about how difficult that is for a person -- how difficult that would be for you to do -- it makes you respect the character even more, and it makes you cherish what Christopher Nolan and his team were able to accomplish with this trilogy.
Feel free to let us know some of the things you loved about The Dark Knight Rises in the comments below.
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