The end of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale's Batman trilogy is here. It's always difficult to write up a review immediately after watching a film, especially after a midnight showing. With a movie like this, you'll walk away with a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach. I've thought about it for a bit before pouring out my words. What it comes down to is I liked the movie...a lot.
I have to admit, I didn't have the absolute highest hopes for this movie. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the previous two films. I even watched them both back-to-back before hitting the midnight showing. This is a Christopher Nolan film. It's supposed to be great, right? It's that sort of pretentious attitude many have that sometimes puts a damper on my outlook. There's the subtle pressure that you're just supposed to like it before even getting to the theater. Despite all my skepticism, I did get sucked into the film.
It should be noted that watching all three within the same period really makes you appreciate what Nolan has done. You see how this truly is a trilogy. You can see how it all fits together. There were some connections between the first two but I never got a huge sense how closely they were tied.
I love Christian Bale as an actor but I can't say he was ever my favorite part in any of the films. In the previous two, there was always another actor that shined more than he did. That's the case here as well. Bale does do a great job though as a broken man. This isn't the "Batman beats everyone" that we know from the comics. He starts out broken and the fact that the film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, adds to the heavy and dreary vibe taking place.
What about Tom Hardy as Bane? He's good. But I was distracted by his voice. It's not the same from what we saw in the earlier released preview. It's definitely louder but at times it was too loud. This is one of those cases where you have a certain voice for the character in your head and the live-action performance just doesn't capture it. He is an intimidating foe. He does some hardcore fighting. Will he actually break Batman? He definitely has the ability.
Joseph Gordon Levitt's John Blake was a surprisingly likable character. I say it's a surprise because all we see in the trailers is he's a police officer. People have had their suspicions but he plays the role of being the one that still believes in Batman even though he's been missing for years. He's a truly good character with the enthusiasm that Gotham needs to have on the police force.
The big question many have is what about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman? I will say I approve. She did a great job. And shouldn't that be the case for those that trust in all the decisions Nolan makes?
This is a Catwoman that kicks ass. She straddles the line between good and bad but it's because she has her own reasons. She has to look out for herself. There are plenty of scenes with her and also a little nod to a familiar Adam Hughes cover comic fans should recognize.
The main difference in this movie over the others is Batman actually has allies to fight with. He does really need them. It almost makes you believe that we could have have had a Christopher Nolan Batman movie where he actually has a partner or two.
Even with the running time close to three hours, you don't feel the story dragging. There is a sense of time passing by and you're not going to want the movie to end. This is the last of the trilogy after all. The passing of the time does add a more realistic element to the film as well.
The important thing to note is this isn't just a comic book action movie. There is a story. It runs the risk a little at times with the vast number of characters included but they all play an important role. The performances are top notch (except the death scene of one character). As the movie approaches the end, you're filled with a feeling of dread. This is Nolan's final Batman film. It's the end of the franchise until it's rebooted. In other words, anything goes. I started getting this feeling in the back of my mind about three-fourths of the way through but quickly told myself I'd be okay with any outcome thrown our way.
Of course there will be the obvious comparisons to The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man. I know I will be asked which I liked better. It's hard to compare them. I did have issues with the Lizard as a movie villain but did enjoy that movie. Of course I loved The Avengers as well. The difference is The Avengers was a comic book movie and Dark Knight Rises is a comic book film. They're just so different.
It was a great film. It did the character justice even if he was broken and had to fight his way back. The performances and character portrayals were what I would want as a Batman fan. It's a little heavy at times but contains so much great action. It's the perfect ending to Nolan's trilogy.
Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter@GManFromHeck. He couldn't help but smirk a little when Christian Bale/Batman kept yelling, "Where's the trigger?!?"