The Dark Knight Rises: A Very Brief Review

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I went into The Dark Knight Rises as spoiler-free as it is possible to be these days. I saw the trailers, so I knew the main antagonists were Bane and Catwoman… But that was about it.  I had zero idea what was to actually happen in the film.
And I think it was far better watched that way, so my review will be vague and oblique: Go see it.
I’d say it’s the best superhero film of 2012, except this is the year of The Avengers, which is neither better nor worse. The Avengers was a perfect execution of old, fun-style Marvel comics that didn’t worry too much about reality as long as you had some exciting fights and good quips.  The Dark Knight rises is about people who happen to do superheroic things, a big-ass action movie wrapped in costumes, and there’s a lot of time spent on character growth.
I never felt like any of the Avengers were in serious danger.  I felt like any one person in The Dark Knight Rises could be taken out by a lucky gunshot.  Which puts the accent severely on “hero.” When Bruce Wayne puts on the armor, he’s putting himself in harm’s way.
As for the movie itself, Christopher Nolan understands the cinema.  He does exciting things in film that haven’t been done on screen before, ever – big, splashy setpieces you have to see on the big screen to appreciate.  The Avengers will fit well on a home-screen TV, as it’s comfort watching, but The Dark Knight Rises will feel a little constrained by not being forty feet high.  He takes huge risks, putting the stakes incredibly high in a way that’s breathtaking to see, and breaks the mold of what we expect from a superhero film.  Bane’s plot is audacious and breathtaking, and he’s a worthy villain.
And lastly, Nolan pulls off the hat trick of unifying his series.  I know, because unlike Lucas he is man enough to admit that he made the Batman series up on the fly, that the ending wasn’t planned well in advance.  But all three movies do have an arc, and the ending neatly answers some plot threads and hanging questions that were started back in Batman Begins – hanging questions that, even having watched Batman Begins the day before the movie, I missed.
Christopher Nolan said the first Batman film’s theme was “Fear,” the second was “Chaos,” and this one is “Pain.”  It was two and a half hours, but it flew by so quickly that despite me drinking a huge-ass iced tea before entering the theater, my bladder never tickled.  I finished feeling wrung-out and satisfied, because this is a tense film and a worthy achievement.
Neil Gaiman thinks it’s Oscar-worthy.  I disagree. This is the kind of action film so good that the Oscars will snub it, and I say good.  Some films are too good for the Oscars.

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