Does the new Batman flick rise to the occasion or fall flat?

There is a moment in the first third of the Dark Knight Rises where the film reaches absolute perfection. A moment where all the individual elements of the production come together to achieve one of those "sum is greater than the parts" things. Batman has just met the villain of the picture Bane for the first time, and the ensuing battle is an orgy of bestial yells, savage hits and vicious blows. The shaky cam that littered Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are gone, and the resulting smoothness brought to mind the legendary fight scene in They Live, which is lavish praise indeed.

It is a moment that transcends the story, placing the character of Batman in a stark contrast to the figure we have been presented to in the past. Gone is the in-charge, efficient fighting machine, the quick witted master of all things. Gone is the emotionless and stoic figure watching over Gotham City. In his place we have an animal, hurt and lashing out at the wrongs of the world, a desperate man, fighting with everything he has to make one last difference in a world that doesn't need him anymore. The gunslinger, hired for one last shoot-out. The solder fighting one last battle. The boxer, lacing up his gloves one last time. He is all of these things, and as he falls, so do we, for he was one of us, yet more than us. Unlike Spider-Man or Superman, he was a man, a normal man with extraordinary resources, but a man never-the-less. And as we see him, crumpled and battered, so do we see ourselves.

There is not much to say about this movie, the third and final film in the Dark Knight Trilogy that has not already been sad by many others. Perhaps the best way to express my feelings is by taking a look back at the beginnings of it all. When Batman Begins came out, the idea of a good super-hero movie was still a little new; sure we had X-men and Spider-man, but those were flawed at best (X2 and SM2 hadn't, if I am recalling correctly, come out yet), and the last run in we had with the Caped Crusader involved Bat-Nipples, roller blades and neon lights. In other words, expectations were not all that high.

Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!!!

I can vividly remember seeing pictures of the Tumbler and thinking that this was just going to be another crappy spectacle movie like we have seen over and over again. Batman would swoop in, make some witty quip, and fly off in a jet or something. In fact, I didn't even want to spend money on the potential disappointment that I saw coming with Begins, choosing to download a Russian bootleg instead.

Needless to say I made it 30 minutes, then went to the theater.

Finally, there was a Batman movie for people who liked Batman, not Adam West, but honest to god, Frank Miller Batman. Sure the movie was flawed, and has not held up anywhere near was well as The Dark Knight (or Spider-Man 2 for that matter), but at the time hearing Batman yell "Pray to me!" gave you goosebumps.

I cannot overstress how important Nolan's Batman trilogy is to the landscape of today's film world. Without his films I firmly believe Marvel would not have ventured into the world of film themselves, and instead continued to outsource their licenses. We wouldn't have Iron Man, or Thor, no Avengers. They saw that a comic movie can take itself seriously, and still impress. They saw that a comic book movie can appeal to the masses, even those who never read the comics.

Ah well, enough about that, how was the movie?

Great, a little rough here and there, but great. As was the case in the Dark Knight, it felt a little heavy sometimes, I would guess about 15 minutes could have been trimmed and nothing too bad would have been lost. Other than that one, tiny complaint (OK, two tiny complaints, the voices for Bats and Bane still weren't right), it was almost perfection. The acting was amazing, Micheal Cane brings the house down, as always (note to self: still have to watch Sleuth some day...), the fighting was well done and the directing was innovative without being overbearing, something Nolan does better than anyone in the business.

Speaking of things Christopher Nolan does better than anyone else, the atypical casting of Anne Hathaway was, much as Heath Ledger pulled off earlier, pitch perfect. or puurrrfect if you are Julie Newmar. I am thinking she needs to don a leather jumpsuit in all her future rolls. And, speaking of good looking folks, #rd Rock did a pretty damn fine job in this as well. One day I might bother to learn his name, if he continues to impress me that is.

All in all this was a fitting end to the Dark Knight Trilogy, mixing equal parts Knightfall with The Dark Knight Returns, and poping out a Pop-Tart of Awesomeness the likes of which we shall not experience again for a long, long time. Go see this one folks.

Grade: A

(Side note: My thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims of the horrible tragedy that took place in Aurora, CO. It was a little hard to separate myself from that while watching this movie, especially in the trailers when a scene from an upcoming film had people shooting up a theater from behind the screen...)

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