Well, here it is, the final installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. Christian Bale’s final hurrah as the caped crusader. With all the hype and hoopla the surrounds it, let’s get the obvious questions out of the way before I give my thoughts.
Was this movie hyped to the teeth? Yes.
Was there expectations of this movie to be incredible there before the movie was even on the writing desk? Yes.
Did the movie meet said expectations? Yes.
Did the movie exceed them? No.
Sorry, didn’t mean to raise ire and incur the wrath of the rabid faithful that worship the pointy-eared masked vigilante like a gold-encrusted bovine statue. But please note, I thought the movie was great. But for negotiations sake, that’s as high as I am going to go. I won’t call it phenomenal or anything, or contender for best movie in the last one hundred years. The second movie, the Dark Knight, had a better chance for that when I saw it in theatres.
The movie starts off where the billionaire Bruce Wayne became a recluse in his own home, never leaving the house, and watching his billions go up in a puff of bad economic turmoil. And with the apparent Dent Act in place to rid the city of most of the crime, Gotham City is the safest it’s been in centuries. Of course, if they could, I would like to read that act, and possibly find out how they did that, and see if it encroaches on any personal freedoms to do so, but this is fantasy, so I’ll let it slide.
Enter Ann Hathaway as Salina “Catwoman” Kyle, with no seen obsession with cats and leather like Michelle Pfeiffer’s attempt, so already off to a flying start. Also winning out on the “Which villain will attempt to kill the Bat Man” sweepstakes was Bane, played by up and coming Tom Hardy. That’s Bane, not Bain, the company Mitt Romney ran that’s causing political headaches for the governor of Massachusetts. Bane is a big muscular bulky guy, with Darth Vader style breathing apparatus, also with excellent intelligence and speaking ability, even though it sounds like he talks from the other side of a large cardboard tube.
Other characters and situations show up, and the movie has a lot of twists and turns, but I’d rather not go into too much detail about them. That would spoil the movie. Who do I look like, David Letterman?
The movie runs two hours and fourty five minutes, and that seems like an awful lot of time to just see a guy in a leather costume beating up cronies and saving the day, but the fact is there is a lot going on, and the immersion factor still exists that also shows up in Nolan’s other works, that it keeps your attention on the tasks at hand, and you barely get lost in the shuffle. Some people don’t like sitting in a theatre for that long, and I can perfectly understand why, but it’s not like Gladiator where it will bore you half the time. There’s not a whole lot in the movie that can bore the hell out of you. There are scenes that drag, but not that many.
What the movie does have, are those plot device moments that make the movie seem formulaic. Like the timers that seem to be slowing down so that the scene can catch up to the pace, the puzzle pieces that just happen to make sense like a Murder She Wrote mystery, and the actions and stunts that make you question where the Mythbusters are at a time in need. There’s also a Chekov’s gun style monologue near the beginning that shows up in the ending in a predictable fashion. Even the batwing-like flying device that shows up seem to have unparalleled strength and thrust, and pretty much impossible maneuvering through a major metropolitan city. And no, you can’t call mentioning the flying device spoilers, there all over the trailer, so there.
The story was apparently inspired by Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, which was a piece about rich, poor and the French revolution. You can definitely see the set pieces to class warfare throughout the entire setting. The movie sometimes feels its trying to make a political statement, much a lot like the terrorism angle in the previous installments, but dances around the subject without offending anyone in the audience that might not agree.
As far as acting is concerned, you know what the actors are capable of if you’ve seen their work in previous projects. Some more than others feel to kick it to second gear to stab themselves in the thigh with plastic forks to bring out the tears. Even Michael Caine, who didn’t get much of a part in this version, is breaking out his bag of tricks from his Cider House Rules days to add some extra sauce to this lines. Hathaway brings out the sexy and the quirky for her role, something that Catwoman needs to be convincing, and it works. I was initially concerned if Hathaway can do it, but she pulled it off. Tom Hardy had the biggest obstacle playing the mechanical luchador. Bane is supposed to be this towering powerhouse, but with Hardy being only 5’10” according to IMDB, they had to use the classic trick you see in W.W.E. Programming where they put the camera by the feet and lean towards the actor to make him look taller. But Hardy still made a great villain, even with the limitations.
As mentioned, the movie was great, and is definitely a movie that is worthy of the Bat-seal of Approval from the trusty BatStamp. Flaws and little annoyances aside, it’s entertaining to watch and enjoy once, even twice. Nolan can definitely use this trilogy to prove that he knows what he can do as a movie director. Even if they decide to find a way to make more of these, or keep hinting at a Justice League movie later on, the series stands on its own as a great interpretation of the famed superhero.