I have heard the naysayers, even before walking in the door to the theater, but learned years ago if you want to watch a movie and enjoy it you have to block all of that out. Having blocked the people who may not be able to appreciate a film on its own merits (you know those who complain because they thought it should be this or that way and are not willing to get over their preconceived notions) I took a seat in the large IMAX theater and braced myself and my bladder for what I knew was a longer-than-average runtime.
The story takes place several years after the last installment, showing Gotham as a city that has come into its own. The city is no longer a massive slum filled with crime but a city reaching for its potential. I don’t think that I’m giving too much away when I say the bright and sunny Gotham is about to come crashing down. I’ll move away from the plot now and focus on the acting.
Christian Bale reprises his role as a Batman who feels like he has nothing to live for or to lose. He brings and emotion, and sometimes even levity, to the complex, broodiest hero of the DC Universe. The lines of dialogue delivered in the angry whispers of Bale’s Batman have forever changed the way we think the character speaks. He gets hurt, badly and often, and his body has been destroyed by the punishment of years of crime fighting. He brings a very human quality to Batman, reminding us that he is only a man with all of his physical weakness.
Anne Hathaway does an amazing job as Catwoman, playing the thief with all the charm and moral flexibility a career criminal should have. She plays her (like all the Noland characters) as a real person, not the caricature some of the movie portrayals have gone to in recent years. I think her performance may have been the best of the whole cast.
Tom Hardy as Bane is hard for me to describe. The character is so far from what I’m used to in the pages of the comics. Hardy did his best, and I’m sure acting through a mask covering most of your face is hard. Still, I felt like Bane was a paper villain. The character was given layers of back story and motivation but in the end was just a thug. I just wasn’t impressed by this strong man villain.
The rest of the cast, including Oldman, Cain and Freeman did their usual bang-up job in the supporting roles of Gordon, Alfred and Fox.
The effects, both practical and CG, were great. I never found it hard to suspend my disbelief. The plot was strong and moved and didn’t make me feel captive in my seat thinking “wow this is long.” Noland focused on telling a trilogy that had a beginning, middle and end, and that is a big part of the strength of this franchise. He created a story that was strong and told well. Christopher Noland found a great way to wrap up his Dark Knight trilogy with finality. No spoilers, but he did leave the slight thread of hope for the story to continue.
I would see this film again and recommend it.