I am somewhat perplexed and ambivalent about the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series of films. The Dark Knight Rises rode over the cliff of reasonable suspension of reality, even for a superhero flick. For example, with mere seconds before detonation of an atomic bomb, we clearly see The Batman in his Bat-Copter. There is a multi-megaton blast and we are then treated to the various somber posthumous rituals duly performed. We are then to believe that Bruce Wayne “fixed” the autopilot program in his copter, and this crucial point is made almost casually by a repairman in a split second of film time. Even allowing this rather convenient autopilot resolution, at what point did Wayne leap from his craft? Did he then swim from the middle of the bay, suffering with a seemingly forgotten knife wound to the ribs, to a European nation to rendezvous with the thieving and incredibly flexible Anne Hathaway? The physics of atom-splitting would beg to differ. When Bruce managed to be only the second person to ever escape the Pit Prison, how exactly did he manage to walk from what appeared to be Istanbul back to a completely cutoff Gotham, and when did he find time to shave?
Begins was a necessary film to create the epic orphaned boy turned billionaire turned caped crusader, and I suppose making Wayne a ninja was required to support the intense hand-to-hand combat he would endure over the remainder of the series. But as a standalone film it felt unfinished, which is likely the fate of every first of a series.
I felt that The Dark Knight was the most honest of the films, with Bruce’s childhood sweetheart actually perishing, vs. seeming to perish only to walk through the smoke several scenes later. Heath Ledger’s Joker was nothing short of brilliant, and while Gordon’s cop glasses and mustache combo felt overly contrived to the point of caricature, and Harvey Dent’s All American hero show was overdone, the plot stayed on a steady path and while dark, dreary and callous about human life, it didn’t demand a complete suspension of one’s critical faculties to enjoy it.
I won’t say that I didn’t love the series, because I can honestly say that I did. I was captured by the story and the cinematography and I watched all three films over the weekend. For those who follow my diatribes, you’ll know that I often can’t get halfway through one film, let alone three. But in Rises, one gets the sense that the writers overindulged in creating a deep story-line, with multiple comeback scenarios that had Christian Bale repeatedly growing month’s worth of facial hair. Michael Caine’s Alfred was well written and acted and I can’t recall ever seeing Morgan Freeman play a part poorly. The Bat-Toys, particularly his wings and his rockin’ motorcycle, were pure joy.
The ultimate test of a movie’s quality may be one’s willingness to watch it again. Even though it’s been only 36 hours or so since I first ventured into the Bat-Cave, I can see myself settling in to take it all on again.