It's a grand, impressive movie that left me buzzing, but I enjoyed
The Dark Knight
more. The way Heath Ledger's Joker embodied the themes of order versus anarchy in the earlier film lent all the spectacle a thematic resonance that is perhaps a touch lacking in
The Dark Knight
was lightning in a bottle, an unrepeatable feat of populist filmmaking that no successor could ever live up to. Christopher Nolan and company have acquitted themselves as well as everyone could've hoped, upping the scale and adding in plenty of dynamic new characters. If
The Dark Knight
was "Serpico-with-superheroes," the new film is "Giant-Sized-Die-Hard-with-superheroes".
2. The supporting cast does an amazing job. I was one of many who were sceptical when the demure Anne Hathaway was cast as the feisty Catwoman (a name I don't think is ever actually spoken in the film), but she really steps up and makes a great on-screen foil for Batman, both visually and acting-wise. I was wrong to ever doubt Nolan on this front. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also great in his surprisingly prominent role. He served a similar purpose in Inception, and surely deserves to be rewarded with his own lead in a Nolan film now.
3. I really wanted to believe the rumour that there would be some sort of Superman reference in the film, but I should've known better. I guess my fanboy fervour got the better of me. Marvel Studios' universe-building measures in Iron Man, Captain America and The Avengers were so well-received by the viewing public, I was sure DC/Warner Bros would take notice and try something similar here, especially considering Christopher Nolan is an executive producer on the next year's Man of Steel. There are some surprises in The Dark Knight Rises, but nothing along these lines. Stink.
4. When a film has this much tangible goodwill in the lead-up, it's tough to feel much of a personal connection to it. To me, films will always be escapist entertainment first and foremost - on some level this requires a sense (even just a metaphorical sense) that you are the only person responding to it in that way. The global anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises, which built on the incredibly positive reaction to its instantly iconic predecessor, made it EVERYBODY'S movie. And then some. This isn't a bad thing - the film deserves the attention, but I think it resulted in me kinda keeping it at arm's length. Unlike that little undiscovered indie gem Prometheus, which barely got noticed outside arthouse cinemas.
5. Christopher Nolan is a genius who should be allowed to do whatever he wants for his next 10 movies. His proclivity for large scale action with minimal (or at least subtle) CGI along with his anti-3D stance makes him pretty much the only A + director trying to maintain a traditional sense of analogue epic filmmaking. But he should chill out on the superheroes for now. For all my whining about how quickly they rebooted Spider-Man, I'm ready to embrace someone else's conception of what a Batman film can be. Inception was amazing, but my favourite of Nolan's films is The Prestige, his 2006 adaptation of Christopher Priest's heady book. I'd love to see him do something along these lines again. Or anything really. Cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead. He's earned it.
* Seen The Dark Knight Rises yet? Thoughts? What do you think Christopher Nolan should do next? Comment below!
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