(NOTE: It's obviously difficult to discuss THE DARK KNIGHT RISES with any sense of gravity after the unfathomable tragedy that took place in Colorado Friday night. But I do want to discuss my unfiltered reaction to the film, so please forgive any sense of hyperbole this post will have in the context of such real-life horror).
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is the crown jewel of the Nolan Batman trilogy. Many critics and fans are claiming that it doesn't come near the greatness of THE DARK KNIGHT, but I'm honestly ready to admit that it surpasses it with ease. It doesn't have the instant entertainment value of TDK, nor is it as iconic, but TDKR is a more challenging and impressive film on just about every level. It is a grim, elegiac, and beautiful pop masterpiece. It may be the darkest blockbuster of its kind ever made. Nolan has taken our current economic and sociopolitical fear and created a disturbing mirror for our own society unlike any I've ever seen in such a mainstream film. It's vision of modern chaos and corruption is more palpable than any action film; its ambiguity and ambition more complex than any superhero film ever made. It is, in a word, marvelous. I couldn't possibly praise it enough.
I'm really glad it is dividing some critics and fans, as I think it is far too challenging a film to be universally embraced. It's dramatic ambitions alone are bound to be offputing to those simply looking for the fun and jauntiness of your average summer blockbuster (or hell, even of TDK). It's a profound film that unrelentingly pursues its themes, burying you down deep in the mire only to deliver one of the most spectacular and satisfying conclusions to a trilogy in film history. I really wish Andrew Sarris were still alive to see it, as I think he would have undoubtedly loved its ambition and obsessiveness.
Anyway, perhaps I'll do a real review for the film soon. I just wanted to get the word out that I was floored by the film, and found it to far exceed every expectation I had for it. It is a truly moving, terrifying, and utterly thrilling experience.
(P.S. Tom Hardy's Bane is incredibly menacing and legitimately scary. He is one hulking mass of a monster. And Anne Hathaway is very terrific and lovable as Selina Kyle. Though it can't boast a performance as strong as Ledger's Joker, I think TDKR has got great character work across the board. And ultimately I think it's just the most coherent, natural, and well-written Batman film to date. It is not a perfect film, but it is very, very impressive).