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So much anticipated, so much demanded, charged with so many expectations. What can an author deliver when he has stunned an audience that is usually fed with boredom and uninspired tales of superheroism by delivering something a tad darker, a tad more edgy, borderline intelligent, and is then thrown into the need of completing a cycle that must not be completed? Nolan has undoubtedly injected inspiration into blockbuster cinema with his interpretation of Batman as a human being with flaws and (physical as well as character) weakness. He has – together with his DP of trust and choice – delivered outstanding optical values in his movies. He has also created a critical and  audience response that is way beyond what the actual films reward, in my opinion. These are great pieces of entertainment, so much better than the regular Summer blockbuster products that bore the living daylights out of us every year. None of his Batman films is a “very good film” in my definition, but they are all well worth watching, refreshing in their approach, and I expect to enjoy seeing them again and again over the years. “Very good entertainment”, that’s what they are.

And now, did he find himself in that terrible dead end of a trilogy’s third part, where so many franchises died a miserable death and left the movie machinery as well as the audiences wondering whether third parts should not be outlawed by a globally implemented “Trilogy Impossibility Decree”? No, that did not happen with “The Dark Knight Rises”. But still, I felt the film feels burdened by so many needs that creativity suffered. Futile to wonder whether a different age certificate, a different director or script author would have been able to unleash the bonds that tied this one down. The Batman needs to be brought back, he needs to have a love interest, needs to show that he, at the end of the day, is one of the good guys, driven not mainly by his torn psyche and his damaged interpretation of social values (the way many of his adversaries are), but by his goodness, his moral integrity. In this film, he is – sorry – too good to be interesting. While this was offset in the previous “Dark Knight” by a nemesis that was meaner, more intelligent, more passionate and more torn, in the latest Dark Knight installment, such a creative center of the film is missing. Just a few moments ago I was wondering about why the martial arts film “Warrior” was worth seeing despite being just another variation on the “Rocky” theme. And the answer to this (“because they take both key opponents equally serious”) would have been the answer to making “The Dark Knight Rises” a much more interesting film.  As it is, even beloved Tom Hardy, who really plays the hell out of his Bane character despite the limited means of expression he is given, is not given this level of counter-gravity, because at the end of the day, he is just a mercenary without morale. The effort of de-superhero-izing Batman, for example by limiting the game of gadgets and having key set pieces directed as blunt fist fights, does not really pay off. The audience never doubts who the winner will be at the end of the day, and sadly (really the only moment where I was thoroughly disappointed with the film) was when after the grand finale, they get what they want. Without spoiling it, I can say that to me the film’s final scenes devalue the moral position of Batman and Bruce Wayne, devalue the importance the showdown’s finale would have had otherwise as an astounding act of sacrifice. As it is, the film ends on the low plateau of a Dan Brown novel, minus the parachuting priests.

All in all, I think “The Dark Knight Rises”  is as good as one could hope for, it is certainly not a let-down. Maybe I wished it would not exist, so that all the possibilities of a fallen Batman character could have kept floating the realm of imagination. I would guess Nolan is as relieved as I am that his mission is accomplished and he can turn towards new projects where characters and worlds can be created from scratch.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_dark_knight_rises/

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