Though it's normally best to get straight to the point with reviews The Dark Knight Rises (hereafter refered to as TDKR) presents something of a quandary. How do you jump right in to speaking about this particular film when Christopher Nolan's last Batman film has so long ceased being "just a movie". So we begin with a three part preface...
What?!? Nolan can blow seven reels of a non-origin Batman film before Bruce suits up and you object to me blathering on for three paragraphs before I review the movie? Double standards!
First, I believe that Michelle Pfeiffer's performance as Catwoman is one of the greatest performances of the 1990s, the very definition of what an actor can do when they understand their auteur's vision, get the heightened play of specific entertainment genres, and are capable of imaginative stylization. It pissed me right off that people tried to pretend that no one before Heath Ledger had ever delivered Oscar worthy work within the comic book genre. So Batman Returns is my favorite Batman movie (yes, I know it has flaws. Shut up) and I entered the movie naturally resistant to Anne Hathaway's Catwoman.
Second, I saw the movie alone on Saturday, the morning after it opened. I failed to convince any of my friends to go with me and wasted my second ticket. To my great shame even though I think it's stupid to let fear change your routines (I was on a plane exactly a week after 9/11 as scheduled) I did briefly find myself thinking about where the exits were* against my will and flinched at the frequent gun battles in the movie. When I returned from the movie a friend snarkily asked me "So was is worth risking your life?" and I wanted to punch him. In a non violent way. See, every movie is worth risking your life for because movies are totally safe. Movies do not kill people, people do. People with access to firearms especially which is a lot of people given our nation's embarrassingly pro-tragedy gun laws.
*I'm super happy to report that I've been to the movies twice after this and never once thought of this.
This is a LOT of baggage to take into a movie already. I get that. And then there's the small matter of my teflon resistance to understanding the genius of Chris Nolan and residual frustration with fanboy culture that demands that I do. I was discussing the push and pull between mandated blockbuster movie culture and blogging demands last week with Rob, a reader, on facebook who paid me the nicest compliment:
I like the balance you strike. Sorta: this is here, can't ignore it, we're all gonna see it, Christian Bale is gonna sound funny, and we move on.