However! For those of you out there who are undecided on the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy (or are just interested in reading anything "Dark Knight Rises" related), I've written a completely spoiler-free guide to this summer's most anticipated movie.
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway and a whole lot more, "The Dark Knight Rises" picks up where its predecessor, "The Dark Knight," left off: Harvey Dent is dead, the city is at peace, and Batman is Public Enemy Numero Uno.
So how does "TDKR" stack up with previous Batman flicks? Let's take a look.
PRO: The epic scenes in "The Dark Knight Rises" are more epic than the epicness of the epic "The Dark Knight" You'd think after two very good (and very successful) Batman movies that Nolan would finally run out of things to blow away the audience with. Wrong! In addition to several edge-of-your-seat sequences, the director makes sure to add in plenty of death-defying, explosion-filled moments.
PRO: This ain't your grandpa's Alfred In this film, Bruce Wayne's loyal caretaker isn't just relegated to door-opening duty. Instead, we get a much more emotional Alfred, one who's more parent than butler. Alfred has always been Bruce's conscience; bringing him up, inspiring him when things got too tough. This time around, Alfred is less the sage mentor that we've seen before; he and his master are keeping pace with each other -- for better or worse.
CON: There are way too many characters You knew this was going to be a potential problem from the very beginning. As star after star joined Christopher Nolan's finale, you could feel the story becoming more and more bloated (perhaps a PRO within this CON is that the director somehow manages to keep it all together without managing to have everything crumble to the ground). This is the full list of extremely talented actor/A-list celebs involved in this movie: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, Marion Cotillard AND Michael Caine. Yeah, that's a whole lot of fire power. Unfortunately, there's not enough room -- even in a 165-minute movie -- to get everyone involved in a meaningful way.
PRO: The score This goes less for the music and more for the nightmarish sound effect created by Hans Zimmer -- the one that plays over and over again during the trailer: a choppy, cult-like chant, which sticks in your head long after the movie is over (seriously, I am getting sick of hearing it now, and the film ended, like, six hours ago).
PRO: A story that comes full circle It shouldn't come as a surprise, but this film is far from a standalone property. By the end, Christopher Nolan's plot has connected with the one he introduced in 2008's "Batman Begins."
PRO: A story that has some major plot twists Despite an all-encompassing marketing campaign, full of trailers, TV spots, posters and what have you, you'd expect this film to have been completely spoiled to the general public by now. Thankfully, that's not the case, as Nolan still manages to pull off a few I-didn't-see-that-coming moments before the credits roll.
CON: The football scene There is actually nothing wrong with this sequence at all -- in fact, it's one of the best parts of the movie -- however, from a sports' perspective, it completely insults the fans of Gotham: every aerial shot of the game shows the stadium about 25-percent full. For a professional football team playing during the regular season, it appears that either a) the Gotham Knights are absolutely horrible, or b) that the city doesn't give a crap about their football team. Considering that the mayor himself shows up at this game, I'd assume b.
PRO: Tom Hardy Let's tackle the 10-ton elephant in the room: no, Tom Hardy's Bane is nowhere near as good as Heath Ledger's Joker. However, it comes about as close as you can get (which is to say, not really all that close) to the late Oscar winner's performance. Hardy plays Bane with the foreboding presence a villain -- especially one from this trilogy -- deserves. When he and Batman fight, you actually feel like Hardy is the Dark Knight's contemporary, instead of some lackluster bad guy -- and one who the audience knows doesn't have a shot in hell of beating Gotham's unsung hero.
CON: Tom Hardy's voice Ah, yes, the infamous voice! The one every movie blogger made an absolute stink over when the teaser footage from last December debuted, and featured Bane sounding like he had a wet blanket duct-taped over his mouth. Here, those problems are virtually non-existent. Instead, what this con is actually about is the volume of Bane's voice. Perhaps it was the screening I was in -- and perhaps it's a bit trivial of me to be fretting over such topics -- but when Tom Hardy's villain begins shouting threats at Batman, it's completely amplified over the rest of his co-stars.
PRO: The gadgets Guns, vehicles bombs -- nothing is off the table in this final go-round. Although most of the gadgets are normally reserved for Bruce Wayne's alter-ego, Bane ends up having a few spy-nerd tricks up his sleeve, too.
PRO/CON: The pacing This movie moves a mile a minute. Sometimes that works to Nolan's advantage, as he moves from one awesome sequence to another in the blink of an eye. On the other hand, it doesn't always give the audience a chance to breathe. A second viewing is highly recommended to be able to digest the last Batman movie in the director's trilogy.