Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
(2018 Summer Blockbuster Movie Series)
The epic conclusion to Director Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.
With the enormous landmark success of 2008's The Dark Knight, Nolan had the impossible task of trying to top one of the best action movies ever made with this third chapter. While he did manage to up the stakes, several issues including the story being bloated, and not sticking the ending were major draw backs.
The most frustrating part about the movie is the ending, where Nolan had no faith that his Batman audience could handle a slightly ambiguous conclusion. Throughout the whole film he carefully gives us each piece of the puzzle, with Alfred wanting to see Bruce happy by seeing him one day in a cafe in Florence, and how they clearly say that Bruce fixed the auto pilot feature in the Bat Wing. With that information the final shot of the film should have been Alfred looking straight into the camera and nodding before cutting to black. This shot would be perfectly setup up with how Batman appears to be dead after the atomic bomb explosion, and we get this emotional speech about his legacy from Commissioner Gordon combined with Hans Zimmer's amazing score peaking our emotions. But instead Nolan felt the need to show that Bruce was fine and dandy chilling with Catwoman, and then we end with Robin entering the Bat cave???? I know Nolan was capable of an ambiguous ending, because that is exactly what he did in his film 'Inception', and it worked great. This correction would have made for the perfect ending to this fantastic Batman trilogy grounded in reality.
I get that coming out off The Dark Knight, Batman in this story is coming back from semi retirement. Nolan does a great job of showing off how beat up he got during his prime crime fighting days, with his trip to the doctor that points out the impact concussions have had, all scaring across his shoulders, and the special brace that he will need to walk. That being said, making us wait a full 45 minutes before we see him on screen as Batman was a bit much. But I did get some serious chills when he finally does make his appearance in the tunnel by taking out a few members of Bane's crew, as Zimmer's score cranks up with the Dark Knight back in action. While awesomely bombastic the Dark Knight score is, I do have to acknowledge that Zimmer pounds us to the point to of exhaustion this time around, causing it to overwhelm the sound design and dialogue at times.
A scene where the music is used subtly to create a chilling moment is during the National Anthem at the football game right before Bane begins his reign of terror, and we get those fantastic shots of the stadium and city's bridges exploding. This time New York is the setting of Gotham, in order for everyone to be trapped on an island once the bridges are blown.
With Heath Ledger's Joker being one of the all time great villain performances in a super hero film, Tom Hardy had some big shoes to fill being the films dominant villain. Once you get past that slightly hard to her Darth Vadar voice of his, I would say he does a great job at being this powerful force that can put a pounding on Batman and throw the city into anarchy.
I thought it was really clever how Bane's plot to punish the wealthy elite of Gotham hinted back to the social politics of the time with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Bane then exposes the Harvey Dent cover up and allows the prisoners to take control of the city, which makes way for that massive final battle scene against the Gotham police force that gives this final chapter the feel of a war movie.
The Rachael Dawes character being gone created the perfect opportunity to bring in a new love interest, and Anne Hathaway nails that as the very seductive jewel thief Catwoman. I like how complex her character is with working with Bane, while also being drawn to help Batman. Plus she is smoking hot in her suite riding the Bat-Pod, but her fighting did look a little over choreographed.
While Catwoman rocks the Bat-Pod with some great new tricks, Bat man takes to the sky in his best vehicle yet with the Bat Wing. I just love that sequence where he soars over the heads of the over zealous cops who decide to go after him and let Bane get away. But the real highlight is when we get some fantastic aerial dog fighting action between the sky scrapers of Gotham with Bane's men firing missiles they took from the Wayne applied technologies warehouse.
Despite all this great Bat action on an epic scale, the story is way too drawn out. Instead of a Batman focused movie it ends up mostly being about Bruce Wayne finding himself again, first after coming out of hiding to face Bane, and then to rise up out of the ancient prison he is put in to go save the city. In order for this prison part to work they unfortunately turned Alfred into a plot device, who disappears during the second act because he has a falling out with Bruce about him becoming Batman again. This just goes against everything the Alfred character is about, and was a bit frustrating but necessary in order for batman to be banished. Having the whole League of Shadows element resurface was an interesting way to book end the trilogy. But Ra's al Ghul daughter appearing at the last minute to be a surprise additional villain was a bit tacked on.
Nitpicks aside Director Christopher Nolan did an amazing job capping off his three Batman movies in the biggest way possible, thus concluding one the best trilogies in action movie history.
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching.... SKOL!