(This review is entirely devoid of spoilers, unless you count me mentioning how the first scene of the movie starts, that it has action in it and a guy named Bane as spoilers, though if you do you’re now already spoiled so read on ahead anyway. Full version is HERE, where the actual spoilers are still hidden, just in case.)
“Why do we fall, Sir?” Why does every review start with that question? Perhaps because it plays in perfectly with the plot of the film and obviously with its title. I think though that in constantly repeating this one old question – it has now become Batman’s “With great power…” – we are missing out on an important new one, “Why do we rise?” and more specifically, why would Batman and where to?
There are other important things to be found and not found in the films title; among them a certain number, three. Though it may only be the second Dark Knight title and lacking any visible three this movie is undoubtedly the third act of a trilogy and plays out as such; it wraps back around to reference past events while simultaneously wrapping up the future of the franchise with a fitting finale. Though it’s also very much a trilogy of its own, or at least tackles enough new material to be one; what begins as a small character drama blows up into a mid-scale corporate conspiracy then continues to grow and grow into a bigger conflict as the months whir by, exponentially brief, much bigger than Batman himself. The film then is at least structured in a more traditional sense, wherein which everything is building towards the big third act rather than aping, as its predecessor did, a rollercoaster with a series of scales and spills. Unfortunately though despite its obvious strengths this third act undercuts so much of what made the first two special, both within the individual film and the trilogy as a whole.
So we rise because people expect escalation in their entertainment, they want bigger and they want better; but The Dark Knight was seen by many as the biggest and best superhero film ever made (myself included). So if the series had already risen to nefarious heights then where could it go but down? What could it do but fall? And that is just what The Dark Knight Rises almost definatively does; though what is still up for debate is whether it is a drop measured in inches or miles? Is it a drop that the series and its star could possibly survive?