I suppose it’s safe to say we’ve never seen an opening night like Dark Knight Rises, and I hope the actions of the crazed, lone gunman, James Holmes, don’t deter people from seeing this film, because despite its darkness and violence, it is a masterpiece. And I can assure you, Batman films did not and do not in any way encourage violent acts like those of James Holmes. The acts of Holmes are a result of serious mental illness, paranoia, isolation, ridiculously lax Colorado gun laws, and too much time for self-loathing assholes to convince themselves their life isn’t worth dick and the lives of others aren’t either…just another reason why Colorado is really Colonotsorado. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s review the film shall we?
When I found out I’d be in Bismarck, North Dakota on July 19th, I immediately called my cousin to make sure he got us tickets to see Dark Knight Rises at my favorite theater, the Pharaoh’s Theater at the Grand, at midnight on opening night. My cousin came through…or should I say his wife came through, picking up the tickets as soon as they went on sale.
My cousin didn’t get off work until 10:30, so after prepping our Nalgene bottle with Bacardi Limón and Coke and grabbing our Dots and Milk Duds, finding good seats was an impossibility. My cousin’s friend was supposed to get there early and save us seats, but by the time he got there, a little before 11:00, there weren’t four seats together. My cousin and I entered the side door where some Batman fans were smoking cigarettes.
The atmosphere in the theater was fucking incredible. There really is nothing like a Dark Knight opening night. I’ve been to each of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films on opening night, and they just keep getting better and better. I saw a cute little high school girl dressed up as Harley Quinn, a lot of Joker makeup, and a ton of Batman t-shirts. There was a Nolan Batman marathon that day in one of the smaller theaters, which I would have loved to see, but like I said, my cousin worked late. Plus, seeing the film in the huge theater with the maximum number of fanatics is the reason you stand in line for tickets, pay the extra money, and get there early. It’s all about the atmosphere. After seeing that we’d have to sit in the third row on the end, I did run over to the smaller theater to see if there were some better seats, and there were, but I’ve been to enough opening nights to know it’s perfectly acceptable to suffer through bad seats to see the film with the most like-minded people you can. I even told the cute girls in front of us the same thing, and they also decided to suffer with us, though the suffering didn’t last long.
There were five trailers, only two of which caught my attention. The rest I had seen before, though a Vince Vaughn line from the Neighborhood Watch trailer about pouring Scotch over ice (which I would never do…you always drink Scotch neat) made me scream “Drink,” and my cousin and I gulped booze. The trailer for Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner was actually really good. I was originally set on skipping it, but the trailer talked me into it. I like Matt Damon, but Jeremy Renner is the perfect replacement. I also saw the trailer for Expendables II, which was OK, but I’ll see that movie on opening night with my boys in Bozeman, Montana, and hopefully fight some trash talkers in the parking lot afterwards. Now that I’m off probation, I can beat the fuck out of shit-talkers who think I’m too loud at a movie. And just to be clear, you can never be too loud on opening night of an action film of epic proportion. If you want to see a movie in peace and quiet you shouldn’t attend opening night. Better yet, if you don’t want to take part in the experience with your fellow movie-goers, rent the movie and watch it at home. We don’t want you there if you’re going to be a party-pooper, and we’ll beat the shit out of you if you poop on our party.
Synopsis: After 8 years of peace and isolation, Bruce Wayne is forced to don the cape again and save Gotham City from Bane and the League of Shadows. Batman isn’t alone, as he persuades Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) to help him, and a young GCPD officer, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), discovers Batman’s identity and persuades him to come back. Together they fight Bane and the League of Shadows only to discover their own limitations and weaknesses.
When the movie started we had finished half our booze and were pretty tuned up. The audience was pretty well clapped out, having clapped after each trailer hoping the movie would start. When it did, the crowd was silent, and the film didn’t start with a particular bang – nothing comparable to the beginning of Dark Knight, but that’s hard to duplicate. We were introduced to who my cousin said would be the most exciting addition to the cast – Anne Hathaway as Catwoman – who is brilliant and sexy as hell. I was more excited about Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays police officer John Blake, and I’d say I was right to make that assumption. Blake was never in a Batman comic, but made an appearance in a Batman coloring book, and is an orphan like Bruce Wayne. Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors. I’ve loved him since Angels in the Outfield, and I’ve seen every episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. If you were to ask me if I was forced to have sex with a man who would it be, it’d be JGL. Anyways, Gordon-Levitt is the future of the Dark Knight saga, whether it’s as Nightwing or as the film not-so-subtly suggests, Robin. I’d take either.
I hope I’m not giving too much away. All I can say is the film is brilliant, and certainly a good reason why Christopher Nolan shouldn’t stop now. Though I thought the film could have been 20 minutes shorter, I wasn’t annoyed by the length or the slow start. I also love how Nolan quickly discovered Christian Bale makes a better Bruce Wayne than he does a Batman, even though Bale’s Batman has become less annoying. If you watch the previous films, Batman’s screen time progressively decreases, and this film is no exception. In fact, the film is more about Bruce Wayne than it is about Batman, and I like that because Bruce Wayne is human like the rest of us. Batman is just an idea…a symbol. I desperately wanted to see Bruce Wayne succeed without the toys and the cape, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Bane doesn’t even compare to Joker, but Nolan knows this and keeps his screen time to a minimum. The villainous plot is also rather predictable if you’ve ever read a Batman comic or played the recent video game, Arkham City, but that didn’t bother me either. This film is proof that Christopher Nolan is one of the best artists of my generation, which isn’t really saying much considering the lack of true artists recently. Take, for example, painting. Who’s the best painter of the last 20 years? I can’t even name one. How about the best writer? Stephen King? If Stephen King is the best writer of my generation I haven’t been working hard enough. The best songwriter? 2Pac. Nolan, in my book, has become bigger than Speilberg and Lucas because, in my book, he’s never failed. Every film he’s made I’ve loved.
When my cousin dropped me off at my aunt’s house, I asked him if Dark Knight Rises was better than The Avengers. He said, “I don’t know, but it was pretty fucking awesome.” The next day he texted me, ”Dark Knight Rises is better than Avengers. The Avengers is a movie. Dark Knight Rises is a film.” I love the distinction my cousin makes between movies and films because when I think of movies, I think of home movies. Anyone can make them, but a film has deep, artistic qualities pumping through it – plot, themes, character arcs, and life lessons. The Avengers may have been the biggest blockbuster movie of the summer, but Dark Knight Rises may be the biggest blockbuster film of all time. When I asked if it was better than Dark Knight, he texted, “I think it’s the best of the three.” Later that day he texted me again, “I just got tickets to Dark Knight Rises.” I guess it’s a damn good film if my cousin, who does have impeccable taste, is willing to pay to see it two days in a row.
THE VERDICT (94/100): See it in theaters now. See it in IMAX if you can. See it with a bunch of people. See it high, see it drunk, or see it sober. I’ll see it at least twice more in theaters, making Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy the only trilogy I’ve seen each film more than once in theaters, and the only trilogy I’ve seen each film on opening night. My new list of top comic book movies: 1) Batman, 2) The Dark Knight, 3) Dark Knight Rises, 4) X-men, and 5) Spider-man.