Big rant coming this way...
I only have one question. Where is Christopher Nolan? I'd like to know so I can ask him who the fuck he thinks he is, and who he thinks Batman is, because I thought he had an idea. Now, I know he hasn't. Fair enough, his brother and Goyer have a lot to answer for as well, but let's have a look at a few things...
First off, Gotham in Batman Begins was perfect. What seems to have been overlooked is the fact that Gotham is a character of it's own. This shone through in Batman Begins. Hell, it even did in Burton's Batman films and Batman Forever (to an extent) This was dropped in The Dark Knight. I was hoping because Nolan wanted it to be seen less as Batman's turf and more like the Joker's playground. I always had that belief, and I thought it worked. Now, you could argue that it was a more realistic and regular city in TDKR because it makes it seem more shocking that he's doing this to a real city, but I don't believe that. The transition from BB to TDK & TDKR was "Gotham City" to "Random city called Gotham" to, well, the same again.
Onto the characters. Bane was brilliant. Fucking fantastic. Until the painfully obvious twist that it's in fact Talia's who's behind it all. I know it wouldn't be obvious to someone who doesn't read the comics, but I feel offended that as a reader of Batman comics that I've essentially been ignored as far as the "audience" goes. I kinda feel cheated too. So, if it's Talia's plan n everything, then Bane has once again been relegated to intimidating thug. Not the mastermind he actually is. Thanks guys, loved that.
I've heard a lot of both negative and positive shit about Catwoman, and all I can say is that the performance was great. It's probably the most faithful adaptation of any of the characters in the Nolanverse, so I applaud that. She was, as Bruce Willis once famously said "...[she's] a fly in the ointment [...], a monkey in the wrench, a pain in the ass..." No doubt that she's the most spot-on adaptation of a character they've picked. Except for the fact that she wants out. Catwoman would never want out. What she does is simply too much fun for her.
I wasn't at all happy with Blake. Like Ramirez should have been Montoya, and the guy from LA Noire should've been Bullock, he should've been someone else. The Question, Tim Drake, anyone. Random character with a quite frankly silly reference to Robin thrown in? No thank you. He wasn't a character that was needed, wasn't at all relevant. Catwoman could easily have filled in the role of someone who cares about the orphans and keeps her ear to the streets, and he could've just been a detective working alongside Gordon. His little pep talk to Bruce was shite as well. Whilst JGL put in a good performance, Blake just wasn't a good character at all, and I've seen too many of the exact same character model in the comics. I mean, for fuck sake, it would've made so much sense for him to be that little kid from Begins, but just a random character they've decided is going to be the next Batman? That's just fucking laughable. Wouldn't have made the ending what it is you say? Don't get me started. Not yet.
It just seems that, amidst all Nolan's bitching about what he would and wouldn't do, he's just made himself look like a massive tit. He doesn't want to use villains that've already appeared in a Batman film? Did he miss Batman Returns and Batman & Robin? He also said he wouldn't want to over-saturate the film with villains like they did in Spider-Man 3 because of what it'd take away from the focus of the story and other characters. So, what, other minor characters are okay to steal precious screen time? The number of utterly useless characters was a sheer joke, and I again feel like I've been cheated. Cheated out of seeing the film that I went to see. I only hope that Nolan's involved in a potential sequel just for the sake of getting the cast back together. Other than that, I say good riddance.
Alfred's characterisation got ballsed up too. Yes, he left during the KnightFall saga, but he realised (thanks to a little help from Nightwing) that he had to come back, and was wrong to leave Bruce. The fact that he left and only came back for Bruce's memorial is a slap in the face of one of comic book's greatest characters and unsung heroes. Fox had a role just as small and insignificant too. His involvement almost seemed forced. I know that in certain ways he's needed, but it felt like he, Alfred, and even Gordon at times were an afterthought. Almost as if Nolan was essentially just doin his own film, and just using Batman characters to fill in roles.
Combining the Lazarus Pit and Santa Prisca Prison was a pretty decent idea, I'll give them that. I don't like the fact that they replaced Bane with Talia as the little kid who grew up in the prison though. Yes, it made sense that it was Talia. I'm not arsed that it was Talia. I'm more arsed about it not being Bane. If anything, it should've been a case of Bane not wanting her to succumb to the same fate that he did, so he climbed out of it with her holding onto his back. They just took so much away from Bane that it was almost heartbreaking.
The ending... The ending spat in the face of Batman. They thought they were wrapping up the legend of Batman in a satisfying way. Yes, it is a satisfying way to wrap up the legend of Batman, but it wasn't right. Not at all. He did three things. Three huge things, but is that seriously it? This film would've been a great conclusion if it was a fifth, sixth, ninth, or tenth film, whatever. A great way to end an illustrious career as a hero/saviour/whatever, but seriously? That's it? And the point has been made on several occasions that Bruce Wayne is Batman until he dies. Not retire. Neil Gaiman wrote it quite well. He isn't just going to retire and spend the rest of his days playing golf. Death is the only natural conclusion for him, and then somebody (Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, whichever) take over.
And how exactly do you expect to wrap up the (Bruce Wayne as) Batman legend without the Joker? Yes, Christopher, we all feel sorry for you that you lost a great friend in Heath Ledger. You think that we liked losing arguably one of, if not the best adaptation of the Joker? (I don't care what anyone says, Mark Hamill is good as the Joker, but Ledger took it to a whole other level) No, course we didn't, but it's something he needed to get over to give Batman a satisfying conclusion. Even if he was just let loose for the last half hour of the bomb's countdown to slow Batman down, he should've been there, and the fact that he wasn't just proves that the whole team behind the series lost their way.
The perfect solution to all the negativity would've been something Nolan didn't want. More films. Dent should've become Two-Face at the very end of TDK and carried over to a third film, as originally intended. Talia should've been introduced in the third film as a background character, to build up the grand reveal in the TDKR. You can't throw anyone off in the space of a film, it just doesn't work. Dick Grayson should've been involved, even if he was just Batman's eyes and ears on the streets. It should've been him to take over from Bruce in the end. Not some random arse character who's not even had any significant training outside the police academy. They just got so much shit wrong, and I blame us. The guys who praised BB & TDK. WB ended up putting too much faith in Nolan, almost as if he had free reign to do whatever he wanted.
Don't get me wrong, as far as films go, TDKR has a very good and very satisfying conclusion. But not for a Batman film. That ending would've worked well in a number of possible projects. Like I said though, it's almost as if Nolan had a film project in the works, and just applied Batman characters to it. Great, great ending. Wrong film. Besides that, it just reeked of the final episode of House.
I can't deny for a second though that I think the film was a clever mixture of The Dark Knight Returns, KnightFall, and No Man's Land. I thought it'd mainly be KnightFall, and I'm glad I was wrong. And the fanboy inside me couldn't help smiling this huge, cheesy grin when I saw Batman return in the first act. Actually, every time Batman was on screen, it was a great moment. I actually can't believe how well they did it, he had a hell of a lot more presence than he ever has done in any other film. Absolutely brilliant. Again though, as with every Batman film, he wasn't in it enough. It's almost as if people don't know how to make a film that focuses on Batman. Not Bruce Wayne, not the villains, not the supporting cast, I'm talking Batman.
The fight scenes also impressed me. I was very surprised that Nolan recognised that it's something he needed to work on (can't remember if it was Kenny, Joe Pesci, OL or Clint who mentioned how bad they were in the previous two) but I reckon he made up for it somewhat anyway. Loved how brutal Bane looked as well in the first fight with Batman. I woulda liked to have seen more damage on Bruce afterwards, that kinda disappointed me. The second fight didn't make much sense either. Bane almost seemed like he was pulling his punches. It would've made a hell of a lot more sense if they brought back the fear factor for Begins, set it at night, and Batman actually does put the fear of God into Bane through a mixture of his League of Shadows training and his old friends... Bats. Again, the fanboy inside me almost leapt for joy when the bats appeared as he crawled out of Santa Prisca, but I was hugely disappointed that they never expanded on the use of bats. Especially after how well they were used in BB, as they were completely absent from TDK. They shoulda used em more.
But yeah, there were plenty of absolutely brilliant moments in the film, and I wouldn't even consider calling it anything other than a really good film, but as the third Batman film in the Nolan series, it's shite. Like I said, it should've been Batman 5, 6, 9 or 10. The way I see it is that Begins was the best Batman film, TDK was the best film of the series, and TDKR as the best standalone film, whilst also being the worst in the series.
In conclusion, it would've been a brilliant ending to the Nolan series if more films preceded it, but they didn't, so as far as the over-arching story goes, the timing was woeful. It was rushed. Out of place. Whatever. It didn't work well like that. If you just ignore that though, and only take the in-film references into consideration, it was fucking fantastic, and a great amalgamation of three classic Batman stories.
So, whilst I'm distraught about the decision to cut everything so short in a manner such as this, I also come away from the film feeling that I got real value for money. Great film, but from the standpoint of a Batman fan(boy) and geek, totally and utterly wrong.
Rant over for now, but when I see it again, I'll probably have more to say. Oh, and somebody actually read this and reply to it, coz I've been typing this since I got back from the pictures and it'll otherwise seem like a massive waste of time.