Recently released on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, etc. (Dec. 4th, actually), Christopher Nolan’s fantastic The Dark Knight Rises arrives with more than a few lessons on ambitious movie-making and storytelling. Some critics—professional and amateur—have embraced this film for the thrill ride it is (or at least at times can be); others deride the film for being less about the Dark Knight and more about Bane and then Bruce Wayne. Still others have issues with the ending.
Without spending time picking apart or evaluating the merits of the film (as a film), I will say that what this movie offers—in terms of writing—is a brilliant example of a writer (or in this case writers) taking their time building story. In a word, the script is patient.
Driven by character, this film focuses on the man behind Batman, exploring Bruce Wayne’s journey that began with Batman Begins, continued through The Dark Knight, and now capped with this nearly three-hour story. Here, you find a thoughtful character study, rather than one bad-ass action sequence after another. This is perhaps one of the benefits of a trilogy—you can look to the other films for the heart-pounding sequences (not that this film doesn’t end with one). In fact, when you re-watch the first two, you will appreciate this film more. Subtle details in earlier films prove important here—things as simple as Wayne’s mother’s pearl necklace—and they provide a strong case for how well planned these three films were—they weren’t just tacked on because one made money and the second one made A LOT of money. Rather, when watching The Dark Knight Rises, I couldn’t help feeling how nice it was to relax and be encouraged to pay attention rather than assaulted with boom and bangs every two minutes.
Sure, there are some rough moments—a key character’s death scene, for example—but those are forgiven when you consider the scope and undertaking of these films. As a moviegoer and a writer, I appreciate how the events in The Dark Knight Rises take their time to unfold. All too often—in film as well as fiction/short stories—we are encouraged to get in and get going. Once in a while a work comes along that shows us that a slow burn can be just as effective as a big bang.