director: Christopher “Don’t Ever Question Me Again” Nolan
starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Modine
I’m a sucker and Christopher Nolan is smarter than me. First impressions of anything can be important and can often be right on the money, but they’re also dangerous, susceptible to myriad external factors like one’s state of mind, their environment and their preconceptions going into a given situation. Such is the case for me with Rises, a movie I was angrily disappointed with after an initial viewing in a small theater with merely adequate sound fidelity on a Thursday evening after a long workday. This revisionist review is not meant to excuse the flaws that still exist, but a second viewing did much to minimize them, to the point I’m now pleased enough to give it an A-.
pacing problems all but vanished but, whereas I though of the film as bloated upon an initial viewing, I now think it could’ve used another 15-20 minutes to iron out some of the problems I have with the often abrupt plotting. But, everything works better upon a second viewing — there is more subtlety at work in the pacing and portrayal of passing time, and I was able to be swept up in the story without having a “WTF” reaction every time the timeline advanced.
Like I said in my initial review, bad dialogue can be overcome when it’s balanced with great action, scoring and acting. That dialogue stood out on the first viewing’s smaller screen but was overcome easily by the blow-your-pants-off aural experience in IMAX. Keep telling us “a storm is coming” all you want; just accompany said score with state of the art sound.
Speaking of sound and the score; with the enhanced fidelity of IMAX, the score no longer overwhelms the dialogue or storytelling, instead enhancing it and raising the film to the level it finally gave me my rousing, “lump in the throat” moment during the film’s climax.
I beg you not to see this film unless you see it on IMAX first. I’m not sure if it’s an indictment of the filmmaking process or of the current state of modern theater-going, but the IMAX experience of Rises blows the puny “regular” screen experience out of the water. I laugh when I see the “GO BIG OR GO HOME” ads now present in front of movies in regular theaters. Film industry, you’re losing money to piracy and poor theater attendance because the theater experience doesn’t match what any sap like me can do with a good sound system and big HDTV. The exception is with IMAX, replicatable only if you’ve got a few hundred thousand bucks burning a hole in your pocket. IMAX’s experience can’t be matched, particularly in the sound department. As I’ve oft opined in my reviews over the years, sound is 50% of the experience, and the vast majority of theaters these days are sorely lacking in that department.
I still have my issues with the film, but perhaps my expecting Rises to be an A+ contributed to my disappointment after round 1. The issues are still there as I outlined in Thursday’s review, but they don’t create enough cracks to render the film as unsuccessful as I once judged it. That said, I still absolutely loathe the reveal shot of Wayne and Selina Kyle at movie’s end — keeping the shot to just Alfred’s reaction would’ve had me over the moon with satisfaction.
Nolan is a far better directory and filmmaker at work in Rises than I gave him credit for, and I am only too pleased to be able to say that after feeling let down. I now consider Nolan’s capper to his Batman story a successful one, a worthy entry that cements the trilogy as one of the greats in film history. I’m more relieved than anything that I liked it as much as I did the second time around; relief that will give way to unbridled enthusiasm and rousing excitement upon repeated viewings in the theater over the coming weeks. Nolan has triumphed once again.