Saw it Friday morning at 11:30, first regular show of the day. I thought it was excellent overall.
Sure, it was overstuffed and all over the place, but that's excactly what I was expecting, so I didn't mind. This is by the director that made The Dark Knight. That movie was balls deep in subplots and diversions. At least now, with this and Inception, he's figured out how to properly end a movie. Dark Knight's final confrontation with Two-Face always bugs the shit out of me and kills my moviebuzz.
My main criticism, on first viewing at least, is that a lot of events in the first 2/3 could have used a little more dramatic weight behind them. It felt like they were just a few editing/script tweaks away from achieving their full potential. Bane, in particular, really needed another scene or two to make a deeper impact. What Bane scenes were there were all great, though. This might be my favorite Tom Hardy performance. It's a pretty crazy through line for him, going from Bronson to Warrior to TDKR, getting huger and more brutal each movie. The dude is going to burst apart at the seems if he keeps going at this rate. Bring on Mad Max!
As for the voice, to me it sounded like they boosted and amped and EQ'd the shit out of it in the mix. With that, it would've been unnecesary to actually re-record the lines. It was an entirely necessary fix, as I caught maybe 1/3 of his words during the MI4 version of the prologue. After I saw that, I thought the performance was really cool, but was resigned to the fact that I'd have to wait for DVD subtitles to know what he was saying.
The vocal performance itself is pretty close to iconic. This is a villain that people are going to remember. Nearly every word out of the guy's mouthgrill is delicious. Favorite lines: "...with no SURVIVORS!", "Then why are you here?" to the stockbroker, and the entire Dent speach. For that one, I fucking loved how he seemed to keep going on and on even after the news crew runs away. The dude isn't about to let an empty street and lack of audience get in the way of a good speech. Also, seeing him on the Jumbotron was hilarious. Then he just kinda punks the mic to the ground when he's done talking. "Bane out, btiches."
Noteworthy parts of the theater experience:
-The guy behind me. For the "alligator" line, he whisper-yells to his girlfriend "KILLER CROC!". When Robin is revealed, he goes "OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!". Then, when it's over, he's the only one that starts clapping. It failed to start a trend. I was entheusiastic, sure, but I wasn't going to be the only other one doing it.
-To the guy letting his 5 year old and 3 year old boy run laps around the theater for half the movie: Thanks, bro. Thanks. I'm sure the other theater patrons would have all gladly donated a dollar each so you could hire a goddamn sitter.
-Digital projection of movies shot on film sucks. No way around it. I saw this on probably the biggest and best non-IMAX screen in Providence, with a Sony 4k projector. So, even though it was as good as it gets for digital (I assume), it still looked like crap to my aesthetically sensitive eyes. The contrast levels and blacks were weak, and the color pallete washed out and compressed looking. It wasn't enough to take away from my enjoyment of the actual movie, but still pretty damn far from ideal. I'll hopefully be seeing it in 70mm IMAX next week, which will be good, since I can relax and not anticipate what's going to happen next.
I've watched Begins and TDK again a few times recently, and while both are still fantastic, I give the slight edge to Begins. The more I watch Dark Knight, the more I hate how they handled Two Face. It almost kills the whole third act for me. Aaron Eckhart is great in other movies, but was just plain miscast here. Begins holds together more consistently because Neeson is always a champ. Anyways, I bring that up to say that I think Rises is at least as good as those two. I'll need a year or two to let it settle in, but as it is, I probably prefer it to TDK, just because of how much I love Bane.