The Dark Knight Rises - Review
Review of the new film The Dark Knight Rises starring Christian Bale , Tom Hardy , Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine.
The Dark Knight Rises - Review
Christopher Nolan shocked and rocked the world when he breathed new life into the once dead and dormant “Batman” film series, after the colossal disappointment that was “Batman and Robin” seemed to bury it forever. First “Batman Begins” set the stage, then “The Dark Knight” wowed us with the grand spectacular comic book movie that blew everyone’s expectations away, and now the curtain closes on Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy with his final (at his own admission) Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” Superhero movies have a history of crippling their respectful franchises with their third installments; can Nolan break the disappointing cycle with this even darker take on Batman’s history? You’re about to find out. Taking place 8 years after “The Dark Knight,” Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has retired both his identities to a life of reclusion, cutting the world out while it enjoys 8 years of crime free peace thanks to officers like Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Officer Blake (Joseph-Gordon Levit). However, a new storm of disasters befall Gotham City thanks to the rise of savage criminal mastermind Bane (Tom Hardy) and expert jewel thief Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
Now Batman must protect the city he’s been hiding from for 8 years before it is destroyed in the epic chaos Bane plans to drive it into, and Batman must face more than masked criminals and police officers in order to save the city and himself. First of all you have to say that trying to follow “The Dark Knight” is nearly impossible, it’s an act that set the bar so high that not even its own creator could surpass even with everything at Nolan’s disposal. That may be true but it doesn’t mean this film was disappointing by any means. “Rises” is truly the last epic final chapter in this Batman’s history and not only that, but it feels like its own epic story by itself even without connecting the first two Batman movies (which they do many times and did well maintaining their focus on continuity). This movie has so much story, so many different winding events that keep growing in scale and excellence with each passing scene, it climbs higher and higher, raising the stakes and the impressiveness of the film with each step. The film doesn’t just restrict itself to Batman; it features so many other characters that are shown to be true 3-dimensional characters and not just useless side material. Everyone feels important here and everyone feels real and interesting.
For example, Levit’s policemen character takes as much of the spotlight as Bale/Batman does and it works out beautifully because it gives the film’s scope and story a much broader point of view, making every character valuable and necessary. The film captures some incredible visual action scenes, again, not topping “Dark Knight’s” but still impressive none the less; such as Bane’s “explosive” introduction to Gotham’s football stadium, Batman bringing in the new Batwing jet, and an epic brawl at the climax between armies of cops and convicts slugging it out alongside Batman and Bane. Bale I think gives his best performance out of all 3 films here, Bruce Wayne has never looked as fully fleshed out in the past two films. We see Bruce broken, revitalized, defeated, angry, hopeful, in love and among many other well represented emotional sides. Tom Hardy as Bane is physically daunting, his unique voice with the character makes him sound strange at times but he remains savage and intimidating in ways Heath Ledger’s Joker could not. Certainly a colossal step up from the awful Bane we had the displeasure of seeing in “Batman and Robin.” Anne Hathaway was not a universally acclaimed choice as Catwoman when the cast was announced but she managed to pull it off in this film, maintaining the balance between good, evil and something in-between.
She had a lot more strength and depth than I expected and her outfit actually works well with her stunts and appearance. My only complaint with Catwoman was we needed more of her, she didn’t feel as involved enough as the film’s second villain and I think she was underused by Nolan. The film is also full of some very interesting surprises; the formula in this film feels more erratic than the first two but never to the point of annoyance or confusion. It keeps the film on edge and in suspense, hardly anything feels predictable here and the surprises continue to escalate in terms of severity and placement.
This movie is nearly 3 hours long and it doesn’t waste a minute of it, this feels like a true finale to a trilogy, it brings everything and everyone full circle in a way that makes the story truly feel complete. There’s total resolution of the story and its characters, and at the same time, there is little bits here and there leaving some room open for future installments; just in case. The only real problem with this movie in my opinion is the one flaw that could never and will never be corrected: its predecessor. As I said in the beginning, “The Dark Knight” was flawless in its execution and while nothing in this last film feels second rate, it’s evident that you just don’t feel the same sense of amazement and awe you got from the last film. Nolan’s trump card was his second Batman film; there was nothing else up his sleeve that could truly surpass the achievements he blew us away with in the second movie. It’s kind of hard to knock a director for not beating his previous work but at the same time, it’s kind of hard not to notice it and compare it either. “Dark Knight Rises” is not better than “The Dark Knight”, but everything else about is unfolds to a solid win-win. Actors, storytelling, action, final resolution, Batman concludes with a satisfying and celebratory work of art that gives a proud final farewell to the Dark Knight’s trilogy.