SupermanEchols Reviews THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Christopher Nolan has finished his Bat-trilogy, but Is this final installment a worthy conclusion? Click for my take in this spoiler free review of The Dark Knight Rises..
Immersive is the best way to describe the world Christopher Nolan has built with his Batman films. No, these are not the most comic-accurate portrayals geeks and nerds worldwide could have hoped for when Batman was re-booted back in 2005, yet the Gotham that Nolan has crafted seems all so real and able to pull the audience in like no other director in recent memory has been capable of. As a fitting end to his Bat-trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises once again captivates the viewer and truly immerses you in the tragedy and triumph that Bruce Wayne endures as Gotham City’s savior.
The latest entry to the series picks up quite a bit of time after the events of The Dark Knight. Repercussions from Harvey Dent’s actions have directly impacted many of the main players. Gordon (Gary Oldman) holds the secret about the truth regarding Dent’s descent into evil, organized crime has all but diminished in the city and Bruce Wayne has retreated to his manor, effectively removing himself from active duty as the watchful protector of Gotham. A new threat however arises in the form of muscle-bound-mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy), and an intriguing cat-burglar (Anne Hathaway) is looking to pick the pockets of Gotham’s elite. After hearing about the devastation Bane is bringing to his city, Bruce is forced to decide if he should again take on the mantle of the Batman to face this foe head-on. Not wanting to see any more harm come to him, Alfred (Michael Caine) warns that going out again would ultimately be a death wish for Bruce. It is this decision that will put to test the limits of sacrifice Batman is willing to make in order to maintain Gotham’s peace.
Going into a lot more detail regarding the plot will ultimately be a disservice, as I believe there is still a lot to be discovered within the film, even for fans who’ve already seen every trailer or TV commercial leading up to its release. The story itself is actually quite simple to summarize, but it’s the characters within the story that make the plot so compelling. One of the standout performances that really hooked me was Joseph Gordon-Levitt as GCPD office John Blake. His idealistic beliefs may sound naïve, however he represents the good in the people of Gotham that Batman ultimately started his war on crime for. For me, both Levitt and Caine are the ones to watch in this installment. There is so much pain behind Alfred’s eyes, yet so much hope behind Blake’s.
Hardy’s Bane is vicious, just as I’d hoped. No, this is not a direct “straight-from-the-page” interpretation of the character, but like Nolan typically does, he’s fit a comic character in a somewhat real-world setting and made it work. Hardy’s size is quite impressive in some scenes, and his voice is unique, actually causing you to have more interest in his lines than if he’d just chosen a behemoth graveled-grunt for his vocal inflections. Hathaway is completely fitting in this role, despite what fans may have feared prior. No, this is not the Catwoman of the Burton-verse, however in the context of the film she is more utilitarian in dress and action than for show. She has a purpose, and her actions are meaningful and not simply storyline filler.
Looking back on the 3 films now, each is a different type of storytelling. Batman Begins was a character piece, driven by the themes of family and fear. The Dark Knight was a tale of chaos unleashed. It was in the vein of Michael Mann’s Heat, except a psychotic clown was thrown in amongst the mob tale. The Dark Knight Rises is a more visceral film. It is brutal in its action and consequences. This is a city under siege film and a bigger scale threat than the prior 2 movies put together. The best part of it all? It works as a fitting bookend to the story of Bruce Wayne’s journey as Batman. True, the individual stories stand on their own as great films, but in hindsight you can see this is a much larger picture encapsulating key points in Batman’s war on crime.
As complimentary as I’m being, no, this is in no way a film without flaws. There are quite a few moments where events that happen are too convenient or details of their occurrence are simply overlooked in order to move the story along at a brisk pace. It can be jarring if you’re looking to pick the film apart, but as a movie-going experience, I think most will find you are able to get past these as you lose yourself in the overall adventure. After all, films are an escapist-medium, one where you allow yourself to completely enter a world someone else has crafted for a few hours, and Nolan’s Gotham is one of the most well-developed cinema-verses in recent history.
Bottom line: This is EXACTLY how this series needed to end, with a bang, not a whimper. Nolan went all out with shooting much of the film in IMAX(how I saw it- breathtaking), giving Batman a truly brutal adversary to face, and bringing Bruce Wayne’s story full circle in a satisfying fashion.
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