DURF Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
I review the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. So is it the epic conclusion we all hoped it would be? Read and find out... (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Well, it’s finally here. The “epic conclusion” to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It is the movie that has been 4 years in the making and, along with “The Avengers”, has been the most anticipated movie of the year. That movie is “The Dark Knight Rises”, but is it as epic as advertised? Or is it a disappointment? Or something in between? Well, read on to find out…
(WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!)
The cast for this movie is solid, and it might be the best overall cast of the trilogy. All of the acting is superb. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very good as Detective John Blake and does a good job of convincing us that his character cares and really wants to make Gotham a better place. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are brilliant as always as Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon respectively. Michael Caine, although under-utilized this time, is fantastic as Alfred Pennyworth. Although she doesn’t do much for most of the movie, Marion Cotillard does a good job as Miranda Tate. However, there are 3 performances that stand above the rest in this movie: Bane, Selina Kyle, and Bruce Wayne/Batman. Bane is played magnificently by Tom Hardy, who gives Bane a real since of menace and makes him feel like an intimidating figure. More on him later. Anne Hathaway is great as Selina Kyle, who is never called Catwoman. She plays her with a certain elegance and sophistication, and really does make you feel like Selina is complex and has complex motives. Even though she isn’t nearly as sexy as Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, she does a good job of being sexy as well in the movie. Overall, it’s a very good performance. Christian Bale stands out as Bruce Wayne/Batman, finally. Although he has done a very good job in the first 2 movies, he has always been overshadowed by someone else. Not in this one. He does a brilliant job of conveying the emotional and physical agony that Bruce has gone through and does go through in this movie. It really feels genuine that Bruce is progressing and becoming stronger through the hell he goes through early on in the movie. You also really can feel that he truly is the hero Gotham deserves and needs at this point, and that he is willing to give everything to save Gotham. It is a truly great performance, and Bale’s best one yet as Bruce/Batman.
So, what else besides the brilliant cast is good about this movie? Well, the action is absolutely the best of the trilogy and blows away the first 2 films away in that department. The arc of Bruce Wayne/Batman is very good and you legitimately see him grow in this movie to complete his trilogy long transformation in to the great hero that is Batman is very well done. Hans Zimmer’s score is fantastic as always and really sets the mood beautifully for the movie. The Batsuit is very nice in this and a lot of costumes are pretty nice as well. John Blake actually being Robin is kind of cool, as is having Talia al Ghul in the movie. I also really like the fact that this movie brings everything full circle back to “Batman Begins” by including references to it and “The Dark Knight”, as well as wrapping up some lingering storylines. The climax is great and the ending has some good things about it, like Batman finally being recognized as a great hero and getting his own statue, as well as Alfred’s part(s), and the fact that Bruce ends up with Selina. Bane was a very good villain for the most part, but again, more on that later. There are some truly awesome moments and scenes in the movie. Bane breaking Batman’s back admittedly gave a nerdgasm. Also Bruce’s discussion with the doctor in the prison and realization of what he must do to escape the pit, as well as the actual escape, is fantastic. Another very cool moment is when during the final battle Batman takes control and starts to beat on Bane and is winning. That scene is just fantastic. Also, Dr. Crane’s cameo is fantastic.
However, there are some things that do drag this movie down some. There are several pointless characters, such as Selina’s sidekick, Daggett and his stooge, and Foley (who just ends up being a huge jerk). None of those characters really have a point and go nowhere. All the twists are predictable, and the fact that Miranda is really Talia is one of the worst kept secrets in movie history. It’s a minor gripe, but Selina is never called Catwoman. Batman and Alfred are both barely in the movie. There are major plot holes, such as, why would Bane and Talia wait 5 months to detonate the bomb when they had the detonator the whole time? Another one would be how does Blake know who Batman is? Also, how do we go from Bruce and Talia not being involved romantically at all to them having sex? Or why are Selina and Bruce suddenly in love at the end? Did we miss something? The ending is unbelievable sequel baiting for a sequel we won’t be getting, and a slap to the face of the fans. Ra’s al Ghul’s cameo was very “The Empire Strikes Back”-esque and I have expected him to tell Bruce to go to the Dagobah system to train with Yoda. Speaking of Ra’s, they made him seem like a total jerk in this movie and made it seem like he cared for no one but himself, when they clearly established he loved his wife and daughter in the first movie. Also, why would he not listen to Talia when she tried to plead with him? Totally against the character of Ra’s al Ghul. And there are some things that need further discussion. These things are Bane, Talia, and the meandering theme(s) of the movie.
I have mixed feelings when it comes to Bane in this movie. On the one hand there are some very cool things about the character. Hardy’s performance as Bane is very good, especially the facial expressions. You do really get a since that this guy is intimidating and a force to be reckoned with. He is strong, brutal, and intelligent, as well as charismatic. We do also see some emotional depth in Bane, such as on the plane in the beginning. Here he has to leave a guy behind, and although you can tell he knows it’s necessary to do so, you kind of feel as though Bane would prefer not to leave him and does care about his men to a certain degree, as evidenced by his facial expressions here and the way he speaks to the man. The other scene where we really see the emotional depth he has is his scene with Talia where she talks about their back story. You can see the pain in his eyes as he remembers what happened, as well as the love he has for Talia. These 2 scenes to me are well done and really show that Bane isn’t just some monster, but is in fact human. There are some problems I have with Bane here though. It wasn’t a huge deal, but Bane’s size and lack of Venom did produce some issues. He did muscular and imposing that way yes, but next to Batman he was short and not as physically intimidating. The lack of Venom induce strength came in to play in 2 scenes. The first was the sewer fight with Batman. Batman is in a suit of full body armor, but somehow a Venom-less Bane inflicts a great amount of pain on Batman with body blows and breaks his back. How is this possible? I am not denying the general coolness of the scene, but that is something that was strange. Another moment when the strength thing was an issue was when Bane punched through a concrete pillar. That just isn’t possible. There is suspending disbelief, and then there is that. Another minor thing on Bane was his voice. I understood him about 95% of the time, but there were some lines that were not understandable. Just a minor gripe. The changing of the pit story was the biggest negative on Bane though. The story of Bane escaping from the pit was a big part of what made him intimidating and was also one of the reasons Bane was able to defeat Batman initially. Well that gets thrown out the window when Talia is revealed. Not only does it change all of Bane’s character development and make it all for not, but it makes him a glorified henchman. It is really detrimental to his character in this movie. Overall though, I do like Bane in the movie. Talia on the other hand…
Where to begin on Talia? The only cool thing about her in the movie is the fact that Talia is in a Batman movie. Everything else is just awful. Her being in the film is one of the worst kept secrets in movie history and it was obvious early on that she was Talia, so the twist was not a twist at all. Almost everything wrong with her stems from the fact that she has nothing to do with the Talia from the comics. The connection between her and the League of Shadows is only that her father ran it and now she runs it for some reason, not that she was a pivotal member and helped to lead it. She is not a skilled fighter in the movie, as a matter of fact she doesn’t fight at all. She was a master martial artist and assassin in the comics. Here she hates her father and had nothing to do with him really, whereas in the comics she loved her father and was always torn between her loyalty to him and her love for Bruce. Speaking of, there is almost no connection between her and Bruce here and no love story to speak of, they just have sex once. Again, exact opposite of how the character is. Also her motivation makes no sense. She is not continuing her father’s work because she believes in it, but to get revenge on Batman for killing her father, a man that she actually hated. How does that make sense at all? Talia’s death is also one of the lamest of any villain in any movie ever, just forever cementing her as a lame character. Also, her being revealed as the mastermind behind the whole thing makes Bane a glorified henchman and erases any theme(s) that the movie was trying to get across.
Speaking of, what exactly was the theme of this movie? Both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” had a solid theme or themes that were easy to identify and made you think. Here, there is nothing resembling a clear theme. Is the theme that all rich people are bad? Clearly that is not the case, so it does not make you think about that. Is the theme that the “99%” should run the government because they are the majority? Well, they don’t do a very good job here and it’s not necessarily true that they would in real life either. Is the theme that chaos and anarchy are the better than order and government? Again, just kind of makes things worse here. So which of these themes is the one that this movie wants to get across? I think the problem is that it’s all of these. Instead of just focusing on 1 or 2 solid themes like the first 2 movies, they tried to do all of these themes at once and really failed. And why was Bane causing all of this, when he just planned on blowing up the city anyways? Also, in the end these don’t even matter because the whole point of the plan was just for revenge. This is just one area where the movie fails hard.
So it may seem like I am picking on this movie and hate it. Well, that is not the case. In fact, I do really like the movie. I do believe that the good things out weigh the bad for the most part and that it is still a pretty good movie. However, I would say it is by far the weakest of the trilogy and that the first 2 movies were by far better films. The issues I touched on do really drag this movie down some and really prevent it from being as “epic” as it could have been. It is a very good movie that I am glad I saw and will watch many more times on Blu-Ray. This is a satisfactory conclusion to a very good trilogy and cements it as the best CBM trilogy so far.
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