The Dark Knight Rises: Movie Review
***Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers*** You have been warned!
My review of the Dark Knight Rises, I wanted to wait until I saw it a second time before reviewing.
The Dark Knight Rises - Movie Review
Personally I wanted to wait to write my review until I saw the movie a second time. This is the ending of the most iconic film trilogy of the past twenty-five years and I wanted to be sure I gave the movie a fair review. Overall as a stand alone film it was every bit the gripping, edgy, intense film-making that we anticipate from Christopher Nolan and was what we have come to expect from his take on Batman. The story takes place eight years after the ending the Dark Knight in which he took the fall for the mentally deranged Harvey Dent. The first hour or so of the movie is all based around showing what happened to Bruce Wayne after he hung up the mask and cowl after being blamed for Harvey Dent's death, how he had dealt with the loss of Rachel, and had slowly become a shell of the man that he had been. It also introduces Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle, aka Catwoman, and Tom Hardy as the mercenary Bane. The first third of the movie moves quickly but not at such a pace that you can't follow what is happening, although I will say a second viewing really lets you enjoy it much more as you know what to expect. I would summarize the trilogy as this: Batman Begins being the story of the Batman developing through a need of Bruce to bring justice to Gotham, The Dark Knight was a test of the ideals of Batman by the Joker, and in the Dark Knight Rises it challenges the very fiber of the being of who Bruce Wayne is as a person. The three movies together tell a complete story of Batman and the man behind the mask.
The characters in the story are all played by the same actors we have seen in the previous films. In my opinion the Batman we saw in the Dark Knight was a great portrayal of the actual hero by Christian Bale, while the Dark Knight Rises is by far and away his best portrayal of Bruce Wayne. He was able to show how much being the Batman had scarred him both physically, but also mentally as well. Ever wonder how messed up an actual person would be who spends their nights pulverizing criminals with the their fists only to lose their true love? Watch Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne in this movie and you will understand.
While it is unfair to compare anyone's character to the Oscar winning performance of the Joker by Heath Ledger, that is the exact position Tom Hardy found himself in playing the antagonist in the film, Bane. For the most part I didn't mind the version of Bane that Nolan developed. It gave a real world sense to a difficult character to portray. To act an entire movie with half his face covered, and only have his eyes to show expression, Hardy did an amazing job. My only complaints with the Bane character was that I did think the voice was slightly hard to understand. Though it was Darth Vaderish in tone, it lacked the clearness I was hoping for. Due to the fact that Bane spends quite a bit of time in the film monologuing I found that the voice was a slight let down. I also didn't feel they explained well enough that Bane was super strong but just that he was fighting a Batman that was older and not what he once was. I felt this took a little bit of the strength of Bane away from the film.
The League of Shadows makes a heavy appearance in the film as well, including a cameo by Liam Neeson, and it helped to form a connection between all three films. Marion Cotillard played one of Bruce's love interests in the film, as well as Ra's Al Ghul's daughter and she was descent in the movie but nothing special. Gary Oldman once again plays Commissioner Jim Gordon, and simply nails the role as he has during all three films. Alfred is played by award winning actor Michael Caine and he brings a lot of emotion to the film. His speech at the end of the film begging Bruce's parents for forgiveness for not protecting his son is Oscar worthy. Even when I knew Bruce wasn't dead the second time I saw the film I still teared up. He was that good. Of course Morgan Freeman was his normal fantastic self as well playing the CEO of Wayne Enterprises Lucius Fox. I wished they had been able to give Lucius a bigger role in the movie but he was still great with what he had.
That brings us to Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Both were simply fantastic, and I daresay nearly stole the show. I think Hathaway's portrayal of Catwoman in this film was right on the money. In the comics Catwoman is a very complicated character where her motives are always shifting, and this movie was a great portrayal of the character. From her being in disguise as a maid in Wayne Manor and encountering the reclusive Bruce, to stealing his car, to the fight on the roof with Bane's troops, she nearly stole any scene she was in, no pun intended. The character I was most confused about going into the film was Detective John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I was worried that adding yet another major character to the film would be one too much, but I was mistaken. In fact in argument could be made that it was his view of the story that we were actually watching. Early on when he tells Bruce that he figured out who he was from the time he met him as a child, and understood the pain that he hid as an orphan, his character really grew in the film. Of course at the end finding out his actual name was Robin, and finding the Bat-cave with the coordinates Bruce gave him was a cool plug for a possible fourth film. I really liked the passion his character brought to the movie, and I really hope they seriously consider making a movie around him either taking the Mantle of the Bat, or as Nightwing. He is a good enough actor that it could be done.
For the movie itself there has been no little debate on how this movie actually worked from a plot standpoint. I think it is an end-piece to a great series that was done well, but I think that it was the third best movie of the three. Kind of like how Return of the Jedi was a great movie, but probably wasn't as good as Empire Strikes Back or the New Hope, but I digress, it is the only comparison I can make. Dark Knight Rises has its moments for sure. The breaking of the Bat scene where Bane ends up breaking Batman's back was gruesome to watch, but yet was one of the best parts of the movie. Same goes for the doctor explaining to Bruce all of the damage that had been done to his body. The story in all was pretty good, but more than either of the other two films in the trilogy had many more plot holes. To name couple, there was absolutely zero travel time going between Bane's third world prison and Gotham on opposite sides of the world? Really? Bruce climbs out of the prison pit and what? Did he have a Concord standing by? I thought he was broke. Second, why was Bruce on a cane and hobbles around for the first half of the movie as a broken down injured man and then suddenly doesn't need it anymore? Did his cartilage regrow? That is just a couple of the inconsistencies, but there were many more. The script wasn't perfect, or at least let me say, up to the Oscar worthy standard of the Dark Knight. In all the movie did work and was very well done, but it wasn't of the same class or quality as the Dark Knight. The cinematography, music, special effects, and feel of the movie were all up to Christopher Nolan's ridiculously high standards and really delivered the goods. The fight scenes were done well and brought a bigger scale to them than in the other films in the series. If this is Nolan's last Batman film he has left very big boots to fill for whoever tries to make another one.
In all, the movie was a very good ending to the trilogy. I wasn't disappointed when I left, although I will say I almost stormed out of the theater when I thought they had killed Batman. Thankfully I stayed for the final two minutes. I was very surprised that the ending left so much open for a possible fourth film, and the fact they did so left me as excited as did anything else in the movie. The Dark Knight Rises was very well done and is easily one of the best movies of the summer. It is definitely worth at least a watch, but more likely two or three.
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