The Dark Knight Rises spoiler-filled review
It's been impossible to escape from this movie ever since we heard that there were rumours about it being made. And we've waited 4 years for it. Was it worth the wait? Well, I will give my thoughts on the film, while discussing the spoilers in full detail so please leave if you don't want to read about them.
Since the movie's been out for almost two weeks now it's time for me to review it. This review is filled with spoilers so if you haven't seen the movie yet (and yes, shame on you) the exit's right there. Now, let the review begin and the legend end.
First of all, let me begin by saying that this is a very beautifully shot film and hats off to Wally Pfister (who started out making low-budget erotic thrillers and is now one of the most sought-after cinematographers out there and lets hope he won't disappoint with his own feature film either). The dark places are very dark, the lights are "blinding", as Bane would say and in the middle of all the despairingly grey Gotham we get big fires and explosions of bright red, orange and yellow, which create an interesting visual sense of contrast, which tells us about one of the many themes of the film: mirrors (be they psychological, thematical or otherwise).
The first scene in which bane casually kidnaps a nuclear physicist whilst crashing a plane is impressive in its scope and indeed its reduced space at the same time because it shows us one thing: escape is impossible and bane is totally in control. It was nice to see that aspect remind me of a film that I recently revisited: Alien. The monster is on the aircraft but that knowledge doesn't help because Bane is an unstoppable and oddly human killing machine. The pit scenes were also a nice visual and thematical reminder of batman begins at the same time and show that Bruce Wayne actually has to grow up and best the fear he never had: the fear of dying because, ultimately, the idea of batman is a deathwish: the legend that can go on without the man implies that the annihilation of the individual is something that Bruce Wayne is totally at ease with. He has to learn to fear dying (=appreciate living) in order to lay down his life for others so that it feels like a proper sacrifice and Nolan understands that difference.
Thematically this film is much closer to Batman Begins than the Dark Knight in that Bruce wayne is the main focus and the entity of batman creeps in as a sort of afterthought. i however, did not mind that at all because everytime I see Christian bale as Bruce wayne I go "that's batman" even when he's not wearing the costume and it's certainly a sign that christopher Nolan has more creative freedom than a lot of directors who would probably have shown us the hero back in costume by the 15-minute mark. Not so Nolan. he gives the events of TDK enough momentum to have a lasting impact on the hero and the story works. Bruce wayne lost the love of his life but had no time to really let that affect him in the previous film. now the threat of the Joker and Two-face has been defeated at least superficially and batman has retired. That choice did not seem odd in the least bit, especially in a world of "heightened reality", as the hero has been physically and emotionally crippled and the city has tasted the first breath of fresh air since...probably ever. but that air may just be poisonous because Bane recognizes the lies by reading a kidnapped Gordon's speech the latter had originally prepared for Harvey Dent Day, decides it's an undeserved achievement and does everything he can to bring down the lie and burn the city down. So batman obviously has to come back. The fact that the final fight takes place during daylight seems important enough to be mentioned: the night is over and dawn is finally upon us.
Now on to the cast. Most actors cannot even properly emote while having all of their face at their disposal. Hardy is gleefully phenomenal and intimidating as bane and it's all in his eyes and body language. the way he cocks his head, the way he holds his vest, the almost casual way in which he destroys Ben Mendelsohn's face and especially the chillingly calm voice make this batman opponent different from the rest. Tom hardy presents a very palpable form of evil: one that may have totally rationalized its own deeds to the point that it sees nothing wrong with them whatsoever. But maybe, just maybe, these beliefs are all a lie as well? The scheme of the villain made little sense (why not blow everything up right away?) until it was revealed that Talia al Ghul also joined the party and what she meant to bane. Bane is one of the more interesting batman villains, as he is the anti-batman, both mentally and physically. But it's not just that: this version of Bane has a link to the League of Shadows, he does everything he does to prove his love and devotion to someone else (very much a motivation that Bruce embraced in Batman Begins to show Rachel his good nature, albeit with an objective that considers also the happiness of others) and even his voice is rough and grumbling (I could understand him perfectly by the way). Bbane just wants to show how evil he can be so he can be loved, and maybe save the innocence of a young child born in hell. Which is totally in line with how that relationship was approached in the comics. Plus, this villain's most iconic comicbook moment is presented in all its silent glory and stands out as one of the best comicbookmovie moments ever. Does this character suffer if one comares him to the joker? Yes but ONLY because peope expected a similar kind of villain, when bane and the joker could not be any more different.
Miranda Tate, as played by marion Cotillard, is a nice addition and does bring everything full circle and there was very little that made you see the big twist at the end unless you had been on the nternet beforehand and seen pictures of her in the talia outfit.
Anne Hathaway was both very serious and funny at the same time, which also played nicely into the theme of parallels and paradoxes. She is catwoman to me now because, while Burton has the costumes, this has the bitterness and resentment but also the playfulness and seductiveness of the character. She literally steals the show and i'd go back and watch the movie just for her scenes alone. The best one by a mile is a scene in which she's trying to trade Bruce Wayne's fingerprints for a device that could wipe her record clean, which plays into her blurry past that Frank Miller and many other writers have elaborated upon. Anne Hathaway combines them all and makes her catwoman into a Robin Hood-type figure, which felt like a fresh interpretation of the character to me and made sense from the way the plot and themes develop. The class struggle is alluded to very heavily in this film and while Bane is totally faking his empathy for the common man in order to torture Bruce wayne and the people, Catwoman seemed like a very lonely character driven by some kind of need to rise beyond her social status, and it was nice to see a Holly Robinson-type character (juno temple) in here, too.
Michael Caine as Alfred got some of the best emotional depth out of the character and it is an understandable reaction that Alfred would, eventually, leave Bruce because that's what people do in real life and John blake says so as well: they want you to get over your problems and they're understanding until they see that the problem doesn't get fixed, at which point they leave you. John "Robin" Blake (JGL) is a character that I now want to see in the batman comics and if anything, this character shows us that the system eventually does betray you and your idealism gets crushed. JGL brings an idealism into this character living in a world of cynics and grifters that makes him stand out enough for us to consider him the hero and the last shot of the film is pretty clear on that part. Morgan freeman and Gary Oldman all have their moment to shine and now cannot imagine the characters looking any different in teh comics because that's what this review inevitably boils down to: Nolan "gets" batman and his supporting characters, be they friend or foe.
Now some of the negative points (and they are few): the film is a bit rushed (some scenes could have been improved by devoting more time to them and it would have fleshed out the characters even more. The way Bruce wayne's broken back gets fixed asks us to suspend our disbelief almost to the breaking point but Bale's and Tom Conti's acting save it. The villain's death is not all that spectacular but in this world of hard truths and inevitable consequences it's easy to believe that people die in rather stupid ways sometimes. Also, since anne hathaway is so good you miss her whenever she's not on screen but that's just a testament to the incredible character hathaway and Nolan have created. Some minor continuity issues and moments of suspension of diselief were also there but had i not read about them before going into the film i wouldn't have noticed so take that with a grain of salt. A good movie is one that makes you forget about this sort of stuff.
in the end, this is a great way for Nolan to end his trilogy and even though i've read about most spoilers and seen the set videos and set pictures, this movie left me stunned. That's why I give The Dark Knight Rises a well-deserved 9/10. Holy trilogy, batman.
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