Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Published: July 18, 2012 - 2:26pm
The Dark Knight Rises is a solid film. It features the most beautiful cinematography of the entire trilogy and a crowd pleasing epilogue that does justice to the franchise. Aside from that, I can't think of anything else memorable about this piece as I found it to be overall predictable and long winded.
The film picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is a recluse who doesn't leave reconstructed Wayne Manor due to his latent physical injuries from battling Harvey Dent/Two-Face and emotional distress from the death of Rachael Dawes. The Harvey Dent Act, which treats organized crime suspects the save way The Patriot Act treats terrorist suspects in the US, is keeping Gotham City safe enough that Batman doesn't seem to be needed anymore. When a cat burglar takes off with something of value from his home and a villain known as Bane starts stirring trouble around the city, Bruce decides to take action again. But similarly to his encounter with The Joker in The Dark Knight, he underestimates how sinister Bane and his league of mercenaries are; all the while dealing with the floundering of Wayne Enterprises that forces him to make decisions that may save his family's company or inadvertently destroy it from within. Under duress from Bane the citizens of Gotham pit themselves against any semblance of law and order, Batman returns to attempt to save the city he once swore to protect.
I can't go into any more detail without divulging too much about the story line but I will say that if you've been following coverage of this film closely -- set photos, casting speculation, scene details, etc -- there aren't many surprises in store. Nothing goes wrong here, what goes right just isn't very entertaining. My main issue with the film is so much emphasis on unnecessary characters that I feel sidetracked the story, for example Wayne board member Roland Daggett (played by Ben Mendelsohn), Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and Gotham Police Deputy Commissioner Foley (Matthew Modine). Even Bruce Wayne/Batman becomes a secondary character, with much more time spend developing Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Gotham PD officer John Blake into the unsung hero. Christian Bale's portrayal of Wayne was great and I enjoyed it much better than his turn in The Dark Knight thanks to more opportunities in the script for him to show his range, but we're shortchanged on actually seeing Batman. The more I think it over the more I realize Batman, when he finally does show up, spends more time shooting things up on his Batpod or his new aerial vehicle The Bat than getting in on the action himself. It works within the context of the film but it gets repetitive quickly.
Hathaway came across well as Selina Kyle, a sometimes self centered cat burglar with a grudge against high society, though she fell flat once in the Catwoman suit with it's silly, serrated stilettos and goggles that don't serve a purpose. Tom Hardy did as damn good a job as possible emoting with a big, metal faceplate covering his mouth but he just couldn't deliver lines as menacing as you can tell he wanted to. Bane here is unrecognizable from his comic book counterpart in visual style, background and motivation; basically he's a completely new character who coincidentally shares the same name and promises to "break" the Batman. Whereas changes to past Batman villains in this trilogy were made to better the story I just don't understand why Bane was chosen to be included here. I also don't understand why he was made to sound like a certain German scientist from Hellboy 2
The two most positive things I will remember film are the ending, which I won't talk about even a little bit since it's meant to be earned by seeing it in theaters, and the cinematography. The later part was provided by Wally Pfister and it's the best of the trilogy. The whole film is laid out beautifully and in IMAX the scenes of Gotham City's haunting destruction are absolutely stunning. Other highlights are Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman's performances as John Blake and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. By far I consider them the best characters in the film and I found myself continuously being more interested in their strife than anyone else. Michael Caine's return as Bruce Wayne's butler and confidant Alfred was heartfelt and very emotional. When he appears in a scene you knew the filmmakers want nothing more than for you to cry. It's funny how three of the mundane characters are able to take so much attention away from the three commercially marketable ones.
The overarching theme at hand is the rising of a hero. Aside from the title itself, the word 'rise' is plastered on almost every promotional poster and TV spot and it's mentioned constantly within the film. And it fits since Batman rises, Selina Kyle rises, John Blake rises, Jim Gordon rises... I kid you not that every heroic character in this film goes through a metaphorical ascension. Again, it works in the context of the film, just barely, but it works. You can't help but compare this film to the previous two, especially the most memorable parts such as Heath Ledger's Joker. That's how sequels work, they aren't independent properties and when it's hard to hide moments that falter compared to their predecessors. In this case, The Dark Knight Rises is missing a scene stealer like The Dark Knight had and emphasis on Bruce Wayne's development like Batman Begins spotlighted. What it does deliver is some much needed fan service, so be sure to pay attention as not to miss the handful of Batman comic book references that are fit in. It's a by-the-numbers superhero flick that's played too safe and surprisingly cartoony but at the same time nicely executed. It's solid movie that features a crowd pleasing, smile-invoking epilogue fitting for such a beloved trilogy. Missteps and plot holes aside, I am glad director Christopher Nolan came back to do a third film and bring his take on the character's mythology full circle; though I wouldn't put it past another director to try and continue this story in a few years time.
It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.
But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.
The Dark Knight Rises stars Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Josh Pence, Daniel Sunjata, Diego Klattenhoff, Burn Gorman, Nestor Carbonell, Alon Aboutboul, Matthew Modine, Tom Conti, Brett Cullen, Chris Ellis and Joey King and is scheduled to hit theaters July 20th, 2012.