Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

We certainly have come a long way since the days of 'na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na, Batman!'  The Dark Knight Rises marks the end of Christopher Nolan's beloved bat-saga, the critically adored grounded-in-reality superhero series that inspired everyone and their mother to pull off their own gritty reboot.  And if you thought the other films were dark and gritty, buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye-bye.  The main baddie this time around is Bane, a terrorist who is basically doing what the Joker only talked about doing: introducing a little anarchy and watching the world burn.  Batman and co. face some of the scariest post-9/11 scenarios you could imagine, and trust me, the 9/11 symbolism is here in full force, along with the motif of "rising."  Not only is Bruce Wayne and Batman constantly "rising" after the events of The Dark Knight and the loss of a substantial amount of money from Wayne Enterprises, but literally as well in almost every scene (even the damn bat suit rises out of the water), including one of my favorite scenes that truly tests Bruce Wayne's willpower (no spoilers).

The cast, as with most of Nolan's films, is spectacular.  You've got Christian Bale, who took a bit of a back seat last time around to make room for Heath Ledger, re-taking center stage, playing Batman as well as anyone could hope.  You've got Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in their top forms as Lucius Fox and Alfred, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a devoted, "hot-headed" cop, Marion Cotillard as a philanthropist, Tom Hardy as the hulking Bane, Anne Hathaway as the sexy femme fatale Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), and last but not least Gary Oldman as the iconically-moustached Commissioner Gordon.  Every one of these people makes the movie better and it's through their interactions that drive the movie forward.

The Dark Knight unarguably features the best super-villain performance in a film; while not being nearly as fascinating as Heath Ledger's Joker (and who could expect him to be?) Bane is certainly still a seriously menacing figure.  Played by Tom Hardy (WarriorBronson), Bane is as brutal as his comic book counterpart.  Sporting an accent that sounds like the offspring of Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart, Bane is a grandiose, violent force in this film.  Though obscured by a mask throughout the running time, Tom Hardy was a perfect choice for the role, bringing the same level of body strength he showcased in Warrior, and the same level of unrelenting intensity as Bronson.  And though it's Bane who's the mastermind behind the destruction of Gotham, it's Anne Hathaway as "Catwoman" (though never referenced by that name) that steals the show, among other things...because she's a cat burglar.  She is just so sleek, quick-witted, and not to mention among the most attractive women working in film today, you just can't take your eyes off her, and is the closest this film comes to a "fun" character.

As I mentioned before, TDKR hits you over the head with its 9/11 imagery and political overtones.  There are many scenes in this film that are difficult to watch, mostly due to the unrelenting powerhouse of terror called Bane.  He's just so brutal - every punch, every look, every word has a dark, heavy menace.  You really get a sense of the scope of desperation across Gotham, and the helplessness of its citizens.  As an avid fan of horror movies I'm pretty desensitized to violence, but I was constantly wincing - let the weak-hearted be warned!

I do have to say, although I loved and would recommend seeing it in IMAX, the difference between 'regular' and IMAX shots were very noticeable - much more so than in The Dark Knight.  In certain instances in Rises, the movie will cut quickly between different scenes that were in real 70mm IMAX footage to 'regular' 35mm, and it takes some effort to tune out the difference, whereas a little bit more pre-planning could have fixed that issue (I have no idea how this looks on a 'normal' theater screen).  But besides that this film simply looks sumptuous and Nolan's trusty cinematographer Wally Pfister gives this that familiar 'Nolan' level of class.  There's not much in here that wasn't shown in the trailers, but the set pieces and big action beats are gorgeous, and seeing how it all clicks together is still satisfying.

I could nitpick this film to death in a spoiler conversation, but the gist is that The Dark Knight Rises is a great end-note to the Nolan trilogy of Batman films despite some minor issues.  The last five minutes of the movie will take Batman nerds on a roller coaster ride of 'oh shit' moments, and there are so many amazing individual moments that some of the bigger problems of the film really shouldn't matter.  There is so much going on in this film, it may take repeat viewings to get a bearing on it however, especially considering Bane's sometimes-indecipherable accent, muffled by his alien-looking voice box.  But still, summer entertainment doesn't get much better; Christopher Nolan's three bat-entries can comfortably fit alongside the original Star Wars films as one of cinema's great trilogies.

Rating: A-


  1. Thought the movie was great based on the fact that it was 2.5 hours and I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. Hans Zimmer kicked ass with the music as he always does. Bane's voice sounded amazing. Catwoman was perfect. The acting and all that was fine and dandy and all that...

    I do not think it was as good as everyone says it was, however.

    First of all... As awesome as Bane's voice sounded, I found the dialogue between him and Batman to be too difficult to keep up with. It was like listening to a conversation between Stallone and Schwarzenegger. It wasn't unbearable, but I kept thinking how I wish there were subtitles whenever the two of them spoke.

    Secondly - Every single "Twist" was waaayy too easy to see, and they relied on the "twist" factor much more in this film than they did in the second one.


    It was far too easy to see that the English girl was going to turn out to be working with Bane in the end. They made this big point in telling us that she has complete control now, and Bane kept saying how everything was going part of the plan, and she had that scar on her back, and so on and so on... They gave her that all too common role of the cute female character who gets really friendly with the hero, but then turns out to be the villain's right hand woman.

    I don't understand why anyone would think that Bane was the kid who climbed out of the tunnel. They tell you outright that bane was givin his mask in that pit by that doctor, yet the kid who escapes the pit had no mask... sooooo why are we supposed to think that that was Bane?

    I was also bummed out at how predictable the solution to the nuclear bomb problem was. SPOILER - It's the same as pretty much every single other movie that has a Nuclear Bomb that can't be shut off - They move it to another spot... (literally just happened in the Avengers 2 months ago)

    It was all way to unbelievable too. I can understand how it's just a movie, it's a superhero movie, blah blah blah... But they paint this guy Bane as this hulking, seemingly invincible character, and then there's Batman who's completely decrepit, and expect us to believe he's going to be able to fight him. There was too much craziness. The bike in 1 was cool, the tank in 2 was cool, but a Banshee straight out of Halo 2 for 3?!

    I liked how in the first 2 movies, Batman's success in fighting was brought on because he was so good at the whole deceptive, unseen, trick/distraction fighting. This movie he just uses his brute strength - which he shouldn't have anymore. When they show him crippled in the beginning I was excited because obviously he was going to end up fighting, and I thought we'd be seeing him resorting to the distraction fighting methods heavily and I was disappointed.

    1. **spoilers** Well, uh, Batman, I totally agree with you about that twist with Bane not being the one to escape; it also makes the final fight at the end lose impact because now we know that Bane and Batman are not true physical equals (therefore making his crippling fight earlier make Batman look like shit). And I also had a problem with the bomb at the end - such a cliche.

  2. Sorry for the heavy grammar and spelling errors and lack of any organisation of thought in my post. It's 3AM... I went to the 11PM showing and just wanted to get some quick thoughts out before going to bed


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