THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Decided to have a quiet Sunday night on the couch revisiting the climactic chapter of Nolan’s Batman trilogy!
Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and despite some flaws, it still delivers a spectacular and epic conclusion that should satisfy most fans of this series. The film opens eight years after the events of The Dark Knight and Batman, having taken the fall for Harvey Dent/Two Face’s crimes, has disappeared and The Dent Act has locked up most of Gotham’s organized crime. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, still heartbroken over the death of Rachel Dawes, has become a Howard Hughes-like recluse, also not seen in as many years. But with the arrival of mysterious and beautiful cat burglar, Selina Kyle (a sensational Anne Hathaway) and a vicious mercenary/terrorist called Bane (a bad-ass Tom Hardy), Bruce Wayne decides maybe it’s time for The Batman and Bruce Wayne to return to Gotham.
Most of my issues with the film are in the first act…the set up. Nolan has a lot to bring us up to speed on, multiple interconnecting stories to start us on and a lot of characters to introduce us to. And it’s a bit too much to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time despite the 165 minute length of the film. The first act comes across as choppy and rushed and to be honest, some of the new characters could have been left out with no harm to the story (Matthew Modine’s jerk of a cop and Selina Kyle’s young friend for ex.). But once Batman hits the streets, the film settles into it’s groove and we get a strong second act, followed by an absolutely spectacular last act that alone delivers more movie for the buck than most flicks do. While The Avengers was a superhero epic for the kid inside all of us, TDKR is an operatic epic for the adults. Nolan gives the film his trademark intensity which overcomes the film’s first act flaws and some of the minor quibbles one might have during the rest of the film, to really deliver a riveting cinematic experience, as he brings his Dark Knight tale to a close. The set pieces are of an epic scale that has rarely been achieved in modern films and Nolan never loses track of the characters within the action.
His cast is almost perfect, even with some of the lesser characters being performed very well. Bale delivers another emotionally charged performance as a man who is not only larger then life, but very human as well. He successfully creates a man who has two distinct identities yet, is very much the same man. Ann Hathaway is simply a great Selina Kyle. She gives a complex portrayal of a woman who is desirable, dangerous, cunning and yet, not without her humanity. She is a survivor and an opportunist and outright lethal, if she needs to be, but there are also hints of vulnerability and a heart. She and Bale have a great chemistry together as both their outer characters and their alter egos. Tom Hardy is perfectly cast as the terrorist, Bane. A monster of a man, but with an intellect that is only matched by his ferocity and viciousness. Hardy hits a home run with this villain, who may not be quite The Joker, but makes his own impact and is totally believable as a man who could possible outsmart and outfight The Dark Knight. He makes Batman the underdog and that adds to the film’s drama and intensity. Marion Cotillard was the weak link here. Her Miranda Tate is given little to do through most of the film and when she does become important to the proceedings, she just doesn’t have the dramatic strength or intensity to make it work. She’s not bad, but just doesn’t give the role the strength it needs in the short amount of time the character is given to make an impact. In contrast Joseph Gordon-Levitt once again shows he’s an actor to watch as a beat cop who has never lost sight of the true hero that Batman is, despite taking the blame for Dent’s murders, and maybe has some of that hero in himself when everyone else around him gives up hope. To wrap up the casting call, Caine, Oldman and Freeman are brilliant as always. Caine in particular has a few scenes that prove he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest actors of all time, plain and simple.
On a technical level, TDKR is beautifully filmed with Nolan’s camera achieving a rarely seen grandeur and the SPFX are flawless. The action scenes are intense, especially the fights between Bane and Bats and any further questions or flaws with the film are drowned in the operatic spectacle that Nolan has delivered. Sure the first act could have been smoother in flow and there are some plot holes and one may not agree with absolutely everything Nolan and company chose to do in finishing their epic trilogy, but when the smoke clears, it is both entertaining and satisfying on a grand scale and if Nolan did get a bit bombastic in his final chapter, the indulgence can be easily forgiven when considering the overall achievement in delivering not only one of the greatest film trilogies, but giving one of the greatest comic book characters ever, the film series he needs… and the one he deserves.
3 and 1/2 Banes!