The Dark Knight Rises – Review

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Main Cast:

Bruce Wayne/Batman – Christian Bale
Bane – Tom Hardy
Selina Kyle/Catwoman – Anne Hathaway
Jim Gordon – Gary Oldman
Miranda Tate – Marion Cotillard
John Black – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest.  Batman resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

(While I don’t normally use the official synopsis for my reviews, I felt it safest.  I am going to try and review this movie without giving away any of the major plot twists.  This is not my easiest review in that sense, I can promise you that.)

Christopher Nolan was always going to have a hard time beating himself after The Dark Knight.  While I would love to get into the specifics as to why he won and failed at the same time, I would prefer to do that in the comments section this weekend after you have had a chance to watch the movie.  I balked at some of the negative reviews for the film (though not as strongly as others, who were resorting to death threats over a movie they hadn’t seen), but I knew that I was going to have to form a judgement for myself.

It just wasn’t quite there.

Nolan was ambitious, raising the stakes for his franchise as he bowed out of it.  But whether because Hardy just could not pull off the same menace and intensity that makes us never forget Heath Ledger, or whether because the beginning took far too long, The Dark Knight Rises never moved me the same way.

There were incredible moments, pieces of Batman Begins and the Dark Knight brought in seamlessly to provide consistency and closure to the trilogy.  Anne Hathaway surprised me, turning in a very memorable performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman.  And while Tom Hardy tried as Bane, he fell short of Heather Ledger’s Joker.  Where the villain makes a superhero movie just as much as our hero, if you have an impossible predecessor to measure up to, it needs more than what Nolan’s plot gave us to appreciate the madness.  In many ways, Bane felt like just another psychopath, albeit with more followers (especially since the Joker had a habit of killing his).

It takes a lot to set us up for the main action of the movie, and I think this is where he stumbles.  Nolan gets dragged down in the pieces of his plot, in creating the mythology for Bane and for what occurs on the screen in front of us. I am not saying there needed to be more action, but I think the plot lacked the immediacy that made The Dark Knight so enthralling, so engaging, and so completely spectacular.

There were many twists to this plot that I would love to discuss with you geeks once you have had a chance to see the movie.  So please come back and comment and let me know what you think about the many secrets.  As a life-long Batman fan (the early 90’s cartoon series got me hooked), not all of the twists were shocking, but they were still fantastic.

I find it difficult to give this movie a real rating.  It was excellent, but when the bar had been raised so high by the second installment, it fell just a bit short of where it could and should have been.  Still though, I’ll give it one anyway.

Rating: 9/10

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2 thoughts on “The Dark Knight Rises – Review

    Chase O'Gwin said:
    July 20, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    I will try not to have to many Blatant Spoilers in here but I make no promises!!

    Ok so I am only 4 hours off of a 9 hours Dark Knight marathon, and thought that I would weigh in here. I would have to agree with you in the fact that Bane is not as powerful as Heath in performance. However, I thought that this was fitting, as Joker was never paralleled by Bane, even during KnightFall.
    What I didn’t like is this Bruce Wayne who is so heart sick that he just can’t go on etc. Please people this is Batman.

    As to the story I think the problem that Nolen had was that he was trying to blend too many story lines. Obviously the strongest elements of the plot are taken from Knight Fall sans Jean-Paul Valley, but there whole blowing of bridges, isolating the island, etc was very No Man’s Land, and the ending, in theme at least, was straight out of the Dark Knight Returns. I appreciate the nod to nearly all the of the major story arcs of the last 20 years, but I think it would definitely drag for the uninitiated.
    On to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, wow I saw that one coming as soon as I learned his name: Blake, like that doesn’t sound like Drake at all, through in the fact that he figures out who Batman is as a child (another Drake thing) make him a beat cop (Nightwing anybody) and his hotheadedness, which is continuously brought up, was the same phrase that is always applied to Jason Todd. If you didn’t see the Robin thing coming you should just hang up your cape and cowl now and walk away.

    I can see the ending making a lot of people upset, but again this is out of Dark Knight Returns, and while Nolan has successfully closed his arc, does anybody really think that is the way Bruce and Selina would really bring things to a close?

    Despite my criticism I loved this movie

      Marisa responded:
      July 20, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      Chase, I would agree that Joker was always the stronger villain, but in many ways, it would have made more sense to have him therefore be the final villain. Bane’s whole stated purpose was to break Batman’s spirit, but where his actions are severe his personality being so cartoonish makes him seem less of a threat and therefore does not make the emotional stakes seem as real. With The Dark Knight, you were left wondering if Batman would break, you never really felt that here.

      I also agree that Bruce Wayne was too closed off emotionally to 1. run away with Selina and 2. mourn for 8 years over a girl (it is especially frustrating as a fan to see him pine after someone who only existed in Nolan’s universe and was never dynamic enough of a character to make his grief believable). I could buy him being lost over not being Batman, over not having that purpose that reinvigorated him, but not because of Dawes’s death.

      I knew Miranda Tate was going to be Talia, but with that knowledge I was hoping there would be more of a reveal. Instead, it felt like such a let down. Not dramatic, just a bit blah. Not really sure I can say why, but perhaps it came too late. I wouldn’t say it was a fault of Cotillard, she did a fantastic job, but more Nolan’s and the plot’s fault again.

      I think the main problem with the movie was that it lacked the same emotional intensity, the same vulnerability that you got with the first two movies. A lot of fine points to it, but a lot of flaws.

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