There is a weight of expectation on some movies that they can’t be anything less than brilliant, The Dark Knight Rises is one such film. Both The Dark Knight and Batman Begins before it were truly special films. A treatment of a super hero in a realistic and grounded way. So when you see negative reviews of The Dark Knight Rises it is this very expectation and caliber that the films have to not only meet but exceed.
I’m not going to write a negative review of The Dark Knight Rises so don’t take this as some giant disclaimer for what I’m about to say. But I freely admit I got sucked into the expectation game and find myself a victim of the hype. Let this be said from the outset The Dark Knight Rises is a very good film and so close to greatness but not quite. It is a fitting conclusion to an epic trilogy and shouldn’t be missed by anyone who has enjoyed the first two movies.
The Dark Knight Rises starts eight years after the demise of Harvey Dent. Both Batman and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) have both become recluses. An encounter with a confident jewel thief, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the rise of a terrorist threat by the menacing Bane (Tom Hardy) find Wayne forced to don the costume once more. A move which the ever-faithful Alfred (Michael Caine) feels is somewhat prophetically beyond him.
What I Liked:
- An absolutely amazing returning cast whether it be the series regulars such as Christian Bale who delves ever deeper into the psyche of Bruce Wayne or Michael Caine who is the heart of the movie all shine once again as they have in the past. (He is also criminally underused)
- The newcomers also managed to hold their own. Anne Hathaway is sexy, selfish and street-smart when it comes to an understanding of catwoman. She hints at something tragic in her past but it rarely causes her to pause. The other great addition is Joseph Gordon Levitt who stars as John Blake, an idealistic but clever cop who helps Commisioner Gordon as confident. Every time either one of these actors is on the screen you move forward in your seat in anticipation.
- A great if convoluted plot filled with wonderful set pieces. My little plot synopsis says almost nothing of what actually takes place in the movie. There are twists and turns backstabbing and the like but
- It’s the powerful imagery that will get you. Just to give an example there is a prison where Bruce Wayne is captured where the only way out is by literally climbing out of course this echoes the well that Bruce fell down as a child. He despairs at being captured but his eventual rising is far more than a symbolic journey upwards. It’s kind of obvious I get but that makes it no less powerful. There are themes of war and loss which play out too.
- A powerful finish to a wonderful trilogy. Everything is wrapped up, bringing elements of the plot and themes to full fruition
What I Didn’t:
- Pointless characters are on show here and there are two in particular Commissioner Gordon’s subordinate Foley or Selina’s friend Holly. Why oh Why in such a full film do you waste time with stories that add nothing to the proceedings?
- The character of Bane as played by Tom Hardy is brilliant given that he wears a mask. The problem is there are moments when you wanted more than the mask. I know it’s a design decision but I feel it hinders some bigger moments particularly when you factor in the voice that is sometimes difficult to understand.
- It’s not really a Batman film anymore. I know there is a guy who dresses in a bat suit but tell me you couldn’t put Jack Bauer or Jack Ryan or even Jason Bourne into this plot about terrorists taking over the city? This is not Batman who glides across the rooftops scaring the criminal elements half to death even before he lays a hand on them.
Should You See It:
If you have seen any of Nolan’s Batman films then this is a resounding yes. It’s not perfect but there are no serious flaws here especially nothing that will derail the proceedings. This is an epic movie dealing with massive set pieces, important themes and is well acted beyond measure. Once it moves beyond the convoluted start it cracks along at breakneck speeds. This is the end of the trilogy done well. Dark Knight Rises is Nolan perhaps not at his best but for the rest of us, mere mortals that is more than enough, well done good sir to you and all involved.