Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dark Knight Rises Review

I managed to find some time to catch The Dark Knight Rises over the weekend. It would be easy for me to parrot the professional reviewers and simply say that the movie was amazing. It was. But, it was also so much more than that. Nolan's epic conclusion to his Batman saga provides something we rarely see in superhero movie sagas: closure.

The Dark Knight Rises is a visually stunning, multi-layered film that is bold and emotionally thrilling. Comparisons to The Dark Knight are inevitable and Nolan wisely chose Bane as the villain this time out. Unlike the Joker, who challenges Batman's very philosophy, Bane is a pure bruiser who seeks to break Batman physically and emotionally. Tom Hardy plays Bane as a brutal yet articulate adversary. Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle had me worried, but her take on the character is refreshing and she has a lot of fun with the good girl/bad girl dance. She's obviously channeling a little Eartha Kitt in her performance, which is good, but a little goes a long way. Thankfully, she never went full purr. Bale, Caine and Freeman are, of course, as brilliant as ever and the introduction of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an aggressive, idealistic young cop adds a lot to the story. Unfortunately, the talents of Marion Cotillard are under-used so that she is practically wasted. I would have liked to have seen more of her character, but there's only so much you can fit into a story as complex as The Dark Knight Rises.

I do have a few issues with the film, but they are largely just nit-picks:

  • Nolan gives us a tale where Batman has gone into hiding for 8 years and Bruce Wayne goes into seclusion over the death of Rachel Dawes. While it does somewhat fit in with the Bruce Wayne that Nolan has given us, a man who dreams of a day when Batman is no longer necessary, the comic-book Batman would never do this. Nolan's Batman is more concerned with stopping organized crime while, in general, most (if not all) takes on Batman have him wanting to prevent the sort of street level crime that took his parents away from him. 

  • The Dark Knight showed us that the people of Gotham are generally good, yet The Dark Knight Rises supposes that the people of Gotham would rise up against the upper-class on the whim of a criminal who is threatening to detonate a nuke. It doesn't wash.

  • Alfred Pennyworth would never, EVER give up on Bruce Wayne. Period. Even Nolan recognized that in Batman Begins, so having this sort of rift in The Dark Knight Rises makes no sense. There's too much water under that bridge to allow a note from an ex-lover come between them. 

  • Matthew Modine? Really? UGH! 

  • There's no real sense about how much time is passing. Bane somehow finds the time to spirit Bruce Wayne across the globe to some prison and Wayne eventually escapes and makes his way back to Gotham (how? Wayne is practically bankrupt). Yet, the streets are still clean, maintenance is apparently still being done and Bane's equipment is still running on gasoline. 

All things said, I wish Nolan's Batman didn't have to end. He could have stretched it out for a few more movies or Warner Brothers could have given the reigns to another director and cast to continue forward with Nolan's vision. Thankfully, Nolan got to formulate a very satisfying conclusion to what will probably become the definitive take on Batman for decades to come. 

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