Thursday, July 19, 2012

Film Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Last night I saw The Dark Knight Rises in a press screening. Since the screen went dark in 2008, many of us have been waiting for the follow-up to The Dark Knight, and along with that has come four years of hype. Does it live up to it? Has Nolan crafted a fitting end to his trilogy?

The answer is, yes.

The Dark Knight Rises finds Bruce Wayne a shell of a man. In the eight years that have passed since the Joker's reign of terror, Harvey Dent's decent into madness, and Rachel Dawes' death, Bruce hasn't donned cape and cowl and has taken sanctuary within the walls of Wayne Manor. The lie concocted by Wayne and Gordon has been spun into the Harvey Dent Act and, under Gordon's leadership, the streets of Gotham have been cleaned up.

Deep in the sewers and tunnels of Gotham, however, a new darkness is stirring. An army led by the monstrous Bane begins their takeover of Gotham. Coupled by the appearance of a costumed thief, Bruce is compelled to don cape and cowl once more and retake the night. But what he's gotten himself into is much more than he bargained for.

Without delving into spoilers, that's as far as I feel I can go.


The cast is phenomenal. There are no weak links. Tom Hardy is horrifying as Bane, Christian Bale churns out his finest performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and the rest of the supporting cast delivers their A-game. The biggest surprise is Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle, who I can't stop raving about. She's easily the best new addition to the cast, and owns every scene she's in. I was skeptical but optimistic about her casting, but if everyone else delivers their A-game, Hathaway delivers an A+. She's worth the price of admission alone.

There were some things that took me out of the story, though. There are some exposition-heavy scenes, and some characters point out the obvious. Visually, you can see what has happened affects them, so them immediately pointing it out is a bit distracting.

The inevitable question is whether Rises is better than The Dark Knight? It might be more comfortably answered after seeing it twice (and you do need to see it at least twice), but I'd say no. I'd put it in between The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, personally. However, I feel the question will be answered depending on which of Rises predecessors you preferred. For me, The Dark Knight was Batman perfection. But honestly, among Batman movies, much less comic book movies, the slot behind The Dark Knight is not a bad place to take residence.

Assigning a score, I'd rate The Dark Knight Rises a 3.75, with The Dark Knight rating a 4 and Batman Begins scoring a 3.5 on a 1-4 scale.

Now, if you've seen the movie or aren't afraid of spoilers, click ahead! (You've been warned!)


Knightfall


I honestly can't believe they went for the back breaker. Bane dropping Batman on his knee was the most shocking moment of the film for me. Of course, Bruce's back wasn't really broken, but damaged. Badly. You really feel for him, but his determination to heal and take back his city becomes an obsession that Bale completely sells.

Is Ra's al Ghul not Immortal?


No, he's not. But he is, though his daughter Talia, also known on screen as Miranda Tate. Ever since Marion Cotilliard was cast, online speculation pointed to her being Talia al Ghul. The fact that so many speculated it kind of dampened the impact of the reveal for me. One of the things about Nolan's movies is that you never know what's going to happen, so the fact that so many people essentially guessed right on this point was kind of a downer. But the way that Talia was worked in didn't seem contrived or change anything about Ra's al Ghul from Batman Begins, so it really is a rare instance of a character's history being altered in a very, very good way.

The Legend Ends

When that bomb went off, I was furious. I actually thought they'd killed Bruce Wayne. The payoff of Alfred seeing him in the Italian cafe -- with Selina! -- saved the film. And so, "Batman" died, but Bruce Wayne lived. But Batman is reborn -- we assume -- through John Blake. Like Inception, Rises ending is somewhat ambiguous in where the story goes from there, but therein lies the beauty. It's not the ending I expected, but I was okay with it. And in the end, we got a satisfying, conclusive story -- exactly what Nolan promised.

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