There are two reasons Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises may have the biggest burden of living up to expectations of any film in a long time. Do not get me wrong, Joss Whedon had his work cut out for him with The Avengers but that is reason number one the success of The Avengers now places high expectations on Nolan after The Avengers topped his previous superhero success The Dark Knight (reason number 2). But the burden is not on Nolan’s shoulders alone. Arguably one of the main reasons for the last Batman film’s success was the fantastic performance from the late Heath Ledger as Joker, so now you have audiences expecting the same from Tom Hardy as Bane (if you known Tom Hardy you know he always shows up with his A-game). I honestly have no real expectations because I have faith in Nolan’s vision for the trilogy. So let us see how I thought it stacked up.
Now in case you have been living under a rock for the last year or so and do not know of plot, here is a brief introduction to The Dark Knight Rises: Eight years following the events of the preceding film, Gotham is relatively quiet on the crime front and Batman is believed to have vanished along with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) who has essentially lived like a hermit in his mansion. Wayne is drawn out of his retirement when he learns that cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), broke into his mission to obtain his fingerprints for a very dangerous and sinister agenda of the ruthless Bane (Tom Hardy) who seeks to give Gotham to the people/criminals before it is reduced to rubble. Here is the trailer:
All I can say after walking out of the theater is that I can sleep easy at night now the Nolan has reaffirmed my faith that he knows how to really make a movie. At nearly three hours in length you would think there was a lot of fluff but honestly every scene was necessary but I honestly felt like there could have been so much more. There are definitely a few scenes early on that I felt where choppily edited for the sake a shaving a couple minutes off the run time even though if a movie is edging towards three hours, what is a few more minutes going to hurt? At the same time though, there is never a dull moment and the film moves at a very fast pace without impeding the story.
A lot of people are ridiculing this installment for making too much of the story dependent on the action and I could not be more surprised by this. It is a superhero movie after all, how could there not be a lot of action. If they are right that there is too much action, then it really is incredible that it manages to be as emotional a movie as it is. That is what separates it from the other installments. I really struggle to understand why audiences want sequels to be identical to its predecessors. What is the point of making another movie then if it is just going to be something done before? I mean it has to be in line with the other movies but it has to be its own movie at the same time and it definitely succeeds in that respect with all the emotions it evokes.
With any Christopher Nolan film the story is nothing without its characters and there are plenty worth mentioning in The Dark Knight Rises. Starting with the one’s we already know like Wayne, Alfred, Fox, and Commissioner Gordon. I think it is safe to say that the previous film of the trilogy had a lot of Bruce Wayne but did not focus much on him evolving like the first one. And that is one thing the new film does that makes it feel like the trilogy comes full circle. Wayne is a broken man, worn from his days in the suit and if you remember a repeat quote from the first “Why do we fall down? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” This is what drives Wayne to get back into the swing of things at the start of the movie. Alfred is there to be his crutch while at the same time is there as a restraint that wants to keeps the Wayne legacy alive. Fox is as loyal as ever, keeping the weapons and developments of Wayne Enterprises a secret from even its own board members. The there is Gordon, torn apart by a secret that could change Gotham forever if ever revealed.
Then you have to acknowledge the new face/masks of John Blake, Miranda Tate, Selina Kyle, and Bane. John Blake is just your everyday beat cop that seems to have a little more moral fiber than other members of Gotham’s police squad. His role in the film played down in the trailer and preview articles but he plays a really big part when control over Gotham starts going array. Miranda Tate is a member of the board at Wayne Enterprises that is concern over where her investments into the company have gone whose needs line up with Wayne’s secrets with Fox. Now we get into other masked personas starting with Selina Kyle (A.K.A. Catwoman even though I do not think they ever directly call her that) a very busy cat burglar whose agenda we can never really tell which is why the characters works with the movie so well. Now the character that is the focal nemesis for Batman in this movie, Bane. Bane put short is a mercenary raised in hell that is easily the more physically intimidating force Batman will ever face with intelligence to match.
All the performances in this film are spot on. I will start with the actor playing the character I am sure everyone is interested about, Tom Hardy as Bane. If you have seen at least three movies with Hardy you know full well how Hardy embodies the character he is playing. There was a lot of debate over half a year about the way his voice sounded. Now I did not see the feature that preceded the Mission Impossible III: Ghost Protocol premiere so I have nothing to compare it to but I had no trouble understanding him this time around even with the gypsy accent they had Hardy use.
Not going to lie when I first heard Anne Hathaway would be playing Catwoman I shook my head a little but when I heard Marion Cotillard would be in it too I threw my hands up in the air. I had my doubts about Hathaway and completely thought Cotillard would have played the role better but I could not have been more wrong! Hathaway is undoubtedly a very pretty actress but I had no idea she could play such a sexy, sly, seductive, and unpredictable character like she did. Her performance is definitely a highlight of the film.
Then you have the legendary Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth who really put on his acting chops for the little screen time that he got. He was so sincere about his desire to protect Wayne for potentially marching to his death that it was really one of the things that made the film so emotional.
The last performance I am going to talk about is one that with all this talk about Nolan and Hardy, no one is really recognizing what Christian Bale does in this film. Obviously the first shows the most drastic change in Wayne but this movie shows his evolution from courage to anger driven. Something that was missing from the previous two films, they focus on that it was his duty to save Gotham and here with everything that he goes through in this movie with Bane, Gotham, Rachel, Alfred and more he truly gets angry and does what he does to spite the villains which is what is for the best for Gotham. It is just weird that he plays the hero but Bale is the unsung hero of the cast.
I will wrap it up there so I do not get tempted to give up too many spoilers for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. This is hands down my favorite of the trilogy because of all the action, performances, and the emotional ride it takes the audience on. I score it at a 9/10 just because again some of the editing felt hurried, if there is an extended cut to be released then that would without a doubt earn a 10/10 from me.
Sorry for the longer than usual review but there was just so much to talk about yet this is only the tip of the iceberg considering all that they crammed in a 164 minute movie.