Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: "The Dark Knight Rises"

The Dark Knight Rises is a good film.  Is it a great film?  No.  But there are enough good elements to make the overall experience enjoyable and ultimately fulfilling.  As the finale to a franchise, it works.  Unfortunately part of what makes it good is also part of what keeps it from being truly great, a paradox which also seems to plague our masked hero.  But I digress.

As Matt mentioned in his Pick O' The Week posting, this Thursday was a dear (mutual) friend's birthday and as a treat we decided to hit up the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.  Clad in our very own bat-gear we ventured out to the theatre and waited in line with other hard core moviegoers to experience the end of Christopher Nolan's triumphant trilogy.  We even managed to get decent seats!  Now I'm going to try to walk a fine line with this review and not spoil any large plot points so forgive me if I'm sounding a little vague.  Believe me, if you choose to go see the film, you won't begrudge me the things I didn't say...

This film begins 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight (the second of the trilogy and the unforgettable performance of Heath Ledger) and sees Batman having hung up the cowl.  Defeated, recluse, and unnerving, Bruce Wayne has chosen to retire to his huge mansion, seldom to be seen in broad daylight.  In fact, only Alfred seems to have spent any time in the man's presence and even when there's an event AT HIS HOUSE he can't be bothered to show up.  Commander Gordon is a broken man, having built up the city's police force using an imagined martyrdom of Harvey Dent at the hands of a demonized Batman.  And so begins our story, on the night of a fundraiser, we learn of the state of things and can anticipate the danger to come (we've seen the trailers and this is, after all, a Batman movie).  All this comes to pass after a terrifying introduction to Tom Hardy's Bane, a nightmare of a man with a mind bogglingly loyal following.

As I mentioned, this is where the film excels: giving us characters to both root for and be terrified of but  it also, unfortunately, means that there are a lot of scenes which are devoted to character development but which don't seem to really move the story along.  At a bloated 2 hours and 45 minutes, the film could perhaps do with a little more movement.  While scenes with Bane in them were absolutely electrifying, I found myself almost entirely uninterested in any scene featuring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne.  That could, of course, be down to the vortex of characters that are spinning around him throughout the events of the film.  Anne Hathaway is surprisingly kick-ass as Catwoman, though one thing they didn't worry about was whether or not she and Bale had any chemistry onscreen (hint: they don't) but she pretty much chews things up in all her scenes, even with the terrible one liners.  She also did a decent job of her fight scenes, which I always appreciate.

There are several secondary characters (most notably Joseph Gordon Levitt's Officer John Blake) which I felt were given too high of a billing in this film.  While I love JGL and find him vey engaging there was a certain point in the film where I thought, "okay, enough already," and while I know why they chose to give him more screen time I think I would have preferred there to be more of the characters I know and love (read: more Alfred)!  There are other characters (such as Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate) who I felt could have played a larger roll in the film as a whole, and led to more development of the Bruce Wayne/Batman character, which I felt was perhaps a bit sparse.  All these characters' needs means that the plot itself gets a bit thin in parts, though in the end I'm not sure it so much matters.

The effects are quite good and the action scenes were remarkably well choreographed.  The gadgets are  cool, there is some humour injected (lightly) and they did a good job of incorporating all the mythology of the first two films.  It's a spectacle and it's not out to blow your mind or make you rethink your life but the film has a few things to say and it does wrap up all the mythology of the films into a neat little package by the end.  For me, I would have liked a little more flexibility in the ending something that left you wondering and mulling it over in your head as you left the theatre, but with a big franchise you often have to make things very clear to a wider audience.  Batman has always been about the moral grey area, and the black and white ending of this film left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

My rating?  3.5 out of 4

Bottom line: it's a good film, you'll probably enjoy yourself, and it's worth the money to see it full price.

1 comment:

  1. I saw The Dark Knight Rises again last night. It isn't a "great" film like The Dark Knight, though it had potential.

    Was the film too long? It is listed at 165 minutes. The Dark Knight was 152 minutes. But it was more thrilling. I can appreciate Heath Ledger's performance much more now, after seeing The Dark Knight Rises.

    The Dark Knight Rises is visually spectacular. It was filmed in an almost-perfect way. Is that why the budget was $185 million?

    And I actually loved Christian Bale's performance as Bruce Wayne. There was a lot more humanity and humility. Tom Hardy's Bane was downright frightening. It was awesome. Anne Hathaway was a decent Catwoman, but she didn't compare to Michelle Pfeiffer, Julie Newmar, or Eartha Kitt. (But check out someone who thinks she was brilliant -

    I was incredibly disappointed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and more so by the story that devoted so much time to a character that was useless and annoying. Sure Chris O'Donnell was a pitiful Robin, but was JGL any better as Batman's sidekick?

    I won't mention Marion Cotillard. It was pretty bad, too.

    Overall the film is quite good and I agree with Siobhan's rating. I was disappointed because I saw the film with HUGE expectations and I was let down. Christopher Nolan better come back with something jaw-dropping or I'll refuse to acknowledge him as an "auteur" director.