The Dark Knight Rises (Review)

Not since Terminator 2 has there ever been a movie harder to top with a sequel than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.  Unlike Terminator, this was set up to be a trilogy so the story was set in motion, but that doesn’t make the expectations any less daunting.  So let’s cut to the chase, is this the best Batman movie of all time, the quick knee jerk answer is no.  The better question is does this movie perfectly bookend what may be the greatest movie trilogy of all time, the answer to that is YES.  Nolan constructs an epic and at times outlandish third Batman film that puts an end to his Batman trilogy with a satisfying finish.  Where some people won’t enjoy this flick is due to the fact that Nolan’s follow up to The Dark Knight veers off in a different direction than “The Dark Knight” setting itself apart from that flick substituting the fast paced action with a more emotional journey for Batman but still weaving together a fascinating movie that doesn’t make you feel like you just sat in a movie theater for 3 hours. (you did)   This movie is so rich in story, spectacle and content that you leave the theater drunk, over stuffed and trying to digest the film on the way to the car.  The action set pieces are good albeit few and far between this time around which really takes a back seat to the innovation and inventiveness of The Dark Knight.   This time around Nolan trades fast paced “holy shit” action scenes for a more brooding, soul searching heroes redemption and brutal fist fights.  The master plan of masked bad guy Bane is hugely ambitious while being a bit head scratchily convoluted.  Bane’s plot to over turn Gotham into a poor eating the rich society reflects how tight the script was for this flick.  I can’t imagine the pain staking amount of time and detail went into writing the second act of this film.

Bane is played by Tom Hardy and it’s no fault of Hardy that he will be behind Ledger’s Joker in the Batman villain pecking order, which is no slight toward Hardy, he did everything he could with the Bane character.  He bulked up, kicked ass, was intimidating as hell but with the mask over his face and over dubbed voice, his performance was hindered from day one.   I do have to tip my hat to Nolan who gave this badass member of Batman’s rouge’s gallery his proper due.  Also recreating one of the most iconic Batman comic book panels gave audiences a goose bump worthy moment.  My hats off to Anne Hathaway and her turn as the cat burglar turned Gotham City heavy hitter Catwoman. Her conflicting character straddling both sides of good and evil made you wishing she was around more during this close to 3 hour epic.

People have incorrectly labeled The Catwoman character (never once refered to as Catwoman in the movie) as the most unnecessary character in the film and I couldn’t disagree more.  That moniker of “useless character” goes to John Blake who is played brilliantly by Joseph Gordon Levitt, a character carried by the charisma and on screen presence of JGL and not so much by the writing of the character.  Not sure if this character was shoe horned by a studio that saw a future in it or Nolan who thought the film needed a secondary hero.  Never the less Blake is serviceable but in the end wasn’t really necessary to central story.  Per usual Christian Bale plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman wonderfully, keeping consistent to the last 2 movies, despite the fact that at certain points he’s barely in it.  I won’t even get into the plot because your going to see it anyways but I do think even without mention of  The Joker, the movie still makes enough references to the previous two films to tie everything together. Another talking point is that thematically this is just as much a Batman movie as it is a move about urban warfare and socialism.  Much like Nolan’s reflection on the war on terror, here he holds up a mirror to the occupy movement and lets us draw our own conclusions.  The movie’s biggest flaw is my over excited imagination and the ever expanding mythology of the DC universe.  Nolan loves to throw curve balls at the audience but I thought in this film some of those surprises were a bit flat given the pallet of mythology he has to piece this film together.   When it’s all said and done this is another great Batman flick by Christopher Nolan, not the best but looked at as a whole it’s a satisfying wrap up to the trilogy.

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~ by ATOM on July 21, 2012.

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