Title: The Dark Knight Rises
Number: Two Hundred And Five
Directer: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Genre: Superhero War Drama.
Seen on: Cinema.
Seen Before: Never.
Starring: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine
Running Time: 165 minutes.
Favorite Performance: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake
Favorite Moment: The first fight between Batman & Bane has no music, and builds up tremendous tension. Bane is terrifying.
Favorite Line: “So that’s what that feels like?”
Thoughts: “The Dark Knight Rises” will always suffer from comparison to “The Dark Knight”. “The Dark Knight” was a once-in-a-lifetime film, where not only did you have the combined efforts of a top-notch director, script, and cast, but also had one of the greatest villains ever created, as portrayed by an actor at the top of his game, in Heath Ledger. So the question is, how does this film compare? Well, “The Dark Knight Rises” may not top “The Dark Knight”, but it completes the trilogy admirably.
The slow pacing of the film gradually quickens as it continues, allowing time for the audience to breath and be drawn in. The first 1/3rd is possibly the most important as it allows the previous two films to be expanded upon, demonstrating the aftermath of the death of both Rachel & Harvey Dent. The second 1/3rd then sets up the new plot into motion, and finally, the last 1/3d ties up not just the current film, but the entire trilogy. The time taken with the story allows the feeling of a true end, you could easily never have Nolan direct Bale as Batman again and not feel cheated. The introduction of new multiple characters is given time and levity, so the impact of their actions has resonance.
This is probably Christian Bale’s strongest Batman film, as it allows him his best character arc. The first film was of him developing from angry, bitter child into Batman. The second film concerned him dealing with the world around him as it changes. This film, shows him dealing with the losses he has entailed, and attempting to battle past a physical and emotional break, his end as Batman for eight years leading him to a reclusive life. This film has more in common with “Batman Begins” due to this, and Bale can feel proud of his work as both Bruce Wayne & Batman.
Other returning stars continue to resonate with the audience. Morgan Freeman is again kind and jovial, but also interacts more within the plot, his ingenuity familiar to the audience; Gary Oldman is his usual solid self, if slightly restricted in the first half of the movie, but the feel-good of his actions makes him as popular as ever; Michael Caine is almost the stealer of the film, and demonstrates how he has been the MVP of the series. He only had four main speeches in the movie, but each one had me feeling emotional, and by the end, I could easily imagine some cinemagoers were left in tears. The returning cast were as good as ever.
But what about the new characters? Tom Hardy is terrifying as Bane, whereas Heath Ledger’s The Joker was a representational force of chaos, Bane is an unstoppable force of nature, capable of destruction and maiming. Hardy has been accused of being slightly incomprehensible at times, but I personally had no problem, I felt that it gave him an alien quality to his stature, his leadership of his followers was akin to a cult, his followers willing to die without question. Hardy’s size also allowed him to physically dominate Batman, offering a visual representation of the rivalry between the two. Very happy with his performance.
Marion Cotillard had a smaller role compared to the others, whilst at the same time being involved from early on, her role slowly increased as the film continued, her relationship with Bruce Wayne akin to a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ style, as she attempts to inspire him to becoming human again. I liked this inclusion and thought it offered a different side to Bruce, his soft, appreciative side. Cotillard is solid and has an old fashioned beauty to her, which makes the relationship that much more interesting.
On the other side, you had Anne Hathaway. I feel that most people have pre-conceived thoughts on her: either people don’t like Anne Hathaway in general, or they prefer Michelle Pfieffer. I thought the original Burton Catwoman was very sexualised, but I thought the origin of her story was rubbish, a brain-fart of a decision - she was licked by cats into life? It just seems weird for weirds’ sake. Now, Hathaway, I haven’t seen a lot of, pretty much seen her in half of ‘The Princess Diaries’, where she demonstrated good comedic timing and physicality to her comedy; ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, which I didn’t enjoy, but thought she was fine; and that’s it. Because of this, I was allowed a very open mind, and I thought she did a fantastic job. During the entire film, she demonstrated a character capable of being meek, terrified, surprised, sensual, intelligent, conniving, underhanded, heroic…she goes through almost every emotion, whether natural, or a con by Selina Kyle. Hathaway had a strong presence, and is probably Nolan’s best written female character, as one of his flaws has been pointed out as questionably 2-dimensional female characters. Here, Anne Hathaway is Batman’s equal, not physically, but in intelligence and agility, Hathaway was the question mark for me, and I think she did a good job with it.
However, my favorite performance was the versatile, brilliant Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Introduced as police officer John Blake, he offers a connection between many of the characters, his characteristics making him both an everyday cop and also an inspiration for the normal citizens. He has scenes with almost everyone except Bane, if I remember correctly, and at times, he becomes a deuteragonist, the equal of Batman in terms of screen time, interacting with the plot at a similar level, and the performance was so good, I found myself thinking “Man, I wish John Blake had been in the previous three films.” JGL is a talent, and I hope to see him half as good in the upcoming ‘Looper’.
The film isn’t perfect, the slow pace may turn others off, and also, there may be a slightly awkward edit in terms of the passing of the time, but if you concentrate for the movie, the timing shouldn’t be a problem. Also, I enjoyed the slow pace, as it allowed character and story build, which for me, was just a positive. As I have already mentioned, this doesn’t beat ‘The Dark Knight’, but as the end of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, it completes the story perfectly. With a good use of cinematography and the strength of Nolan’s direction, you get a good depiction of the world you inhabit, with good use of scenery, as well as a haunting inclusion of snow during the final 1/3rd of the movie. One of my favorite elements was when explosions are set off in the second half, as the explosions are quite muted in comparison for most movies, it gives a more realistic and sobering feel to it, thereby adding to the undercurrent of a war drama. Supposedly, it is also worth reading “A Tale Of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, which has an act of inspiration upon the themes. This is rooted within reality, as is most of Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, which works well.
Overall, the film may be the weakest of the three as a standalone film, as it involves lots of flashbacks and themes from the previous films, but as the third in the trilogy, it ties up everything you could want answered. If you loved the previous two films, I do think you’ll find elements you love here, but it could be polarizing amounts, depending on your preferences. But for me? I couldn’t ask for anything more from Nolan.
Thumbs Up, 9 out of 10