I’d just like to take a moment before I give my review to acknowledge the horrific tragedy that occur at a midnight show of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora Colorado and express my most sincere condolences to the victims and their families. As I walked into work early this morning with fresh thoughts of this movie and my review for it swirling around in my head (after watching a local midnight showing), I was greeted with the news of the horrific incident and was just stunned and disgusted.
The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the highly publicized death of District attorney Harvey Dent. Shortly after his death the mayor of Gotham passes the “Harvey Dent Act” giving Gotham’s police force headed by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) expanded power to fight and defeat organized crime. The resulting era of peace and calm in the city however is not without its dark side.
While Gotham’s wealthy elite have prospered its middle class and underprivileged continue to suffer. Also, the Batman has not made an appearance in years and his ability to evade capture is now the lone blemish on Gotham’s successful record of law enforcement. Millionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse and while the years of crime fighting have taken a great toll on his body worse yet is the apparent identity crisis Wayne grapples with since the Batman is no longer needed.
It’s in this setting that we are introduced to Bane (Tom Hardy), a ruthless warlord that wants Gotham to pay for its shameless greed and decadence . With Bane’s appearance Bruce re-emerges as the Batman and with the help of a very fierce and capable thief named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) leads Gotham’s police force in an all-out war with the city hanging in the balance.
Waking in, I had so many concerns for this movie. How would Christopher Nolan top what in my mind is the best action movie ever made in The Dark Knight? Early still shots released of Anne Hathaway as the Cat Woman were cringe worthy; could she really fit into this universe? For comic book fans, Bane is a known villain but could he be taken seriously with a wider audience? The movie is almost three frikin’ hours long, would it be able to hold my attention? On each count TDKR soars above my expectations. Tom Hardy give us a great physical performance as Bane while wearing what looks like evil scuba gear over his mouth for the entire movie. It doesn’t hold a candle to Heath Ledger’s Joker, but really, was anyone expecting him too?
Anne Hathaway continues to show us more of her “dark side” as Selina Kyle (I don’t think she’s called Cat Woman once in this film). There are other good performances to mention here also like Mattew Modine as the image conscience Deputy commissioner Foley, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie Detective John Blake. Marion Cotillard who plays Bruce Wayne’s new love interest Miranda (no last name) was not given nearly enough to work with but is serviceable. Most of the new characters roles feed directly into the plot so I will not spoil anything for you by mentioning in detail what they do but I will say that the actual plot o this movie is far denser than my synopsis indicates.
Oh, and I feel like a have to say: IF YOU HAVENT SEEN THE OTHER TWO NOLAN BATMAN MOVIES I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU DO SO FIRST BEFORE SEEING TDKR. The only instance in the film I can think of that was not to my liking, was a “surprise” twist that takes place towards the end. I don’t think it was setup properly and I’m guessing it was supposed to have a much more profound effect on me but instead it kinda falls flat but the movie does everything else so well leading up to it that it doesn’t suffer from it at all.
TDKR is a more than worthy final installment to a trilogy of movies that’s done something that no other superhero franchise has done before. Movies like Spiderman 2, Ironman, or X-Men First Class tell us great stories with interesting characters and engaging plots but are sorely lacking in plausibility. That is to say never at any moment in those films do you think to yourself, “WTF, this could actually happen!!” Nolan’s Batman films however are grounded enough in our modern reality that as you watch them not only do you feel like it could possibly happen you are left asking yourself how you would fit into this reality if it did happen. By tapping into the very current and real sentiment surrounding the “Occupy” Movement and the whole 1 versus 99 percent argument in TDKR Nolan once again makes my point.
Is it as good as The Dark Knight? No, but not by much. Not by much.
By: David E.
Written by: David E.