Friday, July 20, 2012


Christopher Nolan’s third and final chapter in his Batman vision is a movie with massive scale, almost too big for the average filmgoer to comprehend. It is a natural progression; in the first film our hero found his calling, in the second he dealt with the escalation thanks to his actions. In the third act, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Batman/Bruce Wayne deals with the consequences of every action taken since act one. With so many pieces and parts finally coming together, RISES had to be a massive film; almost too big for its own good.
Eight years after Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) takes the blame for the death and crimes of Harvey Dent, the city of Gotham is flourishing thanks to the cover-up, aided by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). But the time of peace will come crashing down with the arrival of the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who is looking to bring Gotham back to the stone ages. Batman must return with aid of his loyal butler Alfred (Michael Caine), gadget-maker Lucius (Morgan Freeman), and rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), while also dealing with the mysterious cat-burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and corporate executive Miranda (Marion Cotillard).

RISES is a plot-heavy film with a lot going on. Nolan gives himself a lot to cut through. Most of it is thrilling; enough to give anyone cramps while gripping the theatre-chair, while other long segments take a lot of time to cut through all the plot. Some may find all the characters and storylines frustrating, but if they have enough patience and smarts to hang around to the end, they see that there is a payoff for everything. RISES is a slow, intense build with an excellent payoff.
Nolan seems to be paying more attention to the situation than his characters, and many, if not all of them are left behind amongst the carnage. There are some excellent character moments scattered throughout (most belonging to Alfred), but most of the emotion is lost. While the filmmaking on the technical side has never been stronger (it is shot and scored beautifully), there are some unfortunate, massive leaps of logic made for the sake of convenience. Still, RISES has enough action and drama to make anyone feel like they were hit by a ten-ton hammer by film’s end. There is a lot to love.

Christian Bale spends more time as Wayne than he does under the cape (Batman vanishes for a long period of time), but it is an important element of the film and Bale has never been better. Michael Caine’s Alfred has always been the emotional element of the films, and here he really shines. Anne Hathaway is perfect as Selina Kyle (never referred to as Catwoman), as is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman… they’re always awesome.
There is a lot to be said of Tom Hardy’s Bane. Bane is a brute force of a villain. He’s is Batman’s first physical match; he’s not the villain who will sit across the table with you and discuss the ethics of good vs. evil; he’s the villain who will break the table over your head. Hardy, whose face is half-covered by a creepy mask, sells the character with his even creepier eyes. It is a great physical performance. Nolan’s Bat-films have always been grounded in reality, and this one hits even closer to home with themes of class-warfare and urban terrorism hanging heavy over all the proceedings. The realism is nearly frightening, and Bane is the perfect character to drive it all. RISES is a film that could not have been made until this age.

The finale is not only breathtaking, but offers more twists and turns than a pretzel factory gone amuck. It is a rousing wrap worthy of applause and a perfect ending to this three-act Batman story. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES often gets weighted down by a bloated plot, but it is absolutely the finale we needed, and deserved.

1 comment:

  1. If there’s anybody in the world who could have made not one, not two, but three epic and great Batman films, it’s Christopher Nolan and it’s so sad to see him end it all. However, what a great trilogy he gave us and if anything, this movie should mainly be remembered and loved for that reason. Good review Alan.


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