Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review of The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The first 2 films, Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), turned director Christopher Nolan and main actor Christian Bale into superstars so I have been eagerly waiting for this film.

The film starts eight years after “The Dark Knight”. Since the night Batman vanished into the darkness, he has been blamed for the death of Harvey Dent. The leaders of Gotham, led by Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), has turned Dent into a hero by preventing ordinary people from knowing that Dent had been driven mad by the Joker.

In order to preserve the hard-won order of Gotham, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has accepted his role as the villain, hung up his mask and has turned into a recluse. His retirement would be broken by cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the terrorist known as Bane (Tom Hardy).

Now most people probably seen the film by now, but if you haven’t I will say this to you; see “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” first before watching this.

To truly understand how good this movie is, you really have to see the first 2 films first. With this new film, Christopher Nolan completes his trilogy and what a trilogy it is. The work Nolan started in “Batman Begins” and continued in “The Dark Knight” (2008) comes full circle in “The Dark Knight Rises” and the full saga of Bruce Wayne is riveting.

Christian Bale put in another good performance as Wayne but the star of the show has to be Tom Hardy.

Now Bane is not an easy character to get right. Most famous for breaking Batman’s back, most comic writers have a hard time writing Bane since his debut. Most end up writing him as some sort of human monster. The Bane in this movie is a monster but he is a weary one. Hardy’s Bane is a weary soul who is doing what he is doing because it is necessary, not because he’s enjoying any of it. This gave Bane a human side to his character and the movie was better for it. When the twist came in the end, it worked but it would not have made sense if not for Hardy’s great performance till that point. I will admit I saw the twist at the end coming but people will little to no interest in comics will probably get a good surprise at it.

Anne Hathaway had the thankless job of making people forget about Michelle Pfeiffer and while she didn’t entirely succeed, Hathaway also did a good job. Her Selina Kyle is a survivor who wants something more in life and her desperation to get it shone throughout the film.

It wasn’t just the story that was good in this movie; the action was there as well. From the start when Bane attacked an airplane in flight to the war along the streets of Gotham at the end, Nolan cranked up the pace of the action. “The Dark Knight Rises” has that rare mixture of story and action that worked well with each other.

Of course there are some parts of the story that didn’t quite work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, John Blake, was one of them. How can a guy smart enough to deduce that Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same person be surprise at the role Commissioner Gordon had in the cover-up of Harvey Dent's death? I mean right at the start, Commissioner Gordon gave a speech that he “saw” Batman kill Dent. However when the cover-up was revealed by Bane, Blake was somehow surprised that Gordon had a role in it. That just does not make sense.

I also feel that some of the side-stories in the movie are too long and kind of unnecessary. There are a lot of other moving pieces in this movie and I think Nolan put in 1-2 too many. He did a good work juggling them but I thought the side-story of Bruce Wayne's business rival John Daggett and of Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley were not really needed.

Overall however, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a good film that successfully concludes Nolan's Batman trilogy. I won’t say it’s the best film in the trilogy but “The Dark Knight Rises” is an ambitious, thoughtful, action film that ends it in a spectacular entertaining fashion. It’s a worthy finale to the best film trilogy in some time.

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