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The Dark Knight Rises (No Spoilers)


I hope Christopher Nolan realizes what he’s done. With the epic stories he has put on the screen from this Batman trilogy to stuff like Inception, everything he does from now on will be held up to the highest of standards. We want our minds blown, so he better deliver! Well, with The Dark Knight Rises I wouldn’t say my mind was blown, but it’s definitely a good movie.

Grade (tentatively*):

Gotham City has been in a state of peace for eight years after the death of Harvey Dent and the signing of the Dent Act, which effectively cleaned up the streets and put criminals away for a long time. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is living a hermit’s life with his hobbled knees and broken heart. Alfred (Michael Caine) is worried about him, as usual, and nothing can bring Bruce out of his funk. In comes the sparks of cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), business associate/love interest Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), the hyper-strong, slyly intelligent Bane (Tom Hardy) and the youthful, hopeful Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to shake Bruce from his semi-slumber and force his hand for the return of the Batman.

That’s an incredibly simplistic plot description for a reason. The film is jam-packed with information and plot almost to the point of overload, which should be expected from a film at a(n almost literally) bladder-busting 164 min. The real question is where to begin. I’ll start with the most well-executed aspect (apart from an intense score that keeps your heart racing the whole film) of TDKR: the culmination of the trilogies plots.

TDKR is, simply put, a great end to a trilogy. It ties in all major plot points from its predecessors—except for the Joker, justifiably so. To understand much of the story for this film, one must have seen the previous two and actually remembered the key moments. Luckily, we get all of these moments deliberately placed within the overarching story of Bane’s drive for anarchy. (Semi-spoiler) The only reference that seemed a little forced was that of Liam Neeson’s cameo, but it’s so minimal that that can be forgiven.

As can be expected, the action scenes are well done and put on a grandiose stage. The opening sequence in the plane is quick, but amazing to watch even if it snuck its way into the trailers. Nolan does well to showcase Bane’s physical prowess as he snaps necks like twigs and defends against Batman’s advances with relative ease. Batman’s gadgets are shown prominently throughout as well, so essentially there is no shortage of eye-popping visuals. The look and feel of the film is fundamentally identical to The Dark Knight—obviously, since it’s Christopher Nolan’s work—so separating the two becomes difficult at times, which ends up being the biggest letdown.

By big letdown, I really mean mild disappointment, but it was a little unsatisfying that TDKR was SO similar to TDK in aesthetic and general plot. While the Joker focused on the human condition and its instability to remain on the side of good, Bane focuses more on overpowering the establishment with the rogues of Gotham. Regardless, the goal for general disarray (not Professor Chaos) is prevalent in each film.

     

There is so much more to discuss about TDKR, it’s hard to choose just a few things so you aren’t stuck here reading all day. First, I’ll go with Bane. I had trouble understanding him even after the changes made to his voice. The context made it easier to decipher what he said, but I think 35% of his lines didn’t make it through the filter unscathed. Some people have bemoaned Hardy’s ability (or lack thereof) to evoke any emotion from Bane’s character with his face. All you could see were his damn eyes and most of the time he was in a power-stance that required a stern look, so that complaint is a little useless. In any case, I thought Hardy, in combination with the Nolan brothers, did an excellent job bringing Bane’s superior intellect to the forefront. He could’ve just been a brutish waste of villainy (a la Batman and Robin), but instead he was given a superior brain and even some heart. While his motivations and speech were muddled throughout, he was still an intense force of evil as Batman’s other half.

Next, we have the excellent performances of the group. Michael Caine is a stalwart in the acting community for his talent and he brings his A-game to TDKR. There were times during the film I could have believed Caine thought Bale was his own son; there was that much tenderness and care in his eyes and speech. Kudos to Mr. Caine for finishing the series on Bane-strong note.

Gordon-Levitt comes in a close second, in my opinion, for his efforts as John Blake. TDKR gives him ample opportunity to dive into Blake’s backstory and JGL does well to keep his character relevant with so much occurring around him. Finally, Gary Oldman is seldom used in TDKR, but as we learned from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the man doesn’t need much to have an impact on a film. Obviously, Morgan Freeman and Bale do well, but they didn’t really surpass their previous performances in this trilogy.

Others have complained of plot holes, of which there are some, and the excessive length. I found the plot a little convoluted and unnecessarily complex, but that’s Christopher Nolan’s way, so pay attention. Even if I was modestly underwhelmed, I still found The Dark Knight Rises to be an excellent end to the trilogy, an entertaining film nonetheless and one that needs to be seen a second time* to fully grasp its impact.

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