The Dark Knight Rises Review
Nolan’s concluding chapter in his Dark Knight trilogy is not only a beautiful picture but also one of the most personal tales in this Batman saga.
Directors: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard & Morgan Freeman.
Run Time: 164 min.
US Release: 20 July 2012
UK Release: 20 July 2012
German Release: 26 July 2012
If you are interested in reading my reviews for the previous Dark Knight films, click on the following links: BatmanBegins Review, The Dark Knight Review.
In 2005 Nolan managed to do what nobody thought would be possible, he re-imagined one of the most notorious DC characters for cinema and gave him a gritty and very realistic world to play in. If Batman Begins is the body and The Dark Knight the heart of this saga, than The Dark Knight Returns is it’s spirit. Is it as good as the first sequel? Not really, but it is still one of the strongest Batman films I have seen on screen, with a big emotional pay-off. I loved every minute of this movie and, at least in my opinion, it had the perfect ending to a fantastic trilogy.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Eight years after the Joker terrorised the city of Gotham and Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s death, a new evil arises that is much more sinister and darker than anything Bruce Wayne has seen before. When the mercenary Bane breaks the Bat’s back and incarcerates him to torture his soul, while he goes out to destroy the city Bruce Wayne tried to protect so vehemently, the multi-billionaire/superhero needs learn that having fear might be a more potent ally than fearlessness. While mean he obtains aid from an unusual persona, the cat burglar Selina Kyle.
Nolan’s third Batman movie was inspired by Frank Millers “Dark Knight” comics and was fantastically scripted. While others complained about the lack of screen time for the masked crusader, I appreciated Nolan’s direction because it doesn’t tell the story of the man wearing the mask, but rather the tale of the man behind the mask; The Dark Knight Rises is the personal recital of Bruce Wayne! Since the night Harvey Dent died, Wayne has lived a recluse life inside the newly build Wayne Manor with only Alfred allowed to see him. Bruce has lost his way, but when Bane attacks, he sees a chance to redeem himself for Rachel’s death by sacrificing himself for Gotham, much to the horror of Alfred. Nolan relies on the power of emotion to drive his story and it pays off!
The facade of safety and peace that cracks open to release the terror of Bane, was a great metaphor for the cesspool that Gotham is for villainous vermin. Nolan also included a lot of in-jokes about more supernatural characters that Batman usually faces in his comic line, such as the little reference toward Killer Croc. In fact, a lot of the dialogues between characters were very tongue and cheek and had a healthy amount of humour that meshed well with the more emotional drama. The ending, open to interpretation, is typical of Nolan and I loved it.
There are just a few flaws I had with the story. The biggest of them was that the film felt a little too long. My other problem concerns the scene, where Batman stops Miranda Tate, alias Talia Al Ghul, and is about to fly the nuclear bomb out into the ocean. There is too much happening in that scene, it should have been just Batman towing the bomb away in “The Bat” and not spending precious minutes by giving Selina an incredible long kiss and having a chat with Commissioner Gordon about who he, the Batman, is.
By now, the audience is acquainted with Bruce Wayne & Alfred and it feels like we have known these characters for years, which makes the fallout between Wayne and Alfred that more emotional. Christian Bale was once again great as Bruce Wayne but it was Michael Caine as Alfred, who made me tear up because of his marvellous performance. I believed that he loved Bruce like it were his own son and that he couldn’t bare it to see him killing himself. It tore my heart apart to see him suffer that much at Bruce’s funeral.
Bane was a fantastic villain and Tom Hardy gave a terrific performance as the unstoppable mercenary, but his voice was muffled and the dialogues slurred due to the mask he wore. I was happy to see Bane being portrayed as the man he is, compared to whatever we obtained in Batman & Robin because if Ra's Al Ghul was the tactical match for Batman and the Joker matched Bruce’s intellect, Bane outmatched both in sheer brutal force.
Selina/Catwoman and Miranda Tate/Talia Al Ghul are Bruce’s two love interests in this film. Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard played them great! They are both very similar, in fact, it could be said that both are two sides of the same coin, because while Selina comes off as irresponsible and dangerous at first and Miranda as friendly and helpful, both show their true faces at the end of the movie. Catwoman finds her inner hero and Talia shows her true villainous face.
Gary Oldman once again blew me away as Police Commissioner Gordon, who is feeling extremely guilty and unhappy about the lie, concerning Harvey Dent, that he needs to uphold to keep the criminals incarcerated. Once the truth is released he sets everything in motion to rectify that mistake. Jason Gordon-Levitt was the one actor I wasn’t sure about when I saw the casting names, but he positively surprised as young Officer Blake, who not only knows who the Batman is, but can understand Wayne and his thirst for justice. The fact that Nolan somehow sneaked in a Robin in this last film was pretty genius and I loved how Bruce gave him the chance to continue his vigilante legacy.
The cinematography in The Dark Knight Rises was once again enormous, but there is a difference in comparison to the previous movies. While Batman Begins and The Dark Knight focused on the city of Gotham, the second sequel is a much more personal tale and the camera focuses more on the people than on the city. That doesn’t mean that Nolan did not show the audience beautiful panoramic shots of Gotham, just like in the previous films we obtain majestic moments that show us the grandness of Wayne’s home city.
Verdict: While The Dark Knight Rises might not be as epic as The Dark Knight, it did keep the bar up high and showed us that there is more to the Batman comics than just action and stunning-looking cinematography. This second sequel to Batman Begins is incredibly emotional and has a very personal story surrounding Bruce Wayne. The cast, old and new, were outstanding and gave incredible renditions that paid tribute to the characters in the graphic novels, and the practical effects used are simply beautiful to look at; especially Wayne’s new flying toy “The Bat”. If you haven’t seen this trilogy I implore you to buy it on Blu-ray or DVD. I will give The Dark Knight Rises a 9.5 out of 10.
Which movie was your favourite in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy? I know I wouldn’t be able to decide! Thank you very much for reading and if you liked this review make sure to share it.