Dark Knight Rises Review
- September 6, 2012
- Posted by: Ryan Keyworth
- Category: Uncategorized
Another review, another superhero movie. Is it just me or is walking into the movie theater becoming way too similar to walking into a comic shop? Never mind. Let’s just get to the review. Batman is one of the most renowned and admired super heroes in all of comicdom. He has always had a strong following, and is no stranger to Hollywood, but, the masked vigilante who protects Gotham has rarely ever been portrayed as anything other a cheesy cornball. Tim Burton did a good job introducing the character to the wider audiences in the manner he should have been all along in 1989’s Batman. Sadly, even he could not help but devolve the franchise into silliness, Batman Returns being evidence of that. Then Joel Schumacher came along and took a crap in everyone’s pie when he made Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. Since then, Batman has been a joke in the film industry. That was until Christopher Nolan brought us Batman Begins, a gritty, realistic and artistic take on the Batman lore, and its outstanding sequel, The Dark Knight. He struck gold twice, but can he do it a third time with The Dark Knight Rises?
The Dark Knight Rises takes place roughly 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne has permanently hung up his cape and cowl, and lives a life of seclusion in the now fully reconstructed Wayne Manor. His life as a gentleman of leisure is about to come to end, as a new villain threatens the city of Gotham. That villain’s name is Bane. Wayne decides to suit up as the Batman for one more battle against the vicious menace known as Bane before he and his legion of loyal followers destroy the city of Gotham.
The story that The Dark Knight Rises tells is quite brilliant, epic, deep and extremely poignant. I just wish it was not told so poorly. Yes, The Dark Knight Rises is a very flawed movie, but its flaws lie more with the execution of the narrative than anything else. Nolan is at top form for the most part, bringing his breathtaking cinematography, exciting action, and a deep sense of emotion to the party. However, it seems logic, consistency and storytelling was not invited. The way the story is constructed leaves much to be desired. Batman’s last outing proves to be overly complicated than what is necessary. It is as if the filmmakers felt they needed the story to be complex for the sake of complexity. There are tons of subplots that simply feel like padding rather than an organic extension of the primary plot. Too often is the story that needs to be told lost in the confusion of the labyrinthine narrative. The McGuffin of the tale also had me rolling my eyes. It was trite and clichéd, and seemed to exist in an effort to artificially create tension, rather than rely on the merits of the tension itself.
Thankfully, most of the narrative flaws are easily overlooked thanks to the excellent characters and fantastic performances from the entire cast. Each character arc comes to fruition, and the cast hits the ball out of the park, in (nearly) every instance. The old favorites, like Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Cain, and Morgan Freeman, are as excellent as ever, while the new additions like Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were equally entertaining. But there was one person in this cast who everyone was looking at with curiosity. That person was Tom Hardy as Bane.
If you recall, the last time Bane was featured in a Batman movie, he was a giant, dumb, thug of a man who could only say, “Baaaaane.” Basically, he was an enormous zombie who had difficulty pronouncing his R’s. Bane in the comics is nothing like that. He is highly intelligent, super strong, cunning, manipulative, cold and calculating. Out of all of Batman’s foes, Bane is the only one who can challenge the Dark Knight on both a physical and intellectual level. Initially, it seems like we finally got the Bane we deserved in a Batman movie. However, as the tale progresses, Bane seems to lose these qualities, eventually devolving into the dumb thug persona fans despise. Rest assured, while Nolan’s take on Bane may not be fully accurate, it is close enough to make us comic nerds forget about the horribleness that was Bane in Batman and Robin.
Was Bane as much of a knock out as Joker? Or even Two Face? No. But he can stand alongside them. Had Bane been better developed and had clearer motivations, then perhaps he could have dethroned the clown prince himself. However, what we got is not too bad either. Tom Hardy did an excellent job as Bane, focusing more on the physicality of the character. Hardy focuses on Bane’s power, or perhaps obsession, with intimidating his foes. Everything about Bane is so cold and intimidating, right down to his movement. While Hardy’s voice was not very Bane-like to me, he did manage to bring a terrifying and cold confidence to the role. Despite all of this, Bane is still not quite as accurate to his comic book counterpart as he should have been, but it’s close enough.
My biggest problem with The Dark Knight Rises is that it lacks Batman, in more ways than one. Firstly, Batman is hardly in the movie at all. Christian Bale seems to get very little screen time, whether as Batman or Bruce Wayne. We only see Batman for, what I estimate is, a grand total of 15 minutes of screen time. For the most part, the movie is pretty much Bruce Wayne hobbling around here and there, or talking with this guy, or escaping that, or whatever. There are no Bat gadgets, no Batmobile, no gliding, no detective work, nothing that defines Batman takes center stage in this installment. In fact, most of the movie is Commissioner Gordon and the cops vs. Bane, and not Batman vs. Bane. One could make an argument that the whole story is about Batman learning how to fight his battles without the assistance of his gadgets, or his training, but those are the qualities that define Batman’s style of crime fighting. It’s like writing a comedy, but removing all of the humor because you want the comedy genre to be free of its reliance on humor. Who wants to watch a comedy that isn’t funny? Who wants to see a Batman movie that isn’t about Batman? Even the approach to the character in this installment does not feel very Batman-like. It’s more like Superman. To describe what I mean by that enters into serious spoiler waters, so for now, I will just leave my statement as is.
The Dark Knight Rises is one of two of the most hyped movies this season. While I can honestly say that The Avengers lived up to the hype (and then some), I unfortunately cannot say the same thing about The Dark Knight Rises. That is not to say it’s bad. No way. It’s just the worst of Nolan’s Batman films. In fact, I would say it is the worst movie Chris Nolan has ever made, which is a testament to the man’s talent. Overall though, it is an excellent movie worthy of your time. It’s not as good as it could have been, but it was still a fine film and manages to bring the Dark Knight saga to a brilliant close. Every plot point is resolved, each character completes their journey, and the whole tale comes full circle, and that is far more than most other recent threequels have been able to accomplish. One thing that really should be noted is that Batman has never really ended. This is completely new ground Nolan had to trek across, and while he certainly succeeded, I do not believe he necessarily triumphed. I give The Dark Knight Rises, 8 out of 10.