The Dark Knight Rises Review
Some Spoilers Ahead (I’m not really sure what counts as a spoiler these days)
It is so hard to live up to the hype. Nolan made us like Batman again with Begins and he showed us what the potential of super hero movies were with The Dark Knight. So much so, that people complained the movie was too good for a “Batman” movie.
The Dark Knight Rises starts eight years after Batman catches Joker and takes the blame for Harvey Dent’s (Two-Face) crimes. Bane, some sort of international mercenary that isn’t particularly interesting comes to Gotham to finish what Ra’s al Ghul started. He brings Batman to his knees and makes him watch as he wreaks havoc on the city. I think I’ll just categorize my thoughts into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Nolan is a great director. Regardless of the various problems with this film, he is really talented. The film looks great, and regardless of its overreaching length (168 minutes) doesn’t feel nearly as long as Lord of the Rings (which were certainly better movies, but definitely a tad long). Also, the music is nearly perfect. It almost felt like the score was this film’s greatest advocate. Whenever I was thinking this movie really needs to get good soon the music would swell and I would forget that I was bored, confused, or annoyed with something I was watching.
The plot of the film, though not flawless, was interesting, nuanced, and full. Do you like the Occupy Movement? There’s something for you. Are you angry at the government? Enjoy. Is philosophically charged dialogue your thing? Wax away. Overcrowding themes aside, there were very few moments where I didn’t feel engaged with what the characters were talking about. It might be said that Nolan tries to squeeze too many ideas into Rises. That would probably be a reasonable criticism. But it’s a big film in every single way: I don’t see why themes has to be different. Also, it seems to me that the whole point of Nolan’s Batman series has been to ground him, and his world, in the real world. The real world is complex, people have different agendas and ways of seeing the events around them. Rises is like that. What is important or meaningful to one person is filler to the next.
Michael Caine was great. He always is, but this is probably his best performance in the trilogy. Too bad he is only a supporting character.
Finally, Batman is probably the most interesting character in the film. This wasn’t the case the last two times so it is nice that the main character finally gets a break.
Batman and Bane were competing in what I can only assume to be a poor enunciation contest. That part was terrible. I can’t count on my hands how many times I couldn’t understand Bane. And Bruce Wayne’s “Batman” voice reminded me so much of Gob from Arrested Development that I would stop listening to him and start thinking about how funny Gob was.
Catwoman was lame. I think a lot of people will really like her. Probably mostly teenagers though. The same kind of teenagers that liked Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace. I have read a few reviews that have called her the best part of the movie. If that’s the case, then the spray is the best part of the sneeze.
The Joker isn’t in it. Of course, due to Heath Ledger’s passing, I wasn’t expecting him to be. But, his absence highlights an important observation. Ledger made The Dark Knight what it was. If you subtract the Joker from The Dark Knight you get The Dark Knight Rises. The return of almost every other character in some way, shape, or form only makes his absence more obvious. Probably a misstep on Nolan’s part to invite everyone back without having the ability to bring back the most interesting character of the series (and maybe the last ten or fifteen years of films overall).
This is, without doubt, the weakest film out of the three, but it is still very good. It is probably better than anything else that has come out so far this summer. It is deep and engaging. The acting is above average and visuals are excellent. Go see it.