MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The Dark Knight Rises


Running Time: 2 hrs 40 min
Release Date: July 20 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)

My Rating : 9 out of 10. Maybe 9.5

From the ashes, The Dark Knight rises – review by OBS Staffer Karolina_Avalon

Okay – a couple of warnings; This review is being written by someone who has considered herself a bat-fan since she was 8 years old (in most of the Bat adaptations) – and she’s now pushing 30. Whether this is a good or bad trait – I’ll leave that to you to decide!

Warning number two: As a comic book fan – I am going to mention some plot points that are taken directly from the comics – and there is a lot I want to say about the throwback to the comics. Now, I swore to myself that I am not going to spoil some major plot twists – no matter how much I WANT to talk about them. However – if you want me to spoil you – or you have seen the movie want to talk about the twists – I am MORE than happy to talk about them in the comments! But, please! Warn for spoilers before you start talking, k? :-)

On to the review!

The movie takes place 8 years after the chaos that the Joker inflicted on the citizens of Gotham and the untimely death of District Attorney Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent, who has been hailed a fallen hero by the police department (and, one Commissioner Gordon) after being brutally killed by vigilante madman, the Batman. One good thing that has come from Mr Dent’s death? The passing of the Dent act. One of the main features of the Dent Act states that there can be a denial of parole – for any one who commits a crime that is either a part of function of a larger crime syndicate – which ultimately means that the majority of Gotham’s most hardened criminals are safely locked away in Blackgate Prison/ Penitentiary and Gotham has been almost crime free for 8 years. Something that appears to weigh heavy on Commissioner Jim Gordon’s mind, as he prepares to tell the truth about Harvey Dent- images of his once-friend holding him and his children hostage in his maddened state flashing in his memory. Gordon holds his tongue though, and Dent continues to be celebrated. Meanwhile, it appears that  Mr Bruce Wayne has also become a recluse after the passing of his love, Rachel Dawes. He has not been seen for 8 years either. How strange.

Due to the actions of one cat burglar by the name of Selina Kyle (wonderfully played by Anne Hathaway), and an evil, almost superhuman madman named Bane (Tom Hardy); both Bruce Wayne and Batman are forced out of the shadows and into the light once again. Bruce is forced to deal with not only the demons surrounding Rachel’s death, but also the memory and remnants of the League of Shadows and the seeds planted by Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) in Batman Begins. To add to Bruce’s dilemmas, his oldest confidante ( and closest person to him) Alfred Pennyworth, seemingly abandons and betrays the man he has cared for since he was a baby, by leaving Bruce and telling him of Rachel’s letter( which had stated she had chosen to marry Harvey). Alfred leaves – claiming that he can not bury another member of the Wayne family. Commissioner Gordon is also out of action, being blown out of the sewers by Bane – where the villain’s lair lies. However, Bruce and Bats are not alone, finding helping hands in the shape of Lucius Fox, Selina Kyle and a new Gotham cop, Officer ‘Blake’ (who quickly curries Commissioner Gordon’s favour and becomes Detective Blake) (Blake is played by one of my favourite actors, the awesome Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

As a movie – The Dark Knight Rises is great. It has awesome effects – the batcave is as impressive as always – the Batman’s “toys” are amazing, the batcycle designed so it never tips – and a batplane that Lucius calls “the Bat” and tells Bruce that, yes, it does come in black, is also an amazing piece of machinery. A disappointment for me was the fight scenes between Batman and Bane. They use the close, confined space fighting method of battle that was taught to both of them by Ra’s Al Ghul through the League of Shadows; but it just didn’t make the same impression on me that it did in the first movie. Bane’s voice too was a point of contention for me. There were moments where I couldn’t understand poor Tom Hardy, whom I really admire as an actor. So, yes, that frustrated me. Also, the chaos that Bane created was really hard to watch in some places, and the tragedy that took place in Colorado made those scenes even worse. That was probably it though. The chase scenes were great and left me on the edge of my seat. I mean, there are parts of the movie that are very unrealistic, but you can suspend your disbelief because come on, this is a comic book movie. That being said? One of the things I loved about this movie is that it doesn’t FEEL like a comic book movie. It feels like a BATMAN movie. If you don’t know what I mean, see the movie, and you’ll get it. The acting was phenomenal, by all (I had missed Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox so much – and Christian Bale was amazing). The Dark Knight Rises breaks through the devastation of The Dark Knight and comes out the other side, the Batman bursting through the embers with a new set of wings. It connects all three movies beautifully, and has a very satisfying ending.

Now, Here’s your warning – here comes the comic book fan version of my review. Feel free to stop reading here.

As a fan of the Comics? I was not very excited for this movie. Especially with the announcement that Bane was going to be the villain. The Knightfall storyline in the DCverse is a critically important one. Especially for the WHOLE Batman family – which, in Nolan’s version , consists of Bruce – and Alfred. That’s pretty much it. For me; and I said this to almost anyone who would listen (sorry, friends and family!), the story of Bane breaking Bruce’s back did not work without Bruce’s supporting cast – ESPECIALLY Dick Grayson. Also, anyone who knows me that Dick Grayson has been my favourite character (on par with Bruce) of the comics – and I always knew that Dick’s character (and Robins in general) has always been a contentious one in film – so I was ready to be disappointed. One of my closest friends, Mary, saw the movie before me – and when she asked me if I had seen it yet, I gave her an answer that kind of equated to “Meh”. To which she said “No. Karolina. YOU HAVE TO. It works. It’s the best of the three movies.” And yes, Mary, I bow to you, because you’re right. It was. Nolan, as your swansong in the Batsverse, I love you and your work, more than I can say. There were SO many nods to comic book fans. Selina, Anne Hathaway’s Selina , was so reminiscent of the 1940’s version I squealed and couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. And she still managed to be so badass. The MINUTE Bruce catches her stealing from him, and her answer is a smirk and a deep-voiced “Whoops”, I was sold on her. The outfit is perfect, even with the six inch heels –which Selina uses as weapons (literally!). Selina, like in the comics is sassy and sarcastic and sly – and manages to get herself into really, really BAD situations. Which she gets herself out of. It was so refreshing to see one of the strongest DC female characters played in this way. And – for comic book geeks – I’m going to drop a name here, what is Selina without Holly “Go-Nightly” Robinson? OOOOH, YEAH. Nolan also uses Daggett ( a villain not from the comic, but from the animated series) as an ally of Bane, which was interesting. Talia Al Ghul is present as well, and is every bit as cunning as her father (Marion Cotillard played this really, really well). There are a few other comic book character names I could drop, but I don’t want to spoil too much. As for Bruce/Batman’s support system? This comes in the form of Blake, a new cop in Gotham – one who has grown up in a Wayne Enterprises orphanage, and who has figured out the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Detective Blake is sarcastic, strong-willed and not afraid to say what he thinks, and call people on their shit. He forms a strong bond with both Commissioner Gordon and Bruce/Bats, and is paramount to Gotham not falling as far as it could during Bane’s insanity, and ultimately to Gotham’s salvation. The whole movie not only had a Knightfall feel to it, but also sort of ventured into “No-man’s land” territory for me. Nolan managed to piecemeal Batman lore with his own version of Bats almost seamlessly. And, much to my surprise and delight, the last 5 minutes made me flail and scream in my seat – a very satisfying ended – which is open-ended enough to allow this bat-fangirl for life’s imagination run wild with possibilities.

So, I can safely say, as a movie buff and as a comic book/batman geek – The Dark Knight Rises is the perfect ending to this Batman trilogy, tying up loose ends and giving the fans something to talk about for what I imagine is going to be a very long time (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself).

 

What did you think? What did you like / dislike about the movie? I’d love to know!