Director: Christopher Nolan Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotilard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman Genre: Action, Drama MPAA: PG-13
It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.
But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.
Our Megareview will comprise of reviews from a few members of TMB staff in traditional “Good, Bad” style as well as a review by Anthony which can be found here. You can skip to the review from your favorite writer or enjoy all that we have to offer and read the whole thing. Welcome to the Mega Review for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’:
I really enjoyed the performances all around. It’s easy to compare Bane to Ledger’s Joker and equalize the debate on which villain you liked more. But you can’t, because both villains while rooted in chaos and destruction, they are completely different. Tom Hardy does a fantastic job of carrying a presence if not by sheer mass of size and imposing nature, but also by the subtle emotional characterization he’s allowed to present with slight mannerisms and focus of his eyes. Anne Hathaway’s ‘Catwoman’ and I quotation that simply because that’s what the audience refers her too. Hathaway provides a cynical and stoic demeanor which helps balance and provides the right amount of indignation to what is happening to the world around her. Her character is offered in doses and provides just enough playing to the theme of morality. Gary Oldman does a great job as a bitter and aged Commissioner, who while carrying a burden of loss and regret still does his job in a dutiful manner. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become growingly more fun to watch on-screen, he is the character without a mask in this final chapter, as Gordon’s right hand he provides the charismatic energy needed to balance the now hardened veterans of the franchise. Marion Cotillard represents an uncertain hopefulness in an uncertain Gotham, her performance is consistent as you would expect it to be which comes hand-in-hand with her undeniable screen presence. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine’s character arcs with Lucius and Alfred respectively, simply rounds out the wonderful cast we have been privy to in this franchise. Lucius plays to the hand of caution despite the eight years of pseudo-peace, while Alfred’s character has grown uneasy and worried in his care for Bruce. And lastly Christian Bale is at his best in this final chapter. I think it’s a real testament to how by the end of the film, you see the Batman as a symbol he was meant to be and Bruce Wayne as the actual figure behind the idea. Bale does a great job of playing both characters but seemingly becoming one and the same. I think it’s also with reason why we have so much Bruce in this final chapter. By going back to how it all started, The Dark Knight both rises and ends.
The expectations were so high for “The Dark Knight Rises” that it seemed to be destined to fail. So did the film meet those expectations? No it did not. I am not saying this was a bad film, far from it actually, but the wow factor has been strongly diluted from what this film’s predecessor brought to the screen. “The Dark Knight Rises” serves its purpose as a proper closure to the franchise, but its focus on closure tends to rush the audience through some moments that leave us yearning for more and other moments that keep us yawning for less.
Nolan has an undeniably amazing eye for film. His consistent use of IMAX technology to capture panoramic views of Gotham city is a visually breathtaking experience. In addition to the panoramic shots he is able to capture each scene in proper perspective as if you weren’t watching a film and instead you were looking at the scenes through the characters’ eyes. This is a reason why so many of his films are so captivating because it is so easy to get lost in the film when you forget that you’re watching a movie.
The characters are truly dynamic. The ones that have been established from the previous films still hold that dynamic while the newcomers mesh nicely into the storyline. The intrigue of these characters can be partially credited to the screenwriting but even more so to the actors that portray them, they are undeniably an established group that are at the top of their league. Bale maintains the duality of Bruce and Batman, providing both strength and vulnerability that is a spine tingling depiction of relentless human spirit. The ability to overcome his personal inadequacies to protect the city is inspiring and emotional as we see Batman return to rescue the city. A few other notable performances were Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anne Hathaway. Caine brought an array of emotional dialogue to the film as the one father figure that Bruce had in his life. His concern for Bruce was heartfelt and emotional as displayed through their dialogue in each scene. JGL is just a brilliant actor in general. He is the next big thing and proves it with every film. As a common street cop, he brings a level of heroism that is comparable to Batman himself. Anne Hathaway was a big surprise for me. I did not see Catwoman/Selina Kyle working in the Nolan universe, but she pulled it off. Her purpose in the film was apparent and her ability to hold her own made sense. With her innocent and sexy exterior that she hid behind, she had the element of surprise with every opponent and I could totally see her kicking some ass.
I loved the story but it’s a good/bad relationship. The great thing about it was that it completed the circle which is always something I look for in a trilogy. There are a lot of facts revealed about the League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul’s origin. Bane was a powerhouse on both a mental and physical level which truly brought the ”breaking the bat” aspect into the film. It was interesting to see the villain change from someone who was a mental challenge to someone who was a physical challenge; it was a villain that made sense with Batman being much older and more worn.
This is not a fun movie. It’s a strange expectation to have and after The Dark Knight I felt that this movie would be that much more. In fact coming out of the theatre, I simply thought The Dark Knight Rises was just ‘ok.’ But it was an odd reflection afterward as I did not expect to be presented a straight forward contrast – it was a surprise. From a plot perspective its straight forwardness and structure while gives a rigid and solid direction is also its crutch. The anarchy is made to make sense, the journey of what needs to happen makes even more explicit sense and tying things together from the beginning, middle and to this end need to work. Because of this from a relative story perspective, it gets messy, strange nuances or odd pacing of continuation stand out more. You question how quickly that issue was resolved or in the same sense, how convenient it was resolved. There is an inherent illusion in the works because there has to be, the film pretends to hide the idea of ‘more’ when there really isn’t. And even with a runtime nearly three hours, the messiness as it was, there just isn’t enough time to sort out every little detail.
What we’re left with is a strict drama. It’s not meant to be fun, but more so real. While this film might be about the Batman, it doesn’t show enough of him to warrant bringing your kid to watch it. I’d go as far as saying this movie isn’t for children. But since the franchise carries that large demographic it has to be presented in a playful and acceptable manner that works seemingly for all ages. It’s a thought that if Nolan could’ve, would he have been even more brutalizing of what goes on in this movie? We saw it being touched upon already in The Dark Knight and the level which it’s carried through in The Dark Knight Rises, could certain scenes have been more impactful with a more visualized graphic sensibility? It’s a fine line to cross, especially with Batman’s own “no guns” policy. So how do you make it work and still make it believable? I think with this final chapter, there is less suspension of belief due to the dramatic overtones that in most cases the ‘reality’ of this world simply falls shorter than it should. But that’s the criticism you get when a film isn’t fun. You take it more seriously because you have to.
There were many things that I liked about the story but there were also quite a few things I didn’t like. I liked the story regarding Bruce but I thought there was too much Bruce and not enough Batman. When Batman appeared on screen I was excited and ready to see the movie get started, but then there was a long Batman hiatus and my excitement slowly dwindled away in anticipation of Batman’s next appearance. With the lack of Batman, there came a lack of things we loved from previous films such as an abundance of action, new weaponry and gadgets, and use of Batman’s detective skills. Even if Batman didn’t appear, there still could have been scenes where Bruce was researching and investigating things pertaining to the villain. There were multiple instances in “The Dark Knight” where Batman put his detective work to use, but in this film I can’t remember one significant scene.
In addition to the lack of Batman, there were multiple areas that lacked explanation and I think they could have been explained by taking some focus off of the supporting cast, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the League of Shadows. The middle was excruciatingly long at times and it could have easily been cut to make room for explaining what happened over the past eight years, more detailed origins regarding Selina and Bane, and oh yeah…SOME MORE SCREEN TIME FOR BATMAN!!
It’s easy and hard at the same time to compare where The Dark Knight Rises stands versus Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Because in essence one does not work without the other and some might argue that a film’s merit is also determined by how it stands out on its own. The Dark Knight Rises was the most consistent out of the three films I thought. Like the score carried a growing crescendo, there was an inherent weight that was brought from the previous two films that needed to be broken. In both the literal and figurative sense, with the story and its characters – it’s a weight that is both physical and emotional. Bane said it best “I wondered what would break first. Your spirit? Or your body?” in his first confrontation with the Batman, a brutal and visceral beat down of the Batman, which you can imagine happen but don’t ever believe, will happen. But it needs to happen, not just from a story perspective. But because of the ideology Nolan has created and really wants to hammer home. Rise and rise again and simply like Bruce’s father asks him “why do we fall?” There is both a complexity of complacency of when you are victorious and what motivates you next but also is mirrored with Bruce’s own inner demons and what is his ‘end’. And that’s what we learn here in this film, but more so where it ends up.
Unlike The Dark Knight, which was real chaos and confusion, there isn’t anything to hide with the final chapter, it is structured and organized, but there is still so very much left to learn. The ‘Nolan-verse’ as it were for this Batman story is so effectively grounded with its contrasts of simplicity and complexity. In Batman Begins we had disorder and an idea – an idea that a symbol could become something to build a foundation upon. In The Dark Knight, we had these symbols challenged with the inherent morality of good versus evil, defined by Harvey Dent’s quote “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” But what happens to the decisions and choices you make, how do you deal with them? Or simply put what happens to you? The Dark Knight Rises in the simplest ways finishes what it started. Because of this, it provides a complete story from start to finish and gives that proper endnote to what has become one of the most memorable trilogies of the past decade.
The discussion and talk for this franchise will carry along for awhile. For me, two curious things are left in the air. In The Dark Knight Rises, we saw a strictly organized and militarized anarchy with Bane. So after the film ended I wondered, part in due to the Joker’s charismatic and just maniacally crazy nature. Had the Joker succeeded, what version of Gotham’s anarchy would we have been left with by contrast? Or is the real reason he failed because it was never planned properly to begin with? The Joker just gambles whereas Bane commits. It’s a curious thought.
And finally, where does Warner Bros. go from here? I’m definitely in the camp I do not want to see another origin film. Or do you leave this franchise and make it work within a Justice League movie? Or what is the next Batman film? Frankly speaking I loved the open-ended closure The Dark Knight Rises finishes with. It’s enough to keep us speculating, but it’s enough to give us hope and belief in what was implanted within this particular trilogy. It’s an endnote not a ‘The End’. I think though perhaps a Batman Beyond series? With the futuristic sensibilities it could provide, would that work? It’s just too impossible to see Warner Bros. sit on this franchise without a ‘what’s next’ already in tow.
In the end, The Dark Knight trilogy has been a fantastic ride. I cannot wait to own The Dark Knight Rises so I re-watch all three films in succession. Also really enjoyed the fact that this movie was NOT in 3-D.
I’m not going to score The Dark Knight Rises, simply because for me while each film is its own, overall all three films are not one without the other. The weaker parts are balanced by the stronger parts from one another and everything is carried through in a ‘complete’ manner together. And at the end of it all, that is more than I could’ve asked for to end this trilogy. As an audience we rarely see a vision carried through like this from start to finish, it is a sincere consistency and intent.
I will be in the camp that says The Dark Knight is the more standalone film and I think it’s merely due to Heath Ledger’s performance. There was an undeniable perfect storm with the first sequel.
The Dark Knight trilogy is a 9 out of 10.
Overall this is another Nolan masterpiece. It is not “The Dark Knight” and could be the worst of the trilogy honestly but it is far from being deemed a bad film. The middle can be lengthy but I left the theater already wanting to see it again. I’m in awe of what Nolan does with a film and even though this did not surpass the others in the trilogy, it is a must see. My nitpicky criticism came from my expectations of Nolan as I hold his work to a different standard but I thoroughly enjoyed what he did with this trilogy and I am still confident in his abilities and confident in saying, “In Nolan We Trust.”
I give the Dark Knight Rises an 8.5 out of 10
Not the best of the trilogy but definitely a must see…