I Saw A Film Today… The Dark Knight Rises

The one complaint I’ve heard from some people about Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the Batman story in his Dark Knight trilogy is “they’re just too dark”. Which makes absolutely no sense to me. Bruce Wayne is a dark character. He has a primal and basic lust to avenge the death of his parents, and possible try preventing it from happening to another. So to think of a jolly Batman is something of an abomination in my eyes. Honestly I think Nolan has done to the films what Frank Miller did to the comics; stripped away the unnecessary bits and went to the basics of the man behind the mask.

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City has been surviving without Batman. Since the Dent Act went into effect, nearly a thousand criminals have been put away in Blackgate Prison. For the most part, Gotham is in a period of peace while Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been a recluse in Wayne Manor with his butler Alfred (Sir Michael Caine).

But a mysterious man wearing a mask named Bane (Tom Hardy) has plans of ruling then destroying Gotham. It’s time for Bruce to become Batman once again but when betrayed by a cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Bane takes control of the city and Bruce is exiled to a middle eastern prison.

In order to defeat Bane, Bruce must go back to his beginnings and remember why he donned the bat cowl in the first place. After returning to Gotham, Batman has little time to stop Bane. But he’s not alone. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), a hotshot officer named John Blake (Joesph Gordon-Levitt), Wayne Enterprises own Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and a few thousand of Gotham’s finest are all a prepared to take back their city. Let the battle for Gotham begin!

Maybe the greatest accomplishment of Nolan’s Dark Knight films are how close the films themselves reflect today’s actual headlines without focusing on them. Batman Begins capitalized on post September 11th fear and paranoia. The Dark Knight asked where does crime begin and justice end, which was reflective on a Bush-era of politics. This time around it is how fragile the economic structure is. Or more precisely what could possibly, however unlikely, take place when the disenfranchised and lower class are backed into a corner.  Is this film political? No, even if Rush Limbaugh would like you to think differently.

The film itself is a cinematic wonder. Christopher Nolan’s vision for Batman finally gives the masked protector a fitting story and more importantly a near-perfect ending. Nolan found a comfortable stride and pace with The Dark Knight and he further perfects it here. Unfortunately the last hour of the film was having difficulty retaining the fluidity that had started at the beginning. The pace began to have a frantic feel to it. It tiptoed on the edge of falling apart but never fully goes over thankfully. But for the average movie goer this will go unnoticed because of the sheer large size of the film.

When dealing with a film sequel of any caliber, it becomes inevitable to make comparisons to the previous works. I never really enjoy this portion of a review just for the simple reason that it usually diminishes the work of one or more of the films. If I were to have to rank Rises amongst the others in the series I would probably put it slightly in front of Begins and slightly behind Dark Knight, even if my personal favorite is Begins. But all three films are magnificent, easily in the top five comic book adaptations and a benchmark for the genre.

Bane is in my opinion the best villain the Dark Knight has had to face. This may shock or anger some but Ledger’s brilliant Joker isn’t as menacing as Tom Hardy’s performance as the revolutionist Bane. You never once question the motives or direction of the mysterious masked man. His opposite, Batman, is also at his best here. Bruce Wayne’s journey this time is one of rediscovery, questioning why he became his alter ego. This was the first time though that Bale’s “bat voice” was really distracting to me.

There were a lot of people who questioned if Anne Hathaway could portray Selina Kyle/Catwoman effectively. I had full faith in her and I’m happy to report I was right. She is smart and sly, two of the most important qualities of Kyle in my opinion. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also great. I didn’t really understand what role he would play in this film but I now realize why he is important. He is a reminder to Wayne and Gordon of the ideals they both used to have. Will there be a spin-off for either of the character? That remains to be seen. The rest of cast is great as well. Sir Michael Caine and Gary Oldman both put forth brilliant performances.

I would like to take a momentary diversion from the review to let go of some of my emotions and feelings about the shooting in Aurora because it’s been on my mind since I’ve learned about it. I’ve called every film theater I’ve gone to a sanctuary and a home away from home. It is a safe place from the troubles of the world. And someone came in to the sacred place and shattered that shield and that sense of protection. It is so sad that a troubled man would take advantage of these fans and film-goers in tarnishing an event that was meant to be a celebration of nerdism and cinema. My heart and my thoughts go out to those involved and to those who lost someone.

The Dark Knight Rises is a near-perfect, yet bittersweet send-off.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sensuality, and language.

**Poster by Midnight Marauder

*** Bat Tribute by unknown.

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One Response to “I Saw A Film Today… The Dark Knight Rises”

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