After The Dark Knight hit theatres in 2008, it wasn’t hard to believe that there would be a third film in Nolan’s Batman franchise. What was hard to believe was that it could even come close to touching what The Dark Knight had achieved. The brilliant story, the stunning visuals, and of course the performances that will never be forgotten, all were key parts to making The Dark Knight a huge success. When the announcement came that there would be a third film, The Dark Knight Rises, the fans were unsure of what to expect. Would this film be as good as The Dark Knight or Batman Begins? Could Christopher Nolan and Co. even come close to the success of the second film? Well I am here to tell you that the answer to those questions is a big, massive: YES!
Don’t worry, this review will be spoiler free. Anything I say in this review that pertains to the story will be what you already know from having read the synopsis or watched the myriad of trailers on the web right now. I am just going to tell you what worked, what didn’t work (which was pretty much nothing), and why this film is a MUST see.
The story of The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Batman has been declared an outlaw (although, technically, he was always an outlaw), and has disappeared from Gotham. The city has galvanized itself after the death of Harvey Dent and have put a stop to organized crime. But when the menacing brute known as Bane comes to Gotham City, Bruce Wayne must, once again, don the cowl. In a fight for Gotham City’s freedom from this new terrorist threat, he will need to once again become the symbol of hope for Gotham’s Citizens. But how will he overcome a threat as mentally and physically strong as himself, while dealing with the Gotham City Police Department and a seductive cat burglar? Well you will just have to watch and see for yourself.
First off, lets start off with the story. Christopher Nolan, Johnathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer, have out done themselves. After watching The Dark Knight, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, it was hard to believe that they could write something as compelling, deep, and incredibly rich as their second movie. But if you really think about it, Batman Begins was an incredible story and I thought it would be hard to top that. But The Dark Knight brought on an even deeper, more intricate story, so it is not surprising that the story of The Dark Knight Rises is incredible as well. It wraps up the series in such a succinctly sublime manner that it is hard to think that this wasn’t originally written as a trilogy. Threads from both previous movies make their way into this film. The themes of corruption, fear, chaos, and, as always, good versus evil, are all very much present in this film. I am not going into too much detail as to how each one shapes this film, as I would need to give much more away than I want to. But it is safe to say that this film ties the story of Bruce Wayne up into the package every fan could possibly want and with a the presence of the previous films and a few nods to the comic books, it really doesn’t disappoint.
As for the acting, everyone is stop on in their roles. After watching Heath Ledger as the Joker, I knew that no matter who Christopher Nolan picked for the leading roles of The Dark Knight Rises, that I would trust his judgment. And you Anne Hathaway naysayers will rue the day that you spoke negatively about the actress. She is plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman better than many of her predecessors (about a billion times better than Halle Berry). She is the femme fatale that Catwoman should be, portraying a character that is not only smart, but sexy and incredibly tough. After watching this film you will no longer bash Anne Hathaway. As for Tom Hardy, who plays the incredibly frightening Bane, it is hard to imagine anyone else in that role. Heath Ledger’s Joker was scary for many reasons. He just exuded this chaotic nature that bordered on insanity that you were scared of the unpredictability and anarchistic nature of the character. Bane is frightening for different reasons. Not only is he physically dominating in every scene, but his facial expressions beyond the mask, are just intense. Tom Hardy had to act with his eyes, and you see the exact emotion he wishes to convey behind his menacing looks. Of course, all of the other characters are incredibly performed once again. Michael Cain as Alfred again is the heart of the movie, stealing a few scenes away from Christian Bale. But that doesn’t mean that Christian Bale doesn’t perform the hell out of Bruce Wayne/Batman. He fully stepped up to the challenge of having to play a character that has really lost everything and really delivered on the emotional front. Of course, there are countless other actors in the film: Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard, and they all do wonderfully in their respective roles, and I could go on for days why each of them played their roles so well, but I will let you experience the film and realize for yourself why they were so great.
As for the cinematography and visual affects, this film really kicks things up a notch. The last film had some amazing set pieces and incredible shots of various action scenes, but this film takes it to another level. The war to save Gotham is so well choreographed that you are literally at the edge of you seat for the last act of the film. Wally Pfister who has worked with Nolan on all of the Batman films, has proven with this film that he is one of the best cinematographers of this age. If you can, I do recommend spending the extra coin and seeing this film in IMAX and experiencing it the way that Pfister and Nolan intended. With over an hour of pure IMAX footage, it is a beautiful piece of film making and it is hard to think of seeing it in any other format. As for the visual affects and the action set pieces, this film is definitely on par with any other blockbuster of this year. While it may not have as many explosions or CGI animation, the major scenes have you on the edge of your seat and just when you get to the edge and are pulled back, it throws you right back to the edge again.
Now, all movies have flaws. You have to look at it from so many angles that it can be hard to let yourself get immersed in the story while keeping that critical eye (which is why I often see a movie like this on more than once occasion). But this film was so enjoyable it was hard to find anything that might be considered detracting or jarring. Except on thing. Bane’s voice. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds frightening and fits the character perfectly. But when the prologue was released before Mission Impossible; Ghost Protocol, there were many audience members that had a hard time hearing him and understanding his lines. It was then reported that Nolan went back and edited it in a way to help clear up the dialogue. For the most part you can understand him perfectly. Even in that said scene, the audio was much clearer than when I first experienced it a few months back. But there were a few times that it was still incredibly hard to pick up every word Tom Hardy was saying. Not enough to make me upset or angry, but enough for me to notice. I would say that 95% of the time you can understand him, but there were a few scenes were I had to pay close attention to the dialogue. But that would be my one and ONLY gripe with this film.
Overall The Dark Knight Rises is a perfect closing to Nolan’s Batman franchise. It surpasses every one of my expectations (and my expectations were VERY high indeed). Whether or not it will gross as much as The Dark Knight did in 2008, especially with the hype surrounding Heath Ledger’s death, is unknown. But I believe that once people start seeing this film and the word of mouth spreads, it could be within the top ten highest grossing movies of all time. And furthermore, it will definitely get the Best Picture and Best Director nomination at next years Academy Awards. Whether or not they win is an entirely different argument, and I will say that, If it doesn’t I will boycott the awards for the rest of my life. So get out there and see why I have such high praise for this film and comment below if you agree or disagree with anything I have written here today!
Oh, and if you’re wondering why I didn’t give it my usual ‘whatever star rating out of five’, it is because that this movie is so good that I couldn’t possibly rate it on a scale so small. You’ll understand when you see it.
NERD IT UP!!!