The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

After all the marketing hype, all the drama and all the insane expectations, Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, has finally hit theaters.  At this point in his career, Nolan is a victim of his own success.  He’s made two near perfect films in THE DARK KNIGHT and INCEPTION and now we expect all of his films to take filmmaking to a new level.  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES had no chance of living up to our expectations, but if we put everything else aside and focus on what he’s presented us, I still think it’s hard to ignore some of the problems.

The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale and Michael Caine

The film picks up eight years after THE DARK KNIGHT, with Gotham seemingly having turned a corner, no longer in need of a masked vigilante to protect its streets.  As promised at the end of the second film, Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent’s (Aaron Eckhart) death and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has used Dent’s death as a symbol to motivate the citizens of Gotham into passing the “Dent law”, which he’s used to put away the city’s bad guys.  This has paved the way for Bane (Tom Hardy) to put his plan in motion, which is to finish the destruction of Gotham the way Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) once envisioned .

The Dark Knight Rises, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman

Unfortunately, not all is right with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.  The first thing to come to terms with is the fact there are several plot points that seem rushed and/or forced.  I was disappointed with the Bruce Wayne and Alfred “fight” as it seemed Wayne had grown over the past eight years and then instantly reverted back to his spoiled, rich self.  Miranda Tate’s (Marion Cotillard) taking over of Wayne Enterprises was confusing since Bruce Wayne and Lucious Fox were cautious of everyone and then it seemed Tate got their trust instantly, without having to earn it.  I loved Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (never referred to as “Catwoman”), but she was a shallow character with no background or motivations.  I wanted to know more about her and I wanted to know why Batman had so much faith in her.  I also liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of John Blake, but I felt there was an emptiness to his character that made it tough for me to get behind him.

Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises

I also have a fundamental problem with the decision to have Batman basically inactive during those eight years.  After taking eight years off from fighting and training, we knew Batman was going to have virtually no shot facing off against Bane, who was already made out to be nearly invincible.  Bruce Wayne also had a bad knee that required crutches, but was able to throw on a brace and walk fine as soon as he heard about Bane.  The inactivity and the rushing back into battle took away some of the intensity of the battle, even if the battle itself was exciting.  Those issues could have been resolved if there had been some other story for Batman during those eight years.  The knee problem was also unnecessary since it served no purpose when it was acknowledged in the beginning and then was completely ignored later in the film.

The Dark Knight Rises

Bane is a different kind of villain than what we’ve seen in Nolan’s films in that he’s reliant on his brute strength more than his cunning intellect.  He’s still hell bent on destruction, much the same way The Joker (Heath Ledger) was in the second film, albeit not as creative.  Nolan delivers with Bane, having Bane and Batman face off mano-y-mano twice, each time living up to what we would expect from a fight between two behemoths.  Bane is a worthy adversary for Batman and Tom Hardy does another fantastic job, breathing life into a character that has no real voice and no facial expressions.

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises

There were positives, of course, mainly with the fantastic ending.  I loved how Nolan wrapped up Bane’s story and I loved some of the big reveals.  I feel I could easily write a review detailing everything that I loved with the ending, but unfortunately, it would spoil the film for everyone that hasn’t seen it.  Let’s just say that the ending worked perfectly within the trilogy and was everything a fan could have asked for.  In that regard, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was truly the grand conclusion we all hoped it would be, even if it took a while and few missteps to get there.


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