The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

As perhaps the most anticipated film of the year and final installment of director/writer Christopher Nolan‘s interpretation of the Caped Crusader, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has a lot to live up to.  Well, I’m happy to say that Nolan once again delivers a film that not only entertains but continues his tradition of intelligently touching on several current day issues and complex themes on humanity.

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

Eight years after the Batman took the blame for the death and murders of Harvey Dent, Gotham is finally finding peace led by Commissioner Gordon’s (Gary Oldman) implement of the Dent Act.  With criminals behind bars and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a recluse to his mansion, a new breed of villain has been carefully plotting a Gotham take over by exploiting the lies from which the city has thrived upon.

Having so much time passing since last in action and injuries sustained from years of crime fighting as a masked vigilante, Bruce Wayne/Batman is a little rusty this time around.  His depths and growth as a character travel new distances as Batman must rely on the help of others while taking on a well-disciplined and combat-ready foe in Bane.

Using a fortified breathing support mask, Bane is not only intimidating with his raw brute force but also in the way he speaks.  Tom Hardy masterfully takes on the role without the help from his face, using only his voice and mannerisms.  Bane’s terrorist acts start with an exhilarating opening sequence during a midair sky-jacking of a CIA plane that properly sets the stage for the 165 minute movie (make sure to go light on the soda and use the restroom beforehand).

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises

The supporting cast is massively important to the overall story that should still remain mostly secret in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and does not simply rely on the old superhero format of pitting Batman against Bane.  Michael Cain as Alfred has some powerfully emotional scenes as he worries what will and is becoming of master Wayne, Morgan Freeman returns as head of Wayne Enterprises and weapons expert Lucius Fox, Anne Hathaway is craftily put together as a smart strong cat burglar (Cat Woman) Selina Kyle, Marion Cotillard plays Wayne Enterprise board member who desires a cleaner world and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a young cop/detective free from the corruption that seems to plague so many of life’s characters.

Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

As a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, my excitement went beyond loving what he has done with the Batman character.  MEMENTO, THE DARK KNIGHT and INCEPTION are among the best films in over a decade (check out their placement in my Top Ten List).  BATMAN BEGINS was the best superhero movie until THE DARK KNIGHT, so you can see with such high regard I hold not just the Batman series but all of Christopher Nolan’s work.  I would compare him to Pixar in the sense that nearly everything Nolan does is so great that he has made his standard too high.  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES may not be his best work, but it is still better than nearly everything else out there and only suffers due to the expectations it has set for itself.

Tom Hardy, Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

While I might forgive a film like THE AVENGERS for its flaws because it’s simply a fun summer superhero movie, I tend to scrutinize THE DARK KNIGHT RISES a little harsher because the film is, in this writer’s humble opinion, serious Oscar caliber filmmaking.  When I see unnecessary dramatic poses or smooches, pulled punches,  cops standing in the open during battle rather than taking cover or extensive exposition, I get a little irritated.  I’m the first to admit that I might be nitpicking, but Christopher Nolan has created this expectation of perfection.

Tom Hardy, Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

Even though the film doesn’t quite have the fresh perspective like BATMAN BEGINS or the overall pizzazz THE DARK KNIGHT provided with Heath Ledger’s joker, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES brings a raw power that is different from the other films, literally bringing the fight for survival into the open daylight.  While Hans Zimmer’s exquisite deep pulsating score is relatively the same, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has a much different visual tone in a much bleaker superhero world where pain and suffering feel a lot more real.  Nolan still manages to surprise the audience with exciting twists, turns and unmentionable plot points.  I’m sad to see it go but I’m happy to watch an appropriate ending to an amazing trilogy.


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