The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

On a scale of Return to the King to Spider-Man 3, how does this final act match up?

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, will Batman be a match for Bane?

"Oh boy, you are in for a show tonight, son"

With that one piece of dialogue, Christopher Nolan managed to emphasize the collective feelings of everyone in the audience. Of every person who bought a ticket and eagerly anticipated the final part of Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. But there always was that nagging doubt. That feeling that, perhaps Nolan stumbled and, like many film franchises before him, delivered a disappointing end to this trilogy. Regardless of whether it disappointed or not, one thing was sure: We were in for quite the show.

The problem with adapting a comic-book hero into a film franchise is that the comic-book doesn't end. It continues on and on, never truly delivering a finite ending, leaving it hard for those adapting the comics into films to go anywhere other than to the next story, leaving the film to go on and be a shadow of what it once was as opposed to end while it's still loved. But somehow, Christopher Nolan managed to audaciously deliver an ending to one of the most well known superheroes and one of the most acclaimed film franchises.

Christian Bale manages to give off what is, without a doubt, his best performance as both Batman and Bruce Wayne, managing to satisfyingly sign off on playing one of the most well-rounded screen superheroes. While his bat-voice still makes him sound like he needs some throat sweets, it doesn't detract from the character and isn't too annoying.

Tom Hardy was always going to have a tough time playing the film's villain, as he would always be compared to Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker, which is unfair, as the two are vastly different characters. Considering that most of Tom Hardy's face is covered throughout this film, he had to rely on selling the menace of his character through three things alone: his eyes, his body language and his voice (which i'll get to in a minute), and the fact that he succeeds in getting across how menacing this character is supposed to be through all of this just goes to prove how Tom Hardy is one of the best young actors working today.

There was controversy over Bane and his voice, which was apparently making it difficult to hear what he was saying. His voice is clear enough that you can make out what he is saying, and his choice of a voice is an intriguing one, adding to the mystery and threat of his character.

Anne Hathaway seemed like a left-field choice to play cat-burglar Selina Kyle (who is not referred to by her more well known name), with some even questioning Nolan's decision. But, like with a certain deceased Aussie some 4 years ago, our expectations were defied by an astounding and career-defining performance. Combining a mischievous sense of fun with a kick-ass attitude and a sharp tongue, Hathaway manages to be the film's scene-stealer, never being anything less than excellent throughout.

"This is how you tango. Take my right hand, very good...."

In a film full of cat burglars, ripped villains and men dressed as bats, it can be easy for the more human characters to get lost within the narrative and be reduced to nothing more than glorified extras. However, none of this occurs, and some of the more human characters are given some of the film's best characterization.

Gary Oldman has always been, in my opinion, the most underrated actors in this franchise, and for last time, he proves that not all of the acting acclaim should go to the villain. Commissioner Gordon has become a man who struggles with keeping the dark secret which, if released, would undo all the work that has gone into making Gotham a safer place, and by keeping this secret, has driven his family out of Gotham. Full Metal Jacket's Matthew Modine plays Deputy Commissioner Foley, a man who focuses on wanting to capture Batman for his own gain, but is given one of the better arcs of the film.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake, a young police officer with a smart mind who represents the idealism that was once held by Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne, but was lost through their fight to stop crime. Michael Caine manages to break hearts all over the world, giving one of the most emotional performances throughout the film trilogy as the characters acts the father figure towards Bruce.

At 164 minutes, the film does look like it's one that threatens to overwhelm by running for much longer than needed. What is surprising is how quickly the 164 minutes run by, and this is due to Christopher Nolan succeeding where James Cameron and Michael Bay stumbled with Avatar and the Transformers films: by have no scene feel unneeded or out of place, leaving not an ounce of fat to cut from the running time.

The film is a stunning watch for many reasons, but the top reason has to be thanks to the director, Christopher Nolan. While it's debatable how good the guy is, you will be hard pressed to top him for excitement and pure ambition, especially when you consider what what age he is at, which is relatively young by director standards.

From the opening ariel assault to the all-out climax, the action is utterly thrilling to watch, and it's made all the better when coupled with a sensational score, making it feel like something special truly is happening. But it isn't just the action that he delivers on. He delivers the right amount of humor, and even manages to make scenes composed of two people talking more gripping and more exciting than many scenes you'll find in this summers films.

The Dark Knight Rises manages to deliver an astounding ending to one of the greatest franchises in film history. The action makes for an astounding watch, and it's a testament to the writing, acting and directing that you don't really notice how the action takes a back seat over the first hour or so. This may be Christopher Nolan's last Batman film, but he is definitely going to be one to watch throughout the future of his career.

May God have mercy on whoever reboots this franchise.


ChrisCinephile said…
Excellent Review Rodders! Could not agree more!
Very good review, Rodders. It's almost like a story, lol.
Anonymous said…
I was worried about this one being a let down because I loved the first two so much, but it was outstanding. Overall a better film than The Dark Knight in my opinion. So glad I can say that! Nice review.