The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Plot: Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham City has enjoyed a period of peace. Still distraught by the death of Rachel Dawes and Dent’s turn as Two-Face, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hasn’t been Batman in all this time, becoming a total recluse. When a violent mercenary known as Bane (Tom Hardy) threatens Gotham, it forces Wayne to don the cape and cowl once more.
It was arguably the most anticipated movie ever made other than Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I know for me, I had never analyzed and thought about a film more than this one prior to its release. I could go on all day reflecting, contemplating, and talking about how much this film means to me, but screw it – let’s just get into the movie itself:
While the Dark Knight Rises wasn’t everything I hoped for, it’s still one of the greatest cinematic achievements I have seen in the last few years. I usually have this type of assessment every time I see a Christopher Nolan movie. The two elements that stand out most to me in this film were Christian Bale and the development of the John Blake character, played wonderfully by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Even though this movie is stockpiled with a shitload of characters, this is Bale’s show. He has to play so many different emotions and personalities in this film, but what he does best is that Batman voice. I don’t care what people say, Bale sells that voice. This is an Oscar worthy performance. But my favorite story arc may have been with Levitt’s John Blake, a young idealistic cop in Gotham City. I really can’t say too much about this character without spoiling anything, but what they did was absolutely brilliant, and for die hard Batman fans like me, it couldn’t have gone any better.
With a Nolan Batman movie, there also comes a great villain. Bane is awesome. And ironically, the best part about his character was the thing everyone was nervous about: the voice. Actor Tom Hardy does a marvelous job of crafting this character’s speech. He reminded me a lot of Darth Vader in not only his voice, but also in his personality, and that’s saying something. It also helps that Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote superb dialogue for him. This is especially apparent in the first fight between Batman and Bane in which Bane’s dialogue is addictively quotable. This fight scene in general is the definition of heart pounding. It’s filmed perfectly, and is as brutal as you can get in a PG-13 rated movie.
The rest of the acting is through the roof as you can probably imagine when looking at the cast involved. Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman. What else is there to say? Michael Caine was a real stand out here though as Alfred, and has moments that will make you want to unload an entire box of tissues. Anne Hathaway is a perfect Catwoman, and Marion Cotillard is a great addition to the Bat cast as well.
As much as I love this movie, it’s not without its flaws though. The editing seems rushed at times, it’s almost too predictable, and the plot is sort of a re-hash of Batman Begins. But at the end of the day, this completes the second greatest trilogy ever made. The last thirty minutes of this movie is bat shit crazy in terms of the action, and I can’t think of a better last shot to end the trilogy with. We’ll get a new incarnation of Batman sooner rather than later, and the character will continue to live on because he’s that great. But I promise you, we will never get a better interpretation of this character than what Christopher Nolan gave us…period.
P.S. Hans Zimmer’s score is amazing.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (OMG)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman
-Out of all three movies, this was Bale’s best turn as the character. Bale’s Bruce Wayne was always a multi-layered performance, but this time around even his Batman added some new dimensions. My favorite moment of Bale in this film is when he screams ‘WHERE’S THE DETONATOR’ at a beaten down Bane towards the end. Like I said…Bale sells that Batman voice.
Worst Performance: Daniel Sunjata as Captain Jones
-This is the Special Ops Captain that gets smuggled into Gotham City after it’s overtaken by Bane. This guy was in about three scenes, but I don’t know, I just didn’t like him. Yea, I had to dig deep for this category.
Best Line: “Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark…I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but blinding!” –Bane to Batman as he beats him down
-Are you kidding me!? Just read the damn line…awesome! It’s Tom Hardy’s delivery though that makes it that much more special.
Worst Line: “So that’s what that feels like.” –Batman after Catwoman leaves the rooftop while his back is turned
-This line is just a miss. And as much as I love Bale’s Batman voice, it’s not really joke friendly.
-The first fight between Batman and Bane in the sewers is really one of the greatest superhero fights I’ve ever seen. Even though it’s one-sided, watching Batman not being able to do anything against this guy is so shocking, you can’t look away. And the dialogue throughout this scene is beautifully written. And all Batman fans know the iconic shot of Bane breaking Batman’s back in the comics. When this happens in the film, it genuinely surprised me. Once Bane repeatedly punches him in the face cracking his cowl, I thought that was it. Kudos to Nolan though for catching us off guard, because the back breaking moment comes out of nowhere, and it’s so quick, which is a good thing. I also love that it’s filmed at this odd sort of faraway angle. It’s just a great scene, albeit a little hard to watch if you’re a Batman fan.
-I have to admit, the one silly moment is when the bridge in Gotham is lit up, and it makes a fiery bat symbol. Yea, it looks cool, but come on? The Dark Knight Rises is probably the most nit-picked film in existence, which annoys me to no end, but this is the one nitpick I will agree with. How did Batman find time to do this while his city was under sieged…was this really necessary? It reminded me of the Robin symbol Robin makes in Batman & Robin when he crashes through the museum wall. Are the two really that far off? Okay, I went too far there.
-There’s plenty to choose from, but for me, it’s not even close. I don’t care if people say it’s cheesy, but when Bruce Wayne climbs out of Bane’s prison as all the prisoners chant ‘rise,’ and the bats fly out, I got chills. That scene is the Rudy moment of superhero movies.
-For the most part, the ending is great, especially when Blake rises on the platform in the last shot. But I have to disagree with the decision to keep Bruce Wayne alive, which means my least favorite scene is him showing up at the Café at the end with Selina. I buy that Bruce no longer needs to be Batman. But if we consider Blake will need years of training to become the next Batman, I don’t buy that if in a year or two, a new threat comes to Gotham where Batman is needed, and Blake isn’t ready, that Bruce is just going to stay in Europe sipping lattes with Selina. He’ll want to save the city not because of a need to be Batman, but because he cares about Gotham City too much. That’s why I feel Bruce should have actually died, or have been severely injured that he could no longer physically be Batman, but he would still be around to train Blake. At the end of the day, this is open for debate, and it’s not something that derails the movie or anything, but just my own personal opinion.
-I love the guy in the bar wearing the Hawaiian shirt that gets shot, but is still able to muster to Selina, ‘call me’ as she walks out.
Bad Ass Moment: