Actors: Chrisitan Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman
Synopsis: The much anticipated conclusion to the Dark Knight Saga.
Arguably the most anticipated movie since its 2008 predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises is finally upon us and brings forth the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman trilogy. Speculation and anticipation started the moment everyone concluded their first screening of The Dark Knight and with each tidbit of information that has been released over the last 4 years only drew more attention and spawned countless amounts of rumors based mostly on hope rather than merit. With The Dark Knight, in my opinion, as closed to a flawless film as I can remember (it’s only flaw comes in the form of Bale’s “death metal” voice when he is in the suit), the bar was definitely set at a monstrously high level. Sitting down in the theater at midnight on opening night, I found myself saying “Here we go. I hope it’s been worth it.”
I can avoid giving spoilers to the plot because the plan was pretty much laid out in the trailers for the film. It’s been 8 years since the incidents at the conclusion of the Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is still viewed upon as the “White Knight” and his death was able to get an act in place that essentially rid the streets of Gotham of all their organized crime. This brings forth the films villain in the form of a mask wearing mercenary only known as Bane. He’s a pure terrorist, both mentally and physically. It’s made clear very quickly that he’s got one thing in mind, the destruction of Gotham. At the same time, we get the introduction of another new character, Selina Kyle. You probably know her as anti-hero Catwoman although she never gets formally identified by that name in the film. The sudden appearances of these two characters forces Wayne, and subsequently Batman, to come out of “their” 8 year seclusion. It’s up to Wayne to stop Bane’s master plan of destroying the city he loves. He is pushed to the pits of hell and is forced to rise once again (see what I did there). I don’t want to dabble too much more into the story. There are many storylines that all intertwine within the main one. Mentioning characters and/or their involvement could possibly ruin a good chunk of the surprises for those that have anxiously awaited this films arrival.
It hasn’t been 5 hours since the film concluded for me and the first question I’ve been asked by many already is simply “How was it?” It’s an understandable question but what I think most mean to ask is how it compares to the Dark Knight. To answer that, I think I went with the perfect approach to the film. I didn’t set my expectations too high. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how good The Dark Knight was going to be. Lightning rarely strikes twice like that, if ever, so I went in predicting this film would be just about on par with Batman Begins. The first film of the series was a fantastic film and really got the ball rolling with the series. Even though the original Batman with Keaton and Nicholas has been held near and dear to our hearts, Nolan’s film stood up against it incredibly well. While I was correct in saying it isn’t quite the masterpiece the Dark Knight is, it exceeded my expectations when comparing it to Batman Begins.
To cut to the chase, this film is great. It was totally worth me only getting a few minutes of shuteye in the last 28 hours and even more importantly it lived up to most of the hype. There are a number of aspects of the film that I have complaints about but unfortunately I’m making this a spoiler free review and won’t mention them. One of two that I can mention is that Bane’s voice is terribly misplaced. It’s pretty obvious that Tom Hardy was going to have a difficult time speaking though that mask. It’s clear that they went back into a studio and recorded his speaking parts after the fact. You would think that such a small detail would be handled better. Every time Hardy spoke you could easily tell he was dubbed. His volume was much louder in a lot of settings than those around him. If they had wrote in that his mask also served as a microphone or speaker, then it could have been logically covered up. The other complaint comes from that fact that I was able to figure a lot of the surprises out well before they happened. I attribute this to the fact that I know a lot about the Batman comic storylines. Nolan laid on some of the foreshadowing pretty thick but now that I look back, I take it as a challenge that he laid out for the fans of the comics.
On the flipside, Nolan is a master at his craft. The cinematography is once again impeccable, the pacing of the film is precise, and the balance between all the smaller storylines is perfect. The whole film came together exactly when it needed and, at least after this first viewing, nothing feels unexplained. Hell, even the score is eerily spot on when setting the mood. Nolan even knows when to pull the plug on music altogether and a fight scene’s unsettling feeling is amplified tenfold by the lack of background music. It’s this type of decision making that is quickly making Nolan a favorite director of mine, to the point where I’ll go see a movie just because he directed it. I don’t even need to know what it’s about.
What we have here is a gripping conclusion to a trilogy that is going to be talked about in the same breath as Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings. Nolan, Bale, and the rest of the bunch have carved out their own piece of cinema history. The Dark Knight Rises does a wonderful job of rounding out the story. These are by far the best film adaptations of comic books and anyone that has any amount of geek status says that they hate these films or that this one wasn’t good, they simply being “that guy”. I highly recommend that you go check this film out while it’s in the theaters. See this the way it’s meant to be seen. You won’t have quite the enjoyable experience if you wait until it’s available for the small screen.