(Warning: Minor Spoilers ahead!)
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy comes to a close with the Dark Knight Rises and it does so spectacularly! Despite getting a non A-lister villain as the main bad guy, Dark Knight Rises pulls all the stop in making sure audience walk away satisfied, and quite possibly, salivating for more.
In Rises, we are transported 8 years after the incidents of the Dark Knight. District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), burned half-alive into the coin-tossing villain Two Face, is dead and Batman takes on the blame to preserve the good that Harvey did. This translated into what is now known as the Dent Act, a law that gave GCPD enough claw to weed out organized crime for good. As everything seemed nice and bright on the surface, the masked terrorist known simply as Bane (Tom Hardy) is plotting an uprising against Gotham that would shake the city to its core.
A disheveled Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) strives to live with the lie about Dent to almost breaking point that it took a toll with his personal life while Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in self-imposed exile lurks in the shadows. The Batman has not been seen since the day Harvey Dent died.
New faces are seen in Gotham with the slinky femme fatale Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) as a con-artist/ cat burglar living on the edge and an idealistic rookie cop by the name of John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) assigned to Gordon’s unit.
There are so many things good about this movie that makes it enjoyable without the usual Nolan fatigue of overthinking and analyzing and re-analyzing his films (although that can be fun as well—everybody remember Inception? Hehe). But the surprise twist and turns that director Chris Nolan seems to enjoy putting in his film is ever more present here than in the first 2 Batman movie, Batman Begins and the Dark Knight.
You could say that Nolan became more comfortable with this last movie than his previous 2 works, and though it may be a good thing, there are some points against that. We’ll go through that in a bit.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THE MOVIE
Bane and Catwoman. Although the not as familiar muscle-villain is the highlight of this film, Nolan takes Bane to a different plane (pun intended). When I first saw the production stills for Bane and heard initial sound bites I was already worried. The mask is different, venom isn’t used and his voice, well, sounded like it came from Jim Henson’s workshop.
But Tom Hardy is a brilliant actor as Bane comes off menacingly enigmatic and physically scary. Here’s a guy that can go toe-to-toe with Batman and (in the comic) broke the Bat’s back. There is also brilliance in his portrayal of the character to make Bane more than a muscle. In the film, he is both the strategist and the executioner. Able to punch through concrete (yes you read that right); this is an adversary that is not to be trifled with. A pure sociopath, Bane does not have any regard for human life as long as he attains what he wants. He is easy able to sacrifice his men for whatever reason and snap them in two if it needs be.
The brilliant Anne Hathaway is just lovely on every frame. Her performance instantly draws you whether she’s conning her way through Wayne Manor or when donning the cat-suit and fighting alongside Batman. This is also the most accurate portrayal of Selina Kyle/Catwoman from a comic-book standpoint. Although not as eerily romantic and mesmerizing as Michelle Pfiffer’s Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Hathaway gives us a believable and very much grounded piece of character. I love how conflicted her characters become when making choices. Aside from this she also gets all the comedic lines in the film which just adds to the allure of the character. Of all the characters in the movie Selina/Catwoman hits closest to home as Nolan took vast liberties with the other characters.
The action is also well-handled in this than in the previous two movies. Whereas in Batman Begins we see super tight shots of characters pounding each other up, the framing in the Dark Knight Rises is more traditional and much “cleaner”. Having had experience using IMAX cameras for action sequences in the Dark Knight, Nolan uses this to create better frames with Rises. In essence Rises is an IMAX movie as 30-40% of the reel was shot using IMAX cameras.
Unfortunately, the movie is without hitch as certain characteristics of the main and supporting cast deviate from their comic book roots. If you’re a purist, you’d probably hate this movie. But if you can look at the material and realize that this isn’t DC’s Gotham anymore but Nolan’s Universe then you might actually enjoy the wild ride that Chris is taking you.
Fitting everything neatly in an already exhaustive 2 hour and 40 minute run time is a daunting task, and yet we felt that there were still some stories left to be explored. Example, more back story on Bane could make us further understand the technology behind his mask and maybe a scene or two on how Catwoman acquired her very tech-inspired cat-suit. These things would solidify the universe further and give more weight and believability to the characters. One of my favorite moments in Batman Returns was Selina’s transformation to Catwoman as she makes her own cat suit from old leather jackets and sewing materials. I would have wanted something similar here too.
In the end, Dark Knight Rises plays second fiddle to the masterpiece that was the Dark Knight however, having more mass appeal, I actually find it more enjoyable than the former. With a lighter storyline, character-wise, the fatigue factor in Rises is felt less than that of the Dark Knight. In fact the Dark Knight Rises could be considered as a direct sequel to Batman Begins as the movie revisits scenes from the first movie constantly bringing the trilogy to a circle.
The last 5 minutes of the film will either make it or break it for you. To this viewer and to the Unbox team, we certainly liked what we saw and we wanted more!
Unbox score: 4/5