The Ninjabot

Dark Knight Rises review

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

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The Dark Knight Rises is the conclusion to the amazing Christopher Nolan Batman series. The first two films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are tremendous films and stand head and shoulders above most of the traditional comic book films. So the final chapter, The Dark Knight Rises is sure to be a blockbuster no matter what any reviewer says or does. Having said that, here is my review of The Dark Knight Rises.

*****Minor spoilers below (if you’ve seen the trailers you’re fine)*****

Eight years have passed since The Caped Crusader took the fall for Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, and in those years Gotham City has prospered to new heights. The mob is safely locked away and the streets are no longer a hive of scum and villainy. The eight years have been significantly less kind to Bruce Wayne, again played by Christian Bale, who has spent the majority of that time in a self imposed exile. Rumors swirl the social scene as to what has become of the reclusive billionaire. Does he have 8 inch fingernails? Does he collect his urine in mason jars? Is his DVR filled with 200 hours of Toddlers and Tiaras?

Like how The Dark Knight was a parable on the “war on terror” this film is firmly entrenched in the “occupy movement” with Bane and his co-patriots taking it one step further. With the city under siege it is up to the Caped Crusader to overcome his own self doubt and become a symbol and a hero again.

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Anyone who saw Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol in Imax or who YouTubed the short knows the opening. It is the introduction of Bane played by Tom Hardy, during a daring mid-air heist Bane and his followers kidnap a Russian scientist. We are shown why Bane is someone to fear from the get-go as he and his militants highjack a government plane, steal the cargo, and escape. This is not the Bane from Batman and Robin, but neither is it really the Bane from the comics. Sure he has moments of his comic book flair, and a very famous Batman cover is reproduced in moving form, but at his core Bane is different. He is infinitely more real, and terrifying. The voice takes some getting used to and he is a bit of a bore at times, but there is no denying that this guy is for real, and you better not take him lightly.

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle is a mix of fun and female kick-assery. Although never referred to by the name, her alter ego of Catwoman in clear. She does an admirable job, but at times seems out of sorts in a film of heavy hitters. Her fight scenes and stunts are fun and nimble and make a nice contrast to the bruiser style of fighting adopted by Bane and Batman. I won’t spoil her arch, but it is one of the most complete in the film. She is on a journey, and we are along for the ride.

Christopher Nolan is a genius when it comes to the slow build. He likes to painfully stretch out the set up for big moments so that you are on the edge of your seat, and when that moment comes you just lose it. This film follows a similar format. A lot of talk about Batman, and just when you are about to stand on your seat and shout “Batman will eventually appear in this BATMAN film, right?” you are greeted with the familiar Batman theme and Batman kicking ass and doing great things.

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For me though I think that once you have us you should keep us locked down… at least for a while. In this film though there was a lot of down time, and I mean a lot. The film clocks in at 164 minutes and a lot of the time it feels like it. The first half has a lot of exposition that should have been on the DVD extended edition. There’s a lot of set up explaining what has happened over the eight years, what all the familiar characters are doing, and introducing a slew of new people. There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake a hot shot cop trying to make the world a better place. Levitt is always amazing and one of my favorite actors, and his story is arguably the best and most fulfilling of the whole film. Matthew Modine plays Foley, Gordon’s second in command and heir apparent to the commissioner’s job. It takes a good 45 minutes for Batman to show up and his arrival is short.

Once Bruce Wayne dons the cape and cowl the movie picks up for a bit before climaxing, and entering it’s second Nolan build-up. We get a lot of flashbacks and extended scenes from prior films to fill some of the story gaps and they are surprisingly effective and often moving. The big three of secondary character; Alfred, Lucious, and Commissioner Gordon have truncated parts, taking a back seat to a lot of new characters like Levitt’s Blake, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. While they do a good job, we spent 2 films falling in love with these other characters only to have them virtually replaced in the conclusion. This coupled with a mostly Batman-free 1st and 2nd act was a bit of a downer, but then Nolan hits you when you least expect it. As soon as that Batman theme hits you are pumped and Nolan plays on your emotional attachment to the character to keep you engaged.

Christian Bale returns and does the same thing he has in the first two films, so either he is the best or the worst Batman. I rank him second behind Keeton on my list, but that is neither here nor there. His take on Batman cannot really be compared to any of the other versions because his Batman is grounded in the real world. No shark repellant spray cans here. His costume and voice are the subject of many debates, but for a real world approach to a fictional character both are fine by me. His gadgets are the same but the Bat-Pod has become his ground vehicle of choice (no Tumbler for Batman this time) and he has added a little air superiority with his new flying machine, “The Bat.”

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Michael Caine as Alfred has always been a high point in the series for me, and to see him lessened to an extent was a little disheartening. He does bring the emotion though, as the constant father figure to Bruce Wayne. He is torn between the duty he feels he owes Martha and Thomas Wayne to take care of their son, and his own personal feelings and misgivings with creating Batman. Morgan Freeman also returns as Lucious Fox, another benchmark character in the series. While he probably has more screen time in this film than the previous two, he is of lesser importance and does not make the same impact that he made in the first 2 films. And then there is Commissioner Gordon played again by Gary Oldman whose lie at the end of the last film has lead to the eight years of relative peace in Gotham. He is struggling with the lie that saved the city but killed Batman. He spends a lot of the film out of commission (no pun intended), and a lot of things you would think that he would do are instead given to Blake.

In the end I think The Dark Knight Rises was a well made film that provided closure to an amazing trilogy. All of the roles are performed brilliantly, and you really get a sense that these are real people and not comic book archetypes. Bane is a scary and real villain, Selina Kyle is a nice foil to Batman, and all the supporting roles are great. The film is not without it’s problems though. I feel it was 25 minutes too long, and that there were too many valleys that did not make up for the peeks. The film also focused a lot on the personal journey of Bruce Wayne, doing a lot of the same character building that we saw in Batman Begins. A lot of the same emotions and lessons are repeated with the same outcome. I understand that the films are as much about Bruce Wayne’s growth as they are about Batman, but it seems like this Bruce Wayne journey was a re-run. I would say that it is the weakest of the three films, but since the other two are amazing it is not in bad company. I would be interested to see it again in a week and see if my opinions would be changed.

Snackbar’s grade : B-

What did you think of the film? Feel like writing a review, send it to info@geeklegacy.com and if it’s good we’ll put it on the site.

    • Eric

      I agree with most of your points, but thought that Anne Hathoway was a big bore, and really didn't add much to the film.

    • Scott

      I thought this film was fantastic and a brilliant end to Christopher Nolan's trilogy. I firmly believe that people's expectations these days are something short of hilarious. We need to remember that not every part to a film needs to be the same and this is where Christopher Nolan is a genius. Yes it had a lot of 'down time' but during this time there wasn't a second where I was bored. This time was used well completing story arcs, giving more character development, or simply playing with your mind so when Batman shows up and kicks some ass, you want to jump up and scream, "Hell Ya!" In fact, even during these down times, I happened to look down and realize I was scrunching a napkin in my hand because it was so sweaty from the intensity of the film.

      Anne Hathaway was surprisingly great in this film. I didn't have many high expectations from her at the beginning, but I do love how she was used in the film. She was a main character, yet not a whole lot of information was divulged about her. Another thing I really appreciated from Nolan is that as Catwoman, she was not overbearingly sexy. Ya, she's a babe (only one person I know will disagree) yet she didn't have the cleavage or blatant 'Hollywood' sex goddess written all over her (i.e. Halle Berry).

      I thought Michael Cane's backseat ride as the amazing Alfred was done perfectly. We already know Alfred's view on who Batman really is and why he is needed or not. Put this one up for Cane getting a grown man to cry during a super hero movie. Well done sir.

      Tom Hardy as Bane was yet another fantastic choice. His acting chops have been perfected over the last few years and Bane really brings out the beast in him. Bane kicks some major ass, but I can't be the only one who, in the end, has a bit of a soft heart for him.

      Overall I think The Dark Knight Rises was a glorious end to the trilogy that only Nolan could have done. He brought all the right people back and put his final stamp on the films. Sure it was longer than the others, but it was needed. I think it ended exactly where I could have hoped it did and can't wait to see it again before it leaves theaters.

      Scott's grade: A

    • Thanks for the comments Scott, I think a lot of my negative feelings about some of the early film and the "slow" parts stemmed from my dislike of how The Dark Knight ended. I feel that Christopher Nolan painted himself into a corner, and I thought it marred an otherwise AMAZING film. Because of how he ended that film I thought that they spent a little too much time in this one talking about the fallout and what has happened in the 8 years following.

      I completely see the other end of the coin, and I really enjoyed this film, but there were just a couple things that gave me a meh feeling. I also thought that the lessons Bruce learned in the film were very similar to those he learned in Batman Begins (don't want to spoil anything so I am being vague).

      I compleely agree with you on the Michael Cain gonna make you cry moment. He actually had 2 of those for me. His performance was amazing, and that was why I was sad he kind of had a smaller and less funny part. A lot of the best moments in the first two films are when he is busting Bruce Wayne's balls.

      –Snackbar–

      PS – Looks like you might have to write a full review Scott. I enjoyed reading what you had to say.

    • I think it is almost universally accepted that the performances were stellar, pretty much across the board, but the one thing no-one has seemed to mention in any review I have read is how absolutely horrible one particular actor was.

      What happened to you Matthew Modine? Holy crap that was bad… as in high school drama class bad. Everytime he opened his mouth, hell everytime he was even on screen, it pulled me right out of the movie experience.

      Other than that, and the bloated feel of the middle act, it was a perfect end to an almost perfect trilogy. I pity the man who tries to put on the director's cowl for the reboot. That guy is going to be in a no win situation if there ever was one…

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