The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman. IMDB says: “Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham’s finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.“
Before The Film:
I very wisely and very happily bought not only a Midnight Release ticket for this film in IMAX but also participated in the AMC Dark Knight Trilogy Marathon. At 6pm I watched BATMAN BEGINS, 845pm watched THE DARK KNIGHT, and at 12:01am watched some trailers and then THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. If you haven’t watched BATMAN BEGINS, I strongly recommend you do before seeing this film. This film references that film often and doesn’t always provide you a flashback. We were also treated to some footage from the upcoming James Bond thriller SKYFALL. Yes, it looks VERY impressive. But we are not here to discuss James Bond! We are here to discuss THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!!
The Dark Knight Rises begins eight years to the day that Harvey Dent (Two-Face) died. Since then, Batman retired and Gotham has rid the city of organized crime. Gotham, to a degree, is at peace; that is until Bane comes to town looking to destroy the city and Batman might need some help on this one. For starters this film is absolutely gorgeous. From the bleak cityscapes to the dark tunnels, the film is magnificent as it pans past skyscrapers to show the Dark Knight keeping watch over his city. What makes the film stand out even more are the scenes, which felt like a majority of the film, that were filmed using the IMAX technology. If you see the film, I can’t recommend the IMAX Experience enough (and NO, it’s not in 3D). The entire cast is solid. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, and of course Tom Hardy, are all spectacular and work really well together picking up not only better comedic beats than the previous two films, but better deliveries on the dramatic side. A huge complaint going in was that we wouldn’t be able to understand Bane. I’m happy to report that those claims are wrong, and that he was perfectly understandable. A downside, to me, is the score. The score feels a little empty. There is plenty of action and practical effects that feed off the scores energy but it always felt a bit behind on the grandeur and scale of the previous two films.
One thing this film is not lacking is scale. Rather than focus on small sections of the city, the film sets out to decimate the entire city, challenging Batman to discover new ways to get across town. Does he rise to the challenge? Of course! The new helicopter (or “Bat”) is a welcomed edition to the Batman arsenal and looks great in black. The special effects, both CGI and practical are near perfect. Everything comes across as believable and awe-inspiring, despite the mass scale and destruction that the film deals with.
SPOILER ALERT!! If you HAVE NOT seen the film, DO NOT READ ON. Please wait until you’ve seen the film, then come back and continue reading. Thanks. You’ve been warned.
There is a lot of fun to be had for those familiar with the Batman mythos. We see nods to other villains and characters such as Killer Croc and a highlight of the film is seeing a few frames of the Batman comic series Knightfall come to life as Bane breaks Batman. But as great as the set-ups are throughout the film, at times it becomes predictable for those familiar with the Batman mythos. They’ll enjoy the film sure, but they’ll know Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character will end up being a Robin-esque character even without such a blatant giveaway at the end. They’ll see Marion Cotillard’s character, Miranda Tate, as a lie and that she is really Talia Al-Ghul. Sure they changed Bane’s back story a bit to throw you off, but you’ll put the pieces together sooner than later. And they’ll probably see the prison that Bruce Wayne is imprisoned in, referred to as ‘The Pit’, as an homage of sorts to the famed Lazarus Pit often used by Ra’s Al-Ghul. Of course, everyone will know that in the end, Alfred will look over in the café and see Bruce Wayne with Salina Kyle.
But despite the predictability of this, the performances are still great enough to keep you invested in the characters, and quasi-surprised when it’s all revealed. Those unfamiliar with the stories might be able to predict some things as they are standard plot elements but, as always, Christopher Nolan has a way with making these seem fresh and new.
My only other complaint is the story. I know the Joker was to appear in the third film but with the untimely death of Heath Ledger, the story had to be changed. It felt like the story was a bit convoluted at times, throwing in new characters to develop and follow, leaving little time for the viewer to process what happened. The only time the viewer could process the story would be during the action scenes, but the scenes are so well done and look so good that one gets lost in the awe of it all. It works itself out midway through the second act but it leaves you wanting to revisit the beginning even though Bane is about to level Gotham and its going to look incredible. Even when Bruce Wayne escapes the Pit, his return to Gotham and the bombs detonation schedule all feels a bit rushed leaving you wanting a bit more of an explanation.
Despite those minor issues, The Dark Knight Rises is not only an incredible film but it’s an amazing end to a trilogy that could do no wrong from the beginning. It will be not only the box office king of the summer, but it will be THE summer film of 2012. Go see it in theatres a half dozen times; I know I will.