Yet Another Review of The Dark Knight Rises
I know, I’m a little behind.
Actually, a LOT behind. I had a goal of posting a new blog every day. That all flew out the window when I had to start working until 2:30 or 3:00 in the A.M. for your friendly neighborhood T.G.I. Cheddarbee’s, then getting up at 5:30 or 6 A.M. with my evil genius son. Needless to say, I am tired virtually all of the time. No energy to sit at a computer and write. No energy to do much of anything except try to nap and make sure my son doesn’t rip his diaper off and pee on the floor.
He has done it, by the way.
But, last Saturday, I was able to drag my ass to my local IMAX and check out The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy.
Hit the jump to read my spoiler-filled review. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want any info, read something else. Or, do me a favor and click on an ad and line my wallet.
I went in to this movie with mixed expectations. I didn’t think it would be as good as The Dark Knight. I also didn’t want it to be a complete let-down, either. I have to admit, when I first heard about the casting choices of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway, I was on the “What the hell is Nolan thinking?” bandwagon. But, as was the case with his casting of Heath Ledger as Joker, Nolan knew exactly what he was going for with his interpretation of the characters, and his chosen actors delivered.
The first thing I did when I heard the casting news was do a little research on Tom Hardy, as I had never heard of him before. I watched Bronson, a film about Britain’s most violent inmate. He was phenomenal in the title role. Then, I watched Warrior. All doubt about his performance as Bane was erased from my mind after watching that one. He proved he could play a cold, calculating, and violent individual in Bronson, and he proved he had the size and ferocity needed in Warrior. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, I could have cared less about, since she wasn’t someone to which I had ever really paid attention.
I have to say that this movie exceeded my expectations. I would even venture to say that it was on par with The Dark Knight. No one could top Ledger’s performance from that movie, but Hardy came close. His Bane was eloquent, and highly intelligent, like the Bane of the comics. He combined the intelligence with the physicality of a gorilla, and the weird voice he used was downright creepy. Anne Hathaway made for a good Catwoman. She kicks some serious ass.
Now for the spoileriffic stuff.
First, let’s look at the villain, Bane. It was amazing to see what Tom Hardy could do with only his eyes. He showed an intensity that matched his physicality using only his eyes. You could see that Bane was a man on a mission, and he wouldn’t be stopped. In one scene during his final fight with Batman, those same eyes showed an immense sadness and despair, and through that one expression, I couldn’t help but sympathize with Bane. Bane’s brutality was perfectly portrayed, and when he lifted Batman over his head and broke his spine, I winced. The punches he throws that shatters Batman’s cowl were insanely brutal, as well. His end at the hands of Catwoman was anticlimactic, to say the least, but if the story that Nolan told is continued, Bane could re-emerge. Nothing ever showed him dead.
Then there’s Miranda Tate, played by Marion Cotillard. She, for me, was the weakest link of the movie. Her character was never really fleshed out,. She was just sort of there. Then she was revealed to be Talia Al-Ghul, daughter of Ra’s Al-Ghul. Her backstory as Talia was well told, through flashbacks. It turns out that Bane was her protector, and the plan of setting off a nuclear bomb in Gotham was her idea all along. She wanted revenge against Bruce for killing Ra’s Al-Ghul, and she wanted to finish what Ra’s started. I wish the reveal would have been sooner, as I thought the Miranda character was a bit boring, but it fits perfectly into the story.
Anne Hathaway is brilliant as Selina Kyle. Her performance was spot on. She looked out for number one, but when things got rough, she did the right thing and helped Batman save the city. She owed it to him. She did lead him to getting his back broken, after all. Bitch. Also, who would have ever thought that the girl from The Princess Diaries could kick so much ass? In heels, no less.
Now, for the good guys. Let’s start with the man himself.
Christian Bale turned in his best performance of the trilogy, hands down. His Bruce was sad, and angry, and still managed to put on the playboy act, but it was more subdued. His final scene with Alfred was a tearjerker, to say the least. Bale’s performance as Batman was much better this time around, as well. His Bat-voice was still a bit ridiculous, but it wasn’t near as forced as it was in The Dark Knight. Batman was also a man on a mission, and it was great to see him go toe to toe with a villain who was not only on par with him mentally, but physically as well.
Again, Gary Oldman was terrific as Commissioner Gordon. He looked like a man who was stressed to his wit’s end, and he was completely believable as a man with a terrible secret. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played John Blake, was good in his role. His character had to work for the sake of the ending, and it did. He came across as an earnest, intelligent, and somewhat bitter, but idealistic cop, and that’s what he needed to be. It was totally believable that this guy could have figured out that Bruce Wayne was Batman all on his own, and that he would be the one to carry on the mantle, whether as Batman or Nightwing. He is Robin, by the way. Sort of. Turns out, his real first name was Robin. Nice little nod to the fans.
Finally, there was Michael Caine as Alfred. If anyone out there has doubts about this man’s ability, go see this movie. He deserves an Oscar nod. The scene I mentioned earlier, the last one between Bruce and Alfred? Michael Caine was the reason it was so emotional. He seemed to actually care for Bruce, and only wanted to help him move on. I was disappointed to see Bruce fire Alfred after Alfred confessed to burning Rachel’s letter, but it was a very well acted scene. And, at the end, when Alfred saw Bruce and Selina at the cafe and gave him that little nod, You could see the joy of knowing that Bruce was happy and had left Batman behind in his eyes. And, for the final scene with Gordon-Levitt finding the Batcave and the platform rising under his feet? A great way to end the trilogy.
All in all, it was a very good flick, and it exceeded my expectations. The way it brought the story full circle from Batman Begins was great. The Liam Neeson and Linus Roache cameos were great. The thing that put a lump in my throat? This:
A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hadn’t ended.
That line was spoken by Batman when Gordon asked him who he was. Then a flashback from Batman Begins was shown, of Gordon putting the coat around a young Bruce’s shoulders. A puzzled Gordon simply replies, “Bruce Wayne?” I don’t know why, but that scene, to me, was awesome.
It had its flaws, but they didn’t ruin it for me.
Plus, the Man of Steel trailer kicked some ass.
I will be back.
Some time soon.