Summer saved its biggest blockbuster for last. July 20th kicked off the end of The Dark Knight trilogy with the long awaited The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve been nothing short of amazed at the hype for this film, as fans were foaming at the mouth for the next adventures of Bruce Wayne with director Chris Nolan at the helm. Of course, coming off the success of The Dark Knight it’s hard to believe that Nolan could top it but he certainly gives it a go with The Dark Knight Rises.
Rises follows the uprising of Bane, a terrorist who is unlike anyone Batman has ever faced before. Having been a recluse for quite some time after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder at the end of The Dark Knight, Wayne has lived a quiet, secret life at Wayne Manor by hanging up his batsuit for good. However, with Bayne trying to start nuclear war and trying to bring chaos to the city, Batman must rise up again and save the good people of Gotham one last time.
While Rises attempts to top The Dark Knight it just really falls short. However, that shouldn’t be seen as a dig on Nolan because it is very hard to top The Dark Knight. All the chips fell into the right place on that film and while The Dark Knight Rises tries its best to recreate that magic, it just doesn’t work. Bane is not exactly a great villain and is one of the most predictable characters in the franchise. Bane has the edge on being bigger, stronger and faster than any other villainous foe we have seen before in the rebooted franchise. However he comes off as more of a hulking oaf than anything else. His mystery and intrigue seems to die off quickly and his encounters with Batman seem to be less fulfilling on screen than I had hoped. The chemistry between the two characters just wasn’t the same as it had been with previous villains. And for anyone who has made fun of Batman’s voice over the franchise, get prepared to mock an equally silly Bane voice. While the first press screenings had Bane talking so muffled you could barely understand, Nolan cleaned up the audio in post production and now has him sounding like a pre-pubecent Darth Vader.
Anne Hathaway takes to the screen as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in a role that is played well. Problem is she seemed to be a side note distraction from the rest of the film. I felt that her character was filler for “studio plot holes” such as lack of a love interest, and it gave Batman someone to help him out since Nolan wanted to avoid the use of Robin in his films.
I’ve always been a fan of how Nolan has worked in real life politics and the current events into his films and this film doesn’t shy away at it either. The Dark Knight was filled full of social commentary on rendition, terrorism responses and more by taking the slightly more conservative side of the coin. Rises seems to be making a commentary on the 99%ers and the demonizing of the rich but the message just seems to be a muddy water of unclear intentions. Perhaps the biggest thing missing was enough moments of wisdom from Alfred or even Lucious Fox in the film. In the previous films moments between Alfred and Bruce Wayne were some of my favorite moments in the films and they just aren’t present in Rises. Lucious and even Commissioner Gordon seem to also take a side role with little screen time and the chemistry seems off in this film.
Now with all that being said and done, picking on The Dark Knight Rises isn’t really fair. To do so is like mocking a $100 choice cut of beef at a steakhouse because the guy next to you bought the $150 cut. Rises is still a great film. It does have quite a length to it. In fact, the 165 minute run time seems a bit excessive for the end result but it keeps you engaged the entire time. Most of that is because we have invested a lot of time into Gotham over the years and you’re stoked to see how it all winds up in the end. Rises is actually very, very good but it just can’t quite get over on The Dark Knight. It is certainly better than Batman Begins but falls short of The Dark Knight. It brings a fitting end to The Dark Knight franchise (before a re-boot and we get to do it all over again). It aims to please and does just that. I had a lot of fun with this film. A very solid story, very solid character development and Director Chris Nolan is very gifted director. The man has a knack for making solid films and his track record proves it.
As the end credits rolled I was sad to see the film end and was sad to say goodbye to the characters we have had so much fun with over the years. However I also knew that Nolan wrapped up the franchise the best way he knew how. Nolan made Batman hip and cool again after Clooney and Schumacher killed it with camp and rubber nipples on a bat suit. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t a masterpiece but it is sure one heck of a note to go out on.