The finale in Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus needs no introduction: By now you’d have seen, or heard, a thousand and one different rumours and stories about The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), and the various spoilers surrounding it.
But if you must know more: It’s 8 years after Batman’s defeated the Joker and lost Rachel Dawes, and now he’s turned into a recluse. However, Bane arrives, threatening to destroy Gotham City (which is pretty much New York in this movie), and Batman finds a reason to fight once again. But … Why is Bane here? What’s his point? Da da da daaaaaaaaa!!!!
Except that’s Danny Elfman’s theme, not Hans Zimmer’s. At any rate, The Dark Knight Rises has a whole lot of expectation that rests on its shoulders (especially given the amazing The Dark Knight (TDK)) – does part three of Nolan’s Batman trilogy stand up to scrutiny? Well, yes and no.
For starters, the movie suffers from the lack of true villainy. Maybe it’s hard to measure up to the Joker, but sometimes Tom Hardy’s Bane feels like a missed opportunity. Bane is oftentimes unintelligible thanks to his mask (though much better than the first trailer) and when Bane does infodump sadly a lot of it is lost in translation. That being said Tom Hardy’s Bane is a physical tour de force – you might have seen Hardy in Warrior but in this his physicality is absolutely astonishing. The few times Hardy has to emote behind the mask he does a great job – and the problem really isn’t in Hardy’s performance, but really “how to design a villain that’s as chaotically menacing and dark as the Joker”. In a sense, there’s no real way to, and try as TDKR might, it fails to rise above that.
Bane’s motivations are also sometimes questionable – trying to incite a class war against the rich and famous is one thing, but seeing the commonfolk band with the criminals seems like a touch incredulous. But on hindside it does make perfect sense – given how the show ends. Bane’s weapon is also a big one indeed – but sometimes I wonder why characters don’t physically react to it like they should. Another thing – the eight year jump is a huge one, but just keep in mind that Christopher Nolan will explain everything by the film’s end (see The Prestige) and you won’t feel too lost (so basically Selina Kyle’s sudden rise in the crime world really isn’t so sudden after all).
But if we put the shadow of the Joker behind, what we have is still an amazing film. Each member of the cast is commendable, from newcomer Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), to Christian Bale and Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman to the very, very amazing good old Micheal Caine (Alfred Pennyworth). At 2 hours and 45 minutes long the movie doesn’t actually feel that long, and from the get go there’s already a lot of tense moments throughout. The action keeps coming in waves, and Hans Zimmer’s score follows us throughout the movie, lending it its dramatic weight.
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan has crafted a pretty tight script (if you can hear it), that while obvious at points, does extremely well to keep pushing the show forward. It can’t really be avoided – since the Nolan brothers have to wrap up the film they do end up having to do it neatly, so it’s a good thing they do it so well. Also, keep a ear out for the quick nod to Killer Croc, that’s a good one that’s easily missed. The script is funny at isolated points (and at one point laugh out loud funny) – the mood here is a bit more comic-booky rather than totally dark and serious like TDK.
The action is great and impactful, and the gadgetry (that Batpod is sure poetry) is just going to put a smile on your face. Another smile? How good Anne Hathaway looks in a catsuit – and that, plus her role as Selina Kyle, puts her ahead of Scarlett Johansson from The Avengers (still behind the non-costumed Emma Stone, in my books). Yep – Anne Hathaway isn’t just here as eye candy, and she definitely does well. Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate is a pretty interesting love interest, and does well to help you forget Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes / Maggie Gyllenhaal).
One of the best parts of the movie is really to watch it in IMAX – the sound, the images go up a whole level. Nolan’s put 72 minutes of IMAX goodness in this movie, and it shows – the visuals are stunning and extremely immersive.
I was wondering about pre-planned trilogies and how often the third part does worse than the second (or that the second is always the best) – and based on a straw poll I guess that assumption is wrong. Nonetheless The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t rise over The Dark Knight, and sits right behind The Avengers for my superhero movie of the summer – basically don’t expect TDK, but still expect an amazing film that deserves to be watched in IMAX and just soak in a fine tale that does well to wrap up a trilogy. Go book your tickets now!
Score: Composed by Hans Zimmer