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Finale of the Nolan Trilogy
The Dark Knight Rises(DVD)
Member Name: Dentolux
The Dark Knight Rises(DVD)
Advantages: Some exciting chase scenes with new Batman vehicles, Hathaway's take on Catwoman.
Disadvantages: Batman and Bane's voices sound silly, the fist fights could have been better.
Christopher Nolan has an excellent track record when it comes to movie making, but some early reviews hadn't exactly been glowing in their assessment of this third Batman film. It's too long, there's too many plot holes and not enough Batman in costume the critics bemoaned. I started to fear that the movie I had been anticipating for so long would fail to live up to the hype. Would Batman stumble at the third hurdle much like Spider-man and the X-Men had done in the past? Thankfully I am able to report that The Dark Knight Rises manages to wrap up the trilogy in a satisfactory manner. Granted it's not without its faults, but it's still an excellent movie and probably my favourite of the three superhero summer blockbusters. Sorry Avengers, you were a lot of fun but the plaudits you got were excessive given your wafer thin plot. Spider-man? Not terrible, but I wanted more than the unnecessary retelling of your origin with a weak main villain that we got.
Set eight years after the last film, The Dark Knight Rises starts off by showcasing the aftermath of Joker and Two Face's rampage. Gotham City has managed to rid itself of the crime which plagued its streets, but the victory is bittersweet for the heroes who fought for it. Commissioner Gordon is wrestling with the guilt of pinning the blame of Harvey Dent's death on Batman whilst praising the former DA who actually threatened his family after losing his mind (horrific scars to your good looks and the death of your fiancÚ will do that to a man.) It's a necessary evil though as the cover up allowed the passing of a new law which helped take down the criminal organisations that had a stranglehold over Gotham. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) has lost his purpose in life. The demise of his romantic interest robbed him from a chance of happiness and with crime eradicated there is no need for his pointy eared alter ego. Wayne now spends his days a recluse at home... much like myself only with a bigger bank account.
The peace is however shattered with the introduction of Bane a masked terrorist and former member of the League of Shadows (the group responsible for Batman's training in the first movie.) In one foul swoop he takes care of the Gotham police department plunging the city into anarchy. Bane's endgame is to destroy Gotham by using some sequestered Wayne Industries technology and ultimately succeed were Ra's al Ghul failed in the first film. Batman is forced out of retirement to tackle this new threat, but rusty after eight years out of action and nursing numerous injuries from his crime fighting escapades how can he possibly beat this new masked menace who would be a serious challenge even during his prime?
Christian Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne maintains the high standard he set in the previous instalments of the franchise. It's hard to not like the guy unless you happen to be that lighting bloke he lambasted during the filming of Terminator Salvation (oh good for you.) Tom Hardy also proves what an accomplished actor he is as Batman's nemesis Bane. The muscle bound terrorist proves to be a worthy match for Batman both physically and mentally as proven by the elaborate scheme he concocts to bring Gotham to its knees. My only complaint with both actors would have to be the silly voices they adopt. Bane, as has been pointed out by others, appears to be mimicking Sean Connery and in a few scenes it is hard to make out what he is saying due to the mask which covers his mouth. As Batman, Bale continues to speak in the gruff tone that has been parodied since the last film. I can understand the need for Wayne to disguise his voice, but Batman persists with the hoarse delivery even when speaking to characters who know his secret identity.
Much like Heath Ledger who won over critics as the Joker, Anne Hathaway proves the naysayers wrong with her take on Selina Kyle (Catwoman.) She's the character that I enjoyed watching the most and not just because she fills that skin tight outfit so well. If we analyse the film thoroughly it could be argued that her appearance could have been trimmed out altogether, as it doesn't serve a major part in the story, but I'm glad she was included as she injects an element of fun which balances out an otherwise dark tale. It was always a hoot seeing her get the better of Wayne in their exchanges, although when you consider how many times she double crosses him I cannot help but wonder why he entrusts her to come onside during the finale. Even though in the more realistic Nolan-verse a cat suit wouldn't wash, I'm glad they incorporated a feline design to her appearance via some cleverly shaped cat ear goggles.
Apart from the leads the movie benefits from having a strong supporting cast. Morgan Freeman returns as Lucius Fox - he is to Batman what Q is to James Bond. Gary Oldman reprises the role of commissioner Gordon and delivers a solid performance, although he is given much less screen time this time round as his character isn't as integral to the plot as he was in the last film. This time round most of the detective work gets delegated to John Blake a rookie cop played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Since I first spotted him on 3rd Rock from the Sun I have been impressed with how he has matured as an actor. Blake constantly strives to do what is right reminding viewers of what a younger Bruce Wayne was like, in contrast to the movie's current protagonist who is jaded after all the tribulations he has had to endure.
Is The Dark Knight Rises the weakest movie of the trilogy? Yes, but that isn't much of a criticism given the exceptional standard of its predecessors. It's a fine movie in its own right, managing to keep me entertained throughout the almost three hour long running time (no mean feat given my short attention span.) Viewers should however be warned that this a dialogue heavy piece and early on moments of action are sparse. Later on things do however pick up and those patient enough to put up with the exposition heavy beginning will be rewarded with some exciting chase scenes courtesy of Batman's new toys, the Bat cycle and a flying vehicle known simply as the Bat.
What worked less well were the actual fights involving human characters. Near the end the remnants of the Gotham PD take on Bane's forces in a battle were I was left scratching my head. Why had everyone involved seemingly forgotten how to use firearms? Batman's encounters with Bane could also have been better. Their duels came across as sluggish, possibly due to the limitations of having to choreograph the sequences with a bulky bat suit in mind. In the end Catwoman upstages them all with the acrobatic displays she performed earlier in the movie. I guess it's only ironic that a cat burglar would "steal" the show.
The Dark Knight Rises won't get the universal acclaim of The Dark Knight, but I can still highly recommend it. The loss of the Joker is noticeable, but I think Bane is a worthy replacement. He's not as charismatic as the clown prince of mayhem, but this take on the character is still more engrossing than the roided up grunting version we saw in Batman and Robin. Those familiar with the source material should enjoy how Nolan managed to take ideas from some well known Batman books and weave them together into a coherent epic with twists and turns that will catch audiences off guard. Just be sure to watch both Batman movies prior to seeing this one because it really is the end chapter of a trilogy. If you are one of those people who has only ever seen The Dark Knight you may get lost due to the frequent call backs to Batman Begins.
Summary: Weakest of Nolan's three Batman movies, but still excellent.