Movie reviews by critics and fans alike along with a hefty box office take for the previous movies leave little doubt that Nolan’s Batman is the most successful yet. This weekend sees the final entry in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. I’m keeping this relatively spoiler free for a change. In the immortal words of Heath Ledger’s Joker, “And here we go…”
Written once again by the Nolan brothers and David S. Goyer (story only) The Dark Knight Rises promised to end the journey of the caped crusader that started in 2005’s Batman Begins. The story takes place 8 years after the events of the previous movie and thanks to ‘The Dent Act’, a criminal bill named after former DA Harvey Dent, organized crime has been banished from the streets of Gotham. The Batman (Christian Bale) hasn’t shown himself since the night he took the blame for the murders that were actually committed by Two Face. The entire foundation of the crime free society is built around a lie, the guilt of which sits heavily with an aging Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).
The film lends heavily from well known comic storylines like No Man’s Land and the Knightfall series. The only liberties that are taken by Nolan & Co are with the character’s origins. Bane is a super villain who gains power through his venom-powered super strength and intellect in the comics but appears in Rises as a terrorist with a breathing issue and a vendetta against Gotham.
The movie comes with some significant twists and turns throughout that would come as a surprise to anyone not familiar with the comics. Anyone familiar with Batman lore may be able to see them coming a mile away. Either way it’s still a dream come true to see Batman represented on the big screen once again.
THE GOOD – While this isn’t the best entry in the trilogy it is still an excellent movie. Bale is still the best version of Bruce Wayne/Batman since Michael Keaton and portrays both roles with such wonderfully separate personalities making it believable that most people would never guess the connection between the two. While I had reservations about Hathaway as Catwoman she took the character and made it her own. While it didn’t have the quirks of Michelle Pfeiffer’s sexy cat burglar she still appeared as a force to be reckoned with often playing on female stereotypes where needed in order to get what she wants.
Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman reprise their roles as Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon respectively and don’t fail to impress.
THE BAD – I like Bane as a character and I thought the change in origin story was quite good, including the reason behind the mask. However it felt like Bane could have been portrayed by any bald guy with a ton of muscles as the mask obscured most facial features making him a hard character to relate to. I have no doubt of Tom Hardy’s acting ability but he was underutilized here.
As for story points there were two things that struck me: Firstly, at times, it felt as if the story was struggling to get itself heard. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both had very clean cut stories. The audience understood the risks and the problems that needed solving. In Rises it’s not as clean cut. At what appears to be the crescendo of Bane’s master plan it wasn’t even clear what the threat was and could have used some tightening up. Secondly, and in a complete flip of the previous point, there were some scenes that were so obvious that it pulled you out of the film completely. Around the halfway point you practically discover how everything’s going to end for our beloved dark knight (that’s right, he opens a florist shop and spends the remainder of his days arranging flowers).
Overall I still loved the movie. Was it the best we could have got for the final installment? Probably not. But it was extremely close. With such high expectation from the previous entries it was practically impossible to raise the bar any more.
This trilogy will likely stand as the definitive movie version of Batman for a long time to come. Or at least until next year when Hollywood decides to reboot/remake it.
I give The Dark Knight Rises 8.5 nipples on the bat suit out of 10.