The Dark Knight Rises
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
After all of the craziness surrounding the opening of the last film in the Dark Knight Trilogy and some of the craziness in my own life, I finally was able to see The Dark Knight Rises in its third week in the theaters. I heard mixed reviews about the film, with action fans loving it and comic book purists taking extreme issue with it. I decided to enter the theater with an open mind.
The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent’s transformation into Two-Face has been concealed from the people of Gotham, his death ruled a murder, allegedly committed by Batman. In the wake of his death, a new law was passed with harsher punishment for Gotham’s criminals. Damaged recluse Bruce Wane (Christian Bale) has given up the cloak and presumably lost all interest in his company. But a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) who steals his mother’s pearl necklace stirs the detective in him. The emergence of a new terrorist known as Bane and the undermining of his company brings Wayne back to his calling as vigilante of the night.
Bane, a monstrous masked man with incredible strength and fighting prowess and a maniacal mind to match, uses Batman’s fascination with Selina Kyle (AKA: Catwoman) to lure him into Gotham’s underground where he confronts Batman. The resulting fight ends in disaster with Batman beaten and broken. Bane brings him to the hellish foreign prison Bane spent much of his life in and forces Bruce Wayne to watch as he terrorizes the citizens of Gotham, freeing the inmates of Blackgate Prison and revealing the truth about Harvey Dent and the law that sent them all there. Bane’s final act – to retrieve the nuclear core from Bruce Wayne’s suspended energy project and turning it into a nuclear bomb. Broken, depressed and losing hope, can Batman find a way to escape the prisons of his mind and body in order to escape The Pit and take back the city of Gotham?
Although a tad too long, the action fan in me found The Dark Knight Rises to be a lot of fun with lots of explosions, chase scenes, gunfire and more. I also found it a bit scary that the events of this film could actually take be enacted and may very well spark ideas in fanatical minds out there. The scenes of bridges, etc. exploding are very spooky to someone who has experienced the events of 9/11.
Christian Bale is as perfect as ever as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Michael Bane does an admirable job as Alfred Pennyworth. Surprisingly enough, Anne Hathaway does a terrific job as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, but I loathed Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane. His voice just seemed all wrong to me – it just didn’t match the man’s visible persona. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a terrific new edition as John Blake, a sharp-minded police officer who shares a lot more with Bruce Wayne than he could ever imagine.
The musical score of the film, composed by Hans Zimmer, was quite dark. I reviewed the score for this site prior to seeing the film, but had no idea how amazing it really was. Hearing it in tandem with the visuals of the movie gave me a new respect for the composition. I now understand the chanting in the last track, Rise, also a nice explanation for the title of the film.
I also enjoyed the surprising little plot twist at the end of the film. It actually made me angry that I hadn’t seen it coming sooner. After all, the director gave us enough hints about what was coming – I just never recognized the signs.
There is plenty in The Dark Knight Rises for comic book fans to love. For one thing, Catwoman is presented very well, from the cat suit to the goggles to the sensual way she behaves around Bruce Wayne and Batman to the constant war inside between good and evil. They will be happy with the maniacal ways in which Bane terrorizes Batman and the citizens of Gotham. They will also enjoy the surprise appearances by Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul and Talia al Ghul.
But there are just as many things for avid Batman comic book fans to take exception to. First of all, where is Bane’s Venom? You know, that steroid-like creation that enhances Bane’s strength. And since when was Bane trained by Ra’s al Ghul? The way Catwoman and Batman meet will leave something to be desired, though the way things turn out is just what some of the comic books’ alternate universes call for. And the appearance of Robin is also quite different from the comics – to say more will give too much of the film away.
Despite the issues that the comic book lover in me would take fault with, the action lover in me thinks that The Dark Knight Rises was a lot of fun. The action is great, the storyline is acceptable (in comic book world, although it is a bit scary when you think of Gotham as New York City and how terrorists would just love to use Bane’s ideas to terrorize us), the musical score is spot on and the ending is left open. Leaving the ending open is genius. Yes, I know that Christopher Nolan said that there would be no more Dark Knight movies, but can we be sure that Batman won’t return, maybe this time with Robin. Or just maybe he was setting things up to do a Nightwing film…hmmm.