I’ve now seen The Dark Knight Rises twice (twice at the cinema in the same day – a new experience for me), once as a midnight screening, the other in the “Gold Class” service of Village Cinemas (wherein cinema-goers lounge in recliners and are waited on by the ushers for a higher ticket fare, for the uninitiated). The following dot points are my thoughts on the film, because I would spend far too long trying to write a full-length review given the enormity of my love for The Dark Knight and incredible admiration for Batman Begins (of all the many hundreds and thousands of films out there, The Dark Knight is the strongest contender for being considered an absolute favourite).
It’s spoiler-free, but if you were like me and in a media-blackout leading up to the film, and don’t want to have anyone else’s opinions influencing your own, skip this until you’ve seen the movie.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
- It is a DAMN good movie.
- It is probably the weakest of the trilogy, but still better than most blockbuster fare coming out these days (plus – it would be a hard, hard job topping The Dark Knight)
- Tonally speaking, it’s much closer to the comic-book feel of Batman Begins than the Heat-esque crime drama feel of The Dark Knight – up to the viewer to decide which tone is more their style.
- The first two thirds of the film are a narrative jumble; it’s not boring or confusing at all, but the film needed more streamlining in the narrative. It seems a lot like Christopher Nolan had a few different ideas of what the story would be and decided to use all of them and pile them on top of each other – it sometimes seems that too much is going on, with not enough happening.
- Some significant dramatic moments are not given quite enough attention, so the payoff doesn’t feel quite as full or satisfying as it could have.
- Action scenes are by-and-large very good; it’s a shame the football stadium is shown in all of the trailers, as it’s probably the most effective. But still a lot to entertain the action fans.
- It’s nice to see Wayne Manor again.
- Christian Bale is, surprisingly, the least impressive performance in the film – Batman is still a brooding badass, but we don’t get much more from him than we saw in the quieter/more exciting moments of The Dark Knight or even Batman Begins. It’s still a good performance, but in comparison with the others, it made the least impression.
- Tom Hardy does an excellent job impersonating a small mountain. Bane is an impressive physical force, and whenever he’s on screen the threat is very real. He also creates an oddly bewitching character – it’s easy to see why so many of his followers would follow him on sheer charisma alone. Being played by Tom Hardy probably helps the charisma a lot.
- Bane is not on screen enough. By which I really mean that his presence in the film is not felt enough – he doesn’t have an omnipresent sense of danger throughout the film à la The Joker, and it means his status as The Big Bad does not have as big an impact as it should. When he’s on screen he’s impossible to ignore, but when he’s not it’s too easy to forget the sense of villainy.
- I was expecting to be disappointed by Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle; I was actually quite impressed. It’s nice to see a focus on the character other than “sex kitten” (Batman Returns, pun intended) or “whore” (I’m looking at you, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe), and Hathaway does a good job in bringing a bit of vitality to what could easily have been a mediocre character.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great (as usual). The film is not as subtle with one of his character traits as it thinks it is. Anybody that doesn’t see it coming is a few watts short of a light bulb.
- Gary Oldman proves that even in the smallest of moments he can make Jim Gordon completely badass.
- Michael Caine is given quite a lot more to do with Alfred than the previous two films, and Alfred is definitely where the emotional-heart of this movie lies.
- Morgan Freeman is still in good form as deadpan-snarker Lucius Fox, although it feels like he should have had a much larger role in the film.
- Marion Cotillard is quite lovely (script reference. Ha.), though largely underutilised.
- In Gotham city, it takes 8 minutes to go from day to night (although there are streetlamps on, so perhaps it was meant to be dusk). For some reason, this stuck out like a sore continuity-thumb.
- It is a much better viewing experience the second time around. Knowing how several up-in-the-air plot threads of the movie’s first half play out in advance means you get a much more coherent experience. It allows you time to soak in the film rather than focussing all your attention on keeping up with what’s happening, or who’s who, and it also means that some incredibly clever and subtle foreshadowing catches your eye, whereas you don’t pick up on it in the first viewing.
A solid, entertaining, intelligent and satisfying conclusion to this incredible trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t quite meet the impossibly high standards set by The Dark Knight, and the slightly A.D.D. storytelling makes it a bit of a mess at times, but it is a big and entertaining film with lots to love, and a very worthy payoff for all those who have devoted a lot of love to Nolan’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader.