The Dark Knight Rises.
We’ve been waiting a long time for the final installment of the Dark Knight trilogy. Luckily, this movie delivers. There are definitely some flaws but overall it’s a very satisfying journey.
The gist is that it’s been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight. Gotham City believes that Batman killed Harvey Dent (aka Two Face) and Bruce Wayne has gone into hiding. Of course, something crazy happens and it forces Wayne to put the cowl back on and return to be the city’s savior. Tom Hardy stars as the main villain Bane, a mercenary for hire that reveals he has big plans for Gotham. Anne Hathaway also is introduced as Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman), a cat burglar whose agenda is unclear.
Christian Bale delivers his best performance of Bruce Wayne yet. He’s given a lot to do here and it’s impressive. If anything, this movie isn’t so much about Batman, but about Bruce Wayne. We see him at the beginning of the film as a broken and defeated man, but things only get worse for him. Anne Hathaway also steals the show as Selina Kyle. She has a natural chemistry with Bale and she also delivers the most impressive fight scenes in the movie. I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention Tom Hardy. It’d be a challenge to play a character where you don’t see most of their face, but still be able to give emotion. He totally delivers and portrays Bane in a way that is completely unique and different than any of his past incarnations. He also gives an incredible physical performance, giving Batman a formidable opponent to fight against (as opposed to the cerebral battles against the Scarecrow and the Joker).
I also commend Nolan for keeping this story focused on Bruce Wayne and his trials, as you often forget that this is a superhero movie. The action is fairly limited but the emotional scenes between our characters more than makes up for it. This is a character-driven movie about pain and death and the ability to move on.
At nearly 3 hours, this movie also had an incredible pace, cramming in tons of plot and adding in a handful of new characters. It isn’t a boring 3 hours but it can feel a little exhausting.
What doesn’t work?
While this is an amazing film, there are definitely flaws. With the addition of two new villains(?) in Bane and Catwoman, in addition to some other new characters which I won’t spoil, there is a huge cast here. Because there’s so many cast members, some get relegated to the background. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine both have some memorable scenes but you eventually forget about them. Sadly, the same is true for Hathaway’s Catwoman at times. Gotham City is going to hell and she doesn’t have anything to do. When you do see her, she’s just waiting for Batman to show up and save the day. These characters don’t always have substantial roles to play.
And while Bane is a terrifying villain, I feel like he got shortchanged in the end. Without spoiling anything, I just found his closure to be unsatisfactory and it was lost amidst a pretty lengthy epilogue which was meant to wrap up the whole trilogy, but forgot about the key villain of the movie.
The Dark Knight Rises also might disappoint some viewers in its lack of action. There are a few scenes that are breathtaking but it’s definitely more focused on character than action. People that go in expecting huge epic fight scenes might be disappointed. The fight scenes that did take place were also relatively unimpressive (except for Catwoman’s finesse and a great duel between Bane and Batman in the sewers beneath Gotham). The final climax looked epic in the trailers but the actual scenes throughout the streets of Gotham weren’t nearly as impressive as I was expecting.
Now, the question everyone’s been wondering. Is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Avengers?
It’s hard to compare the two. I would say that The Dark Knight Rises is clearly a better film, in terms of character development. Its story is pretty predictable though and its action scenes were underwhelming. The Avengers had a lot of great action setpieces with some great fight choreography but very few characters had any sort of development whatsoever. And while TDKR is set in a realistic world, where things are dark and gritty, The Avengers is a much more colorful, bright, and explosive world. I enjoyed The Avengers more and I will likely end up watching it more often, but The Dark Knight Rises is a superior film in terms of quality and character. Apples and oranges.
The Dark Knight Rises is a great film, where most of the actors provide great work and it’s an amazing finale to the trilogy. While the storyline is predictable, Bane and Catwoman add new dynamics and its great to see Batman handle some new types of challenges. The new characters are great but sometimes the preexisting characters get lost in the mix. At nearly 3 hours, it’s a lengthy movie and some scenes could’ve likely been cut to tighten up the film. In general though, this is a fantastic character-driven piece that won’t disappoint most viewers.