The Critic – The Dark Knight Rises

Here is my spoiler free review of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s epic finale to his Batman Trilogy which started in 2005 with Batman Begins. With this film making over $160 million in its opening weekend , smashing box office records for a 2D film and becoming the 3rd highest grossing film in an opening weekend behind The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 TDKR has become a must see film in my opinion, and one that will go down in the history books. What is with all the hype about the movie? Well let’s find out. EDIT: since originally writing this I have just looked at the numbers again (today being the 26th of July) and TDKR now has the highest grossing opening weekend of all time at $248.9 million. To put this into perspective the Avengers had an opening of $207 million and that was in 3D whose tickets cost more than a 2D ticket. Source: IGN.com

The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after The Dark Knight and a lot has happened since then. The police have cleaned up the streets and almost every mob member and basic criminal have been locked away in Blackgate Prison thanks the Dent Act. But no one has heard anything from Bruce Wayne in that time. He’s locked himself away in Wayne Manor and is mentally and physically deteriorating. Until Bane shows up. Bruce throws back on the Batsuit, much to Alfred’s disapproval, and goes at it once again. It is quite obvious how out of the game he is when we first see him get back into the cowl, but as the movie goes on he Rises and faces the challenges thrown at him. With stellar performances from everyone involved TDKR was an amazing end to the greatest superhero trilogy of all time.

Of course Christian Bale did an amazing job as Bruce Wayne and Batman, what else did you expect going into a movie that he has, two times before now, proved he can make this character real, as did all of the other returning actors. I don’t want to talk about them though, we know they are perfect fits for the roles they have been cast. I want to talk about the three biggest new people on set: Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

First, Tom Hardy. If you haven’t figured this out before now, Christopher Nolan enjoys working with people he has worked with in previous movies. In the Batman franchise it is made obvious by Sir Michael Caine who has worked with Nolan on The Prestige, one of my all time favourite movies, and Inception, Christian Bale has starred in The Prestige, and both Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were in Inception together. So it really is no surprise that Hardy and Levitt were in this movie. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane was absolutely brilliant, with 90% of his face covered by a mask his eyes had to do all the talking, and man did they ever. With just his eyes Hardy was able to show pain, fear, and anger, a creepy sort of calm anger, but anger none the less. I’ve been reading comics for a very long time now and never before have I been legitimately terrified by a character the same way I was with Hardy’s portrayal, Bane was a calm, ruthless human being that instilled fear into the hearts of his victims, a great performance of The Man who Broke The Bat.

Next up, Anne Hathaway. When casting news of Anne Hathaway potentially playing Selina Kyle aka Catwoman surfaced many comic book fanboys were not pleased. Why? Because fanboys like to complain at anything and everything they can. Take Nolan casting Heath Ledger for example: “Who would cast the gay cowboy from Brokeback Mountain as The Joker?” was yelled out for months and months until finally we all saw Ledger’s breathtaking performance of The Clown Prince of Crime. So when Nolan announced Anne as Selina Kyle, I put my faith in Nolan, which is what he deserves after delivering great movie after great movie, and I was rewarded with one of the strongest Catwoman performance I have ever seen. She was smart, strong, sexy, clever, and always looking out for herself, just like a she does in the comic book world; there was nothing at all wrong with her performance. The only thing I can say is that I would have liked to see her a bit more.

And finally, the man I was looking forward to seeing in these movies since it was announced he was cast, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I am a very big fan of his, he is a consistently great actor. From early beginnings in 3rd Rock From The Sun to (500) Days of Summer he has not let me down with his ability to play anything that is thrown his way. Gordon-Levitt plays Beat Cop John Blake, a new guy on the scene in Gotham and as straight of a cop as a younger Jim Gordon once was. For being a character only introduced in this film, he was incredibly important at ever stop this movie made. An orphan who never really found a home, Blake became a cop so that he could look out for the little guy. Blake is also someone who looked up to Bruce Wayne at one point in his life and to a certain extent still does, as Wayne himself was an orphan and he was always visiting the orphanage Blake grew up in and donated money regularly.  These things inspired Blake to do everything he does in this movie. Again, it is another brilliant performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and if you haven’t seen him in anything other than this and Inception, go out and buy more of his movies, you’ll be in for a treat.

There are only two VERY nit picky things that I have to say about this movie in a negative way. First off something my older brother mentioned that I didn’t think would bother me but kind of started to after a while. There was a bomb in this movie and it should have affected way more than the 6 mile radius they predicted. I can’t go further into that without there being spoilers and the whole point of this is that there are none. The other point that I feel needs to be mentioned is the pacing of this movie, specifically at the beginning. It moved to fast in the first…30-45 minutes, things were just happening and they didn’t feel that cohesive to me. At the end it all came together but it still moved really fast and at times I wished it would slow down and spend some more time with the characters. But as I said, in the end everything was wonderful.

And, to end on a happy note, the music. You know me, I love my movies to have a great sound track, and who better to deliver than the legend himself, Hans Zimmer. If you think you are unfamiliar with his work, think again, he has done all the Nolan Batman flicks, not to mention most of his other films, he has also done: Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception, Megamind, both of the newest Sherlock Holmes movies, and a little movie called The Lion King, just to name a few, he is also working on the score for the upcoming Man of Steel movies (Trailer 1     Trailer 2). His music is always spot on in everything he does, whether he is composing for a children’s film or a movie of such a large scale and reach as The Dark Knight Rises. The music in this movie is nothing short of perfection, Zimmer is always very impressive in what he does and this movie is no different. Go out and buy the soundtrack, now! Or listen to it for free HERE.

The Dark Knight Rises: 9.5/10

***

Did you enjoy this movie? Were you left a little confused by some of the choices made in the end? Or are you just curious about possible parallels between the comics and the world Nolan has come up with? Check out my spoiler filled post where I try to fill in some of the gaps that you may not have figured out, even as a comic book fan right HERE.

If you are interested in reading some more on Batman and would like to learn some more about Bane check out the comic Knightfall Volumes 1-3 in stores now, this is the origin story of Bane and is one of my favourite comics. Also TDKR draws some connections to another great Batbook: No Man’s Land, so go check that one out too. And hey while your at it grab up the latest issues of Batman and Detective Comics and start your own collection, Detective Comics just started a new story arc 2 issues ago and next month Batman Issue 12 will start a brand new one. So go to your local comic book store and they’ll be more than glad to help you out. Don’t know where one is, no worries check out the Comic Shop Locator to find the one nearest you.

And finally, and most importantly, on behalf of everyone here at The Ubiquitous Gentlemen I would like to say that our thoughts go out to all of the family who lost loved ones from the shooting at the midnight screening of TDKR in Aurora, Colorado, we are very sorry for your losses. And for those who were wounded from the shooting, we wish you a speedy recovery.

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Follow Nathan on Twitter @Nait93.

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