The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises, 2012, USA/UK
And so ends the greatest trilogy I’ve ever seen. Christopher Nolan has created three masterpieces that will certainly stand up as a classic trilogy beside other trilogies such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Back to the Future.
It’s hard to determine where The Dark Knight Rises stands among the first two Batman films. It’s not quite as good as The Dark Knight, but it is still an extraordinary, emotional film. After much consideration, I’d probably put it at the same level as Batman Begins. It has its flaws, but it remains a brilliant film. It was a satisfying and worthy end to the trilogy, in my opinion.
I firmly refuse to reveal any spoilers or plot information, because it is best to go into the film not knowing much of anything. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman, and Tom Hardy joins the cast as Batman’s latest foe, Bane. Anne Hathaway takes on the role of Catwoman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also joins the cast as John Blake, a rookie, idealistic cop that contrasts Gary Oldman’s more cynical James Gordon.
The film closes in at almost three hours and, while I wasn’t bored, I did recognize that there were some issues with pacing and plotting. At times the film is a bit slow, but the final half hour is some of the best 30 minutes of the entire trilogy. The plot is captivating, emotional and rich.
The bar was set so high after The Dark Knight that it would have been nearly impossible to hit the bar again. Bane is a powerful and memorable villain, but he just isn’t the Joker. In many respects, it is best that Hardy didn’t try to imitate what made the Joker such a memorable character, because it is impossible to shine a light on Heath Ledger’s outstanding performance. Hardy stood his own as Bane and has left his own original mark on the trilogy. I also must admit that I didn’t care for his voice. It’s hard to believe it, but there is a voice in the Batman universe more irritating than Bale’s Batman voice. The accent was bizarre and annoying, and his voice itself was over-processed. I also had some difficulty hearing some of Bane’s dialogue, so I feel like I need to see the movie again to pick up on some of the nuances (I would have said that regardless of whether I could hear Bane or not, though!).
Hathaway was surprisingly good as Catwoman, even if it was a bit odd to see her playing a femme fatale. But, I appreciated the character, and she is a truly strong and powerful woman in the film. Gordon-Levitt was the highlight of the newcomers, though. I adored his character, and actually wished we got to see even more of him than we ultimately did.
I am still disappointed that The Dark Knight did not receive a Best Picture nomination. I think that The Dark Knight Rises will end up receiving a nomination. It may even have a chance at winning, depending on how strong the films are later this year. If it wins, it will be an Oscar for the entire trilogy.
The Dark Knight Rises is a film that elicits strong opinions from people. If you love it, you will love it passionately, and if you hate it or feel disappointed by it, you will do so passionately. I understand why people would dislike the film, but I adored it. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s still one of the best films of the year.