Christopher Nolan is one of the most interesting directors currently working. Despite a rabid fanbase, Nolan is often regarded for his portfolio of creative movies which improve with multiple viewings (Memento, The Prestige, Inception, etc.). In 2005, he recreated the origin of one of the most iconic superheroes of all time with Batman Begins, giving this universe a darker and more realistic edge that had rarely been seen in superhero movies. He even bested himself with its sequel The Dark Knight, which I myself called the pinnacle of the superhero genre in my review of The Amazing Spiderman, highlighted by Heath Ledger's already iconic performance as the Joker. Now Nolan brings his Batman saga to a satisfying close with The Dark Knight Rises, a movie that somehow manages to exceed its already high expectations.
NOTE: Remember to take this review with a grain of salt, because this is just my opinion, which may not necessarily be yours.
Eight years after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes and murder, we find a Bruce Wayne living in near seclusion, damaged by his experiences as Batman. Organized Crime in Gotham City has become a rarity, criminals like the feisty thief Selina Kyle aside. However, Anarchy is about to come back to haunt Gotham in the form of Bane, a terrorist of mysterious motives. Some people just want to watch the world burn, and Bane has come to pull the pin on the grenade, unleashing chaos upon all of Gotham, forcing Bruce to come out of hiding, and don the cowl once more as the caped crusader.
It’s honestly pretty hard to pick a standout aspect of the movie, but it’s worth pointing out each of their strong points.
|Director Christopher Nolan with an IMAX camera.|
One could say it’s Chris Nolan, who handles a difficult task in acting as both writer and director. One of the things I love about his script (which he co-wrote with his brother Johnathan) is that it ties up all the themes of the first two films, but continues to explore them in deeper ways. The ideas of anarchy, morality, and even the issues of identity crisis are explored very often. He even uses real life events to broaden the sense of chaos, such as the New York stock exchange crash, the 99% vs. the 1%, and Occupy Wall Street. The direction continues to amplify this, building layers upon layers of intensity and emotion that all culminate beautifully in the movie’s epic climax. I especially loved Nolan’s staging and pacing of the action sequences, which showcase his preference to mostly practical effects and only rely on computer imagery when necessary, a trait he’s often applauded for. It’s unquestionably the work of an auteur.
|Standout alert!: Anne Hathaway.|
One could also call the cast the standout aspect. Christian Bale further manages to put us inside the complicated workings of Bruce Wayne’s mind. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman also add a level of heart and focus to the emotion. As for new cast members, Tom Hardy terrifies as Bane, using every bit of the intensity in his eyes at his disposal. The stunning Marion Cotillard gives a subtle performance as Miranda Tate, but not one that's too extraordinary. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is a welcome ray of light to the darker nature of Gotham. But none are quite as gripping as Anne Hathaway, who exceeds any and all expectations as Selina Kyle, nailing both her alluring and intimidating characteristics.
|Batman's awesome new vehicle, the Bat.|
One could also say the technical aspects are the best part. Wally Pfister delivers with kinetic, Oscar-worthy cinematography. Nathan Crowley’s production design practically immerses the viewer inside this world. The effects supervised by Paul Franklin and Chris Corbould are jaw dropping, especially Batman’s newest and best toy yet, The Bat. Richard King provides intense, organic sound design, which plays very well with the huge (occasionally, but forgivably overbearing) sound mix. And Lee Smith, even taking his time at 164 minutes, tackles the film editing with such clockwork precision that the staggering runtime is ultimately trivial. I don’t think I ever once checked my watch.
But is this all going overboard? If anyone thinks I’m TOO enthusiastic, allow me some time to sober up. The Dark Knight Rises is a polarizing movie, and that’s saying something if your movie is more polarizing than even Inception. I have seen many reviews that criticize the movie as being convoluted, overlong, and overwhelmed by clunky action. I would have to disagree with said points, but such complaints are not without reason, and I can appreciate that not everyone will like the movie.
|Bane's plan mirrors the 99% vs. the 1%, and Occupy Wall Street.|
Nolan is something of an acquired taste (well, maybe not acquired, but he is a taste), and whether or not you’re a fan may vary on how much you enjoy this movie. You may be divided even if you are a Nolan fan. The length does take a toll, and it really makes you have to pay attention. Some have even taken issues with the real life events the film mirrors, and even criticize Bane’s dialogue as difficult to understand (although I understood every one of his lines perfectly). This all brings me to my last point, which is also true for other Nolan films: Multiple viewings will be required. A lot of you may be thinking “I don’t need to see it twice. I pretty much got everything...” no, I don’t think seeing it once is enough to judge it properly. First impressions can be deceiving. Whether or not it holds up on a second viewing remains to be seen, but I do hope it will be even more rewarding.
****1/2 / *****