Movie review: The Dark Knight Rises

As Hilary would say, holy flying crap weasels. We saw The Dark Knight Rises yesterday and it was incredibly fabulous. From the score, to the cast, to the plot-line in general, it was a great, great film. While I know a lot of people are likely comparing it to The Dark Knight, specifically with regards Health Ledger and Tom Hardy’s performances, and finding it isn’t quite up to snuff, I would have to disagree. Oh yes, Heath Ledger played an incredibly terrifying villain, and that made the second film. Hardy’s Bane doesn’t get under your skin quite as much, because he’s more conventional I would argue. You learn his origins, you learn his motivation, and he has a very obvious Achilles heel so to speak. The reason why the Joker is so eerily chilling is because you never get the chance to understand him, and in psychological warfare, he’s unbeatable. But that doesn’t mean that Hardy doesn’t deliver an utterly convincing and highly creepy performance, using diction – somehow – as a fear tactic. The third movie isn’t lacking, it’s just a different sort of film; it’s the perfect conclusion to this epic trilogy.

In this film, we see less of the meaty action – Batman defeating a villain – and we see more resolution – all the loose ends are being tied up, and that necessitates a whole lot of deep character work. This film is a sort of hybrid in tone of the first two, and I can see how that might not be everybody’s thing, especially after Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance. The second film was very dark, very gritty, and very, very haunting. This film has those classic Nolan dark elements, but the focus is more on Gotham city, and resolving Batman’s role within it. Ultimately though, I think it was truly, a marvelous conclusion.

Michael Cane, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman, naturally, deliver solid performances in their supporting roles, and Christian Bale maintains, with consistency, his jaded, damaged, often only-somewhat-likable, badass Batman. The new cast of characters are truly great as well. Anne Hathaway is a surprisingly convincing Cat Woman. While I had my reservations (I mean her break out role was in Princess Diaries) she plays a perfectly manipulative, seductive, yet utterly broken woman. A most pleasant surprise. Hardy is near unrecognizable as Bane and, while we all know I am highly biased when it comes to him, I really think he did well. He’s gritty and rough which abjectly juxtaposes with his perfect diction and muffled voice. I’m beginning to suspect that Christopher Nolan either LOVES Marion Cotillard or HATES her between this role, and hers in Inception, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was just delightful. He’s always just incredibly believable, and through the horrors wreaked upon his city, we see Levitt’s character rather come of age. That’s all I’ll say on that topic in case you haven’t watched it yet …

Round off the whole film with a score by Hans Zimmer (haunting, chilling, powerful and sweeping), and you’ve got a solid, solid, movie. Never has a comic book adaptation been so sophisticated and so atypical. Nolan brought Batman back to life (after the bat-nipple debacle) by going back to the beginning and telling the story in a way so gripping because it was so dark and so haunting. Death and destruction done right I would say. I’ll miss Nolan’s Dark Knight, but am so very pleased that he’s ending it on a strong note, before the series gets away from him. The Batman franchise really needed Nolan to resurrect it and do it justice. We would give this movie a 9/10 and we highly recommend you watch it.

~ Julia

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