The Dark Knight Rises
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
This is the longest of the three Christopher Nolan Batman films, and it certainly felt like it. Not that it is bad, but in comparison to the previous two it is lacking in a lot of elements. There are quite a few plot holes and inexplicable occurrences, although I am not going into detail about that. I will say that a major one involves motorcycles, so you should know what I mean when you see it or if you already have. I'm not talking about the Bat-Cycle either, although there is also a big WTF moment there too. Another negative is about time, as in "how in hell did they do that in that amount of time?" But as with many other films there are things you just have to forgive to enjoy the rest.
There are a lot of good things to enjoy, particularly the acting of Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I wasn't sure about Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, but she's pretty good, although her performance is miles away from Michelle Pfeiffer's. Michael Caine turns in his typical solid performance, particularly effective in several quiet moments between him and Bale. There are reappearances of Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Crane, and of course Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. Some of the action set pieces are very impressive, but most of the fight scenes are not, except for a climactic one between Batman and Bane.
I'm not familiar with the comic character of Bane, played by Tom Hardy, so with the exception of one incident that I've read about that is from the books, I can't say if the rest of the story is consistent with them. He is quite a bit different than most of the other Batman villains I'm familiar with (The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, etc.) They are eccentric, exaggerated, over-the-top characters, but unfortunately Bane is a little too chillingly realistic. We all know why Batman refuses to kill, but one has to wonder why the villains follow suit. There is no logical reason, other than he is the hero, that Batman was imprisoned by Bane rather than being killed.
Bane suffered some injury or illness which causes him to have to wear a mask over his mouth and nose, supposedly to alleviate pain, although that was not made very clear. It does make it difficult to hear what he says at times. Another problem with a voice is that of Bale's Batman voice. I realize he needs to disguise his voice in order to protect his identity, and in most instances it is okay. However, why would he need to continue in character when he is speaking in private to someone who already knows who he is? By the end of the film there are at least six people who know Bruce Wayne is Batman, and in the previous films Rachel knew.
I can't imagine anything I could say that would dissuade you from seeing the film if that was already your intention, and there really isn't a reason for me to try. It's only that I had anticipated the concluding chapter of the saga to be the best, and I'm disappointed it isn't. I'm also upset that the ending seems to set up a sequel when Nolan has already stated he won't be doing Batman anymore. Perhaps the reins will be turned over to his brother Jonathan, or maybe David S. Goyer, who has worked with him on all three films as well. Taking the trilogy as a whole it is exciting and exceptionally well directed and acted by most everyone concerned. The few negatives are the plot holes mentioned above, and the fact that Nolan could have made this a five or six film series if he wanted, there's that much story involved. If forced to rate and rank the films on a scale of 1-10, at this time I would give The Dark Knight at least an 8, with Batman Begins very close behind, a 7 or 7.5. It would be difficult to justify giving The Dark Knight Rises more than a 6.5, or if I increased it I would also have to raise the ratings of the other two. Since I rarely give any film a 9, and 10s are almost unheard of, that will have to do for now.
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