Good day to you ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another film review. Today’s review will be on the film that we’ve all been waiting for, the epic conclusion to the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy of films; The Dark Knight Rises.
Now like I said in my Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012 segment on The Dark Knight Rises is there really any need for me to talk about how big this film is? Do I really need to try and convince you to see this film? Chances are you’ve already seen it or are going to watch it. Everybody knows about The Dark Knight Rises and the hype for this film leading up to its release has been ridiculously high. So the real question is; after all this time has Christopher Nolan delivered a satisfying conclusion to his Batman trilogy? Well I can say without a doubt that the answer to that question is a big fat YES! The Dark Knight Rises is FRIGGING AWESOME! FACT.
So what’s the story in TDKR? Well the film takes place 8 years after the events of TDK and it seems like Gotham City has been in a state of peace for a while thanks to the Dent Act, that is until a new theat appears on the scene in the shape of Bane. Despite his tarnished reputation after the events of TDK, in which he took the rap for Dent’s crimes, Batman feels compelled to intervene to assist the city and its police force which is struggling to cope with Bane’s plans to destroy the city.
The plot of TDKR is deep, dark, elaborate and has many layers to it. I found the story in this film to be very deep and involving from start to finish. I loved how the film handled the events from The Dark Knight and still made them relevant in this film, and it was also impressive how the film sets up all of these new characters along with some of the more established people from the previous two films and make them all come together and have a purpose. The plot as a whole I prefered to the TDK, while the TDK did have a lot to like in terms of corruption, chaos and moral and ethical decisions that had to be made I think I liked TDKR more because it was on a larger scale, with greater stakes and we had a villain that was ready to sink Gotham city into the ground. Everything about TDKR just screams better to me. Granted that the plot does take a little while to get going in the first act because of the new characters and plot points to establish, but once the film gets into the swing of things it is awesome.
Now let’s take about the characters of TDKR and while there are many, I feel like I will only talk about the 3 main characters; Batman, Bane and Catwoman and then mention any other relevant people afterwards. But just to let you know now the standout performances come from Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway as their performances really did resonate with me and stayed with me after the film ended.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman was actually really good in this film and I think it is his finest performance in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Before this film I thought he had made a decent Bruce Wayne, but I was never overly fussed, nor had I ever been attached to his character, but his performance really won me over in TDKR due to the circumstances that take place in the film, the journey Bruce/Batman has to go on and what that does to him physically and mentally. While in the previous two films we’ve seen Bruce go through a lot, I don’t think any amount of training could prepare him for what happens in TDKR. I mean he’s been out of the game as Batman for 8 years and has become a recluse, but when Bane is on scene he has to become Batman once again to save Gotham. And I found it really interesting the way Bruce had to get back into swing of things as Batman, how he had to get into the right mindset and physical groove for his encounters with Bane. Bale brought his A-game in this film and for the first time in this trilogy I really liked his version of both Bruce and Batman. There are some really deep and emotional moments with this character and you go through it all with him over the course of the film as he falls from grace and has to build himself back up again.
Let’s talk about Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I am just going to say it right now, Anne Hathaway kicked ass as Catwoman. The interesting think about her character was her history and her motives for doing what she does, sure she is a thief living on the wrong side of the law but she has a reason for doing it and I love how Catwoman was relevant to the main plot too. Ms. Hathaway brings the smart, cunning and sexy nature of Catwoman from the comics to the big screen, it is easy to get attached to her to her character because Hathaway portrays her in such a great way and another thing Hathaway got right was the fighting elements too. She kicks so much ass in this film and I was really impressed by Hathaway, I think this is her best role in any film ever. And yes she looks sexy as hell in that cat suit yo! 😀 Now let’s move onto Tom Hardy as Bane. Simply put, he killed it as Bane. Bane was a very captivating character and a great villain to watch in this film. He is an intelligent, calculated and menacing terrorist leader who just from looking at his face you know is just badass. Tom Hardy brings a great deal of tenacity, intensity and realism to his role and he creates this presence on-screen so when you see him you know that something’s gonna go down. Whether it’s the intense look in his eyes that’ll make you quake in fear or the way in which he delivers dialogue that’ll shit your pants, Bane is just a beast of a guy. What I love about Bane is that he is a villain with a mission, who has loads of followers willing to do his bidding, but he also isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and get in on the action himself.
Outside of Batman, Bane and Catwoman there are few other notable characters that made this film work, like Alfred. Michael Caine in The Dark Knight Trilogy has always been one of the key aspects of what makes Nolan’s films work, and while he doesn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked when he is on-screen it matters. He is still the reliable butler supporting Bruce throughout all of his endeavours, but in this film when Bruce is clearly up against a force far beyond his physical and mental capabilities he voice concern for Bruce’s safety and when he delivers his lines in this film it is so heartfelt and emotional that you can’t help but well up and maybe shed a tear for the old man. Caine is still incredible as Alfred and his character in this film has never spoken truer words. Another notable character whose relevance in this trilogy of films is massive is Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon. It was great to see his character dealing with the events of TDK and feeling guilty for covering up the death of Harvey Dent, but what is also more interesting is when the city falls into chaos and how he deals with it as he spring into action. I was glad to see the return of Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, I was interested to see where his character would go after TDK and I was glad to see how his character had changed since the last film and how he was relevant in this film too. And lastly Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake was fantastic, Blake was an intelligent and self-aware police officer who plays a big part in the film and he had some great scenes with Cruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon, he was agreat addition to an already stellar cast and I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt was almost as great as he was in Inception with the way he handled his character in this film.
There is a great deal of interesting interaction between different characters too whether it be the character dynamic will work between Batman and Catwoman or the confrontation between Batman and Bane or the more intimate moments between Bruce and Alfred or the scenes with Commissioner Gordon and John Blake. Most of the cast members all interact with each other at one point or another and it is just lovely to see how they bounce off of each other. The key thing that has my interest in the fight between Batman and Bane, finally we’re going to get a big one-on-one fight with Batman and another enemy which is totally necessary in my opinion.
Visually the film is great, everything looks stunning and while the small special effects used on stuff like The Bat look good, the main reason TDKR succeeds its down to the cinematography. The way the film is shot is simply amazing, so many times I was just taking in all of the beautiful shots of the city and those wonderfully shot scenes and sequences in the winter. Never before has a film with so little CGI and special effects ever impressed me so much. I just love how real everything is and how much practical effects they used on the film, the visual side of TDKR is truly a sight to behold. Also outside of the intimate scenes with the main characters there are some absurdly cool scenes of destruction and chaos going down. Football fields crumble, buildings are demolished, explosions happen in many locations and mass panic ensues. TDKR also gives us the best fight scenes in the entire trilogy, whether it be Catwoman throwing down against her adversaries or the incredible fight scenes between Batman and Bane. Now most Batman films seem to be lacking in the fighting department because Batman’s never been a proper fight before, but in this film the fight scenes are not only good, they are hella good! They are well-filmed, well-choreography and they’re shot in some really interesting and beautiful ways and the music that comes with these scenes only amplifies the awesomeness by 100%!
The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is great. The previous soundtracks done by Zimmer and James Newton Howard in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have been damn good, but this soundtrack is my favourite so far. This soundtrack captivated me deeply (much like when I saw Inception). Zimmer’s work is simply incredible, it is a combination of the two previous Batman films with some new themes brought into the mix for this third film. It was soft and touching in the emotional scenes or it can be loud and insane in the tense action scenes. I think my favourite track was “Gotham’s Reckoning“, it builds from the beginning to end and just becomes this ferocious and chaotic beast of a song.
Obviously there is another big question that needs to answered; is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Avengers? For me that is a tough call, I fell in love with The Avengers and watched it 4 times in the cinema, while I’ve only seen TDKR once, but I feel that I would still put The Avengers ahead of TDKR because it was everything I wanted and more. The Avengers for me was the definitive version of what a comic book film should be while TDKR gives a realistic form of a comic book film.
So in conclusion The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t just great, it was amazing. To be honest I was just expecting a film that was just going to be good but not as good as The Dark Knight, but luckily the film exceeded any expectations I had of it. It was big, loud and proud. This was my favourite of the Christopher Nolan films because it gave me everything I had wanted from a Batman film; a dramatic story with amazing dialogue, deep and interesting characters, brilliant, brutal and well-choreographed fight scenes, incredible cinematography and a fantastic soundtrack. While the film does a few nitpicky issues and many may argue that TDK is still the best Batman film around, I however beg to differ. This is my favourite Batman film, I was hooked from beginning to end and I was thoroughly satisfied with the end result. I REALLY WANT TO BAG TO SEE IT RIGHT NOW! I feel gutted for the person who has to reboot the Batman film franchise, he’s got a tought act to follow.