Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

Complete Synopsis:

Christopher Nolan has finished up the Batman series in remarkable style. Where Batman Begins was about conquering fears and the Dark Knight was about traversing the fine line between order and madness; the Dark Knight Rises seems to be a movie about compromise and acceptance.

It has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent and Gotham has settled down into some semblance of peace. The main instigators of this crime-free age, however, have many scars for their trouble. Bruce Wayne ( Christian Bale ) is a reclusive cripple- with shot knees and scar tissue riddling his body. Commissioner Gordon ( Gary Oldman ) has found his career is now burdened by the lie that he and Batman wove to keep Harvey Dent's reputation spotless- so much so that he is separated from his family. Alfred ( Michael Caine ) despairs about Bruce Wayne's welfare- fearing that his master wants little more than a grand death. And Lucius Fox ( Morgan Freeman ) is attempting to stave Wayne Enterprises from bankruptcy thanks to all the money that Wayne has invested into Miranda Tate's ( newcomer Marion Cotillard ) renewable energy source.

However a new threat emerges in the guise of Bane ( Tom Hardy )- a massive masked mercenary who has a connection to Batman's past. He claims to want a new Gotham where the 'have-nots' can rule over the 'haves' and bring true justice to the rich and corrupt. Alongside him is Selina Kyle ( Anne Hathaway ) a cat burglar who motives are enigmatic at best. It is therefore up to the old guard as well as idealistic cop John Blake ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) to try and hold Gotham together.

Nolan has gone for bigger is better in his third movie of the trilogy and it certainly comes off as an sweeping, epic movie. Christian Bale probably gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman and the scenes he has with Caine's Alfred are particularly moving. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are both very good also- with the scenes between Oldman and Gordon-Levitt ( probably the best of the newcomers ) nice to watch.

But as good as the film doesn't really seem to cover much more new ground. This isn't really helped by their choice of villain. Hardy does a good job as Bane, but he isn't helped by his breathing mask which makes him, at times, hard to understand. Furthermore, while Bane is shown to be dangerous, Nolan seems to be forcing the viewer to show how dangerous he is. Without the personal and affable menace of Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul or the twisted and frightening charisma of Ledger's Joker, Bane's most menacing moments come before the real action kicks off. Furthermore, it's difficult to see why anyone would want to follow him- utopia or not.

As for Catwoman, Hathaway is very good in the role, but her character seems to be frustrating at times- seeming to just sit on the fence for the heck of it. Cotilliard's Miranda Tate is a fairly bland character that doesn't add much to the proceedings either.

Furthermore, while the movie is indeed epic in scope, it sometimes gets lost in its own arcs in a way that the Dark Knight never did. The twists and turns that would have been seen as remarkable in the Dark Knight in this movie came across as almost unnecessary.

Begins was a tight film that revolved around a single plot arc and holds together well. The Dark Knight was the true noir epic- a sweeping tale about morality and order in a insane city. The Dark Knight Rises is a flawed masterpiece- it's achievements not quite living up to the ambitions that it perhaps had. However, any Batman movie directed by Christopher Nolan is probably a good one. This is no exception.

Kid Friendly: No
Bad Ass Factor: Yes
Date Friendly: Yes
Overall Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

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