Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

“Gotham, take control… take control of your city”

If there’s one thing that I loathe, and the internet is full of, it’s hyperbole. The effervescent nature of the constantly channeled and linked highway that we all are almost useless without nowadays is just so disgusting at times. It finds more and more ways everyday to over sell what are already amazing things to us so that we can then feel disappointed about thanks to aforementioned sales pitch. Allow me to take this moment to attempt to present some contextual additions as it relates to my thoughts about this film, sans hyperbole, if I may.

Since 2005 Christopher Nolan has been pushing his take on the Batman character and his progression. What’s made his films so beloved isn’t so much the stories or the action – two elements that are almost crucial to any comic-book movie, I’m sure – but rather the idea, I can almost hear someone playing the clip from Inception now. The idea of this, as he puts it, “elemental” being who stands for something greater than any one man. In the previous Batman films, while the thought was there it was never truly discussed at any point. What makes Nolan’s films so much more interesting, more than the idea of Batman, is the idea of the men he has to go up against. While the day to day goings on of the likes of Spider-Man who spends a lot of his time taking down liquor store thieves and saving kittens from trees – I still love you Spidey – Batman has always been a case of being needed for a greater kind of villain.

In Batman Begins we were facing Raz Al Ghoul (Liam Neeson) a man who felt that balance was needed in the world and that it would be achieved by taking Gotham (good and bad) out of the equation completely, in The Dark Knight we had The Joker (Heath Ledger) a man who just wanted to watch the world burn because he thought it’d be fun, and now we have Bane (Tom Hardy) a man who believes in making the world suffer in order to realize that all they believe they had achieved was nothing in truth. All these bits are what make this franchise stand out in comparison to what superhero films are today. Most other superhero films, while I still adore them, are pretty much two hour versions of a Saturday morning cartoon show in which we see clearly drawn out lines of good and evil (with little discussion as to what makes either) and then the eventual final battle scene. The Dark Knight films do somewhat fall into that category, but at the same time thanks to the very aforementioned elemental pieces of this particular puzzle it makes it so much more.

As I step back and take a moment to look back at my then initial reaction reviews at The Dark Knight as well as Inception I notice a pattern, a pattern that is so eloquently put in this comic strip that was shared earlier last week over at /Film. As time went by both of those movies have lost that initial amazing reaction in place I find myself appreciating them, flaws and all, or what they represent. That is the joy that movies give me. It’s hard for any film to be “perfect”, while I may sling that word around from time to time in reviews, and this movie is not that. It has a lot of plot holes and leaps that had to be made. However, regardless of those trappings the film remains a brilliant effort and even more amazing time spent in a dark room for over two and a half hours, which something 90% of the films released in any year cannot claim to be.

I spoke already about Bane and a little bit about what he represents. The reason why I enjoy that so much is that it’s what Batman needed to shine. Not only are we dealing with a slightly aged Batman (now teetering on forty-years of age and feeling the effects of his previous jaunts as the caped crusader), but we’re finally dealing with a villain who is actually more physically than he could ever dream of managing, even eight years ago.  Previously the question was whether Batman could be what was needed more in an emotional and psychological sense to defeat his upcoming opponent, now it also entails his physical limitations and that proves to be a worthy period in the realm of Nolan’s trilogy.

While others are surprised, I remain expectedly gleefully smitten with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I do feel that some of the Catwoman/Batman plot was rushed for the sake of the final half hour of the film, but regardless every time we saw Hathaway make that shift from Catwoman the burglar to whateer role she played to get out of a predicament or two, visa versa, was just a moment where a smile made its way across my face.

Rating: 10/10