Movie Review

Movie Review – The Dark Knight Rises

"You don't owe these people anymore; you've given them everything."

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I’ve been a Batman devotee for as long as I can remember, and it’s the rare film that can live up to the colossal hype that’s intensified with years of pent-up anticipation. And really there’s nothing more unfortunate than an anticlimactic ending that tarnishes a well-told story’s legacy. Fortunately, I’m thrilled to report that The Dark Knight Rises exceeded my expectations by an immense margin. The film is an epic blend of poignant emotions and mindblowing thrills. Simply put, it’s a masterpiece. (And I’d advise anyone who has yet to watch the movie to refrain from reading the rest of my review because I do intend to spoil the film thoroughly).

Over the past few years, I’ve realized that I’ve strayed quite a bit from film and slowly but surely found myself more invested in television. Great TV affords writers the luxury to shape multidimensional and layered characters over the course of several seasons. Luckily, Christopher Nolan has managed to procure the same investment from the viewing public as his Batman trilogy was unveiled gradually over many years.Β  But it’s The Dark Knight Rises that singlehandedly managed to remind me just how powerful a motion picture could be. Christopher Nolan has done a phenomenal job of restoring the Dark Knight’s reputation after the utter disaster that was Batman & Robin and thankfully, the final chapter of his era is a tremendously satisfying production on every level.

Although I felt Christian Bale was partly sidelined in The Dark Knight in favor of Heath Ledger’s infamous performance, Bruce Wayne’s journey rightfully took center-stage in Batman’s final installment. Mr. Wayne got some magnificent moments, and I have to say my personal favorite was his rising out of the prison in a most heroic sequence that got my blood pumping like no other. Furthermore, I loved that he got his happy ending with Selina in Florence; Nolan can be such a sadist sometimes and I was sure the trilogy would end with Batman’s demise. Color me majorly impressed.

Now a truly great superhero movie can’t properly flourish without a legitimately sinister antagonist, and Bane proved to be a fantastic choice as the trilogy’s final villain. Ruthless, brutal, and just plain horrifying, Tom Hardy managed to overcome a slightly muddled voice by conveying so much with just his eyes and body language. While The Joker was an intimidating villain to be sure, he couldn’t really stand toe-to-toe with Batman physically, which is what made Bane’s confrontations with Batman so powerful and haunting. The brute strength, the unsettling demeanor, the unpredictability, all of these elements combined to make Bane a bona fide supervillain to remember (and fear). Brilliant.

The film’s most exceptional revelation is undeniably Anne Hathaway. Ever since news broke that she had been cast as Selena Kyle, I was sure Christopher Nolan had made a mistake. After all, Michelle Pfeiffer had cemented herself as the Catwoman of the century and the promotional material leading up to this film didn’t do Hathaway any favors (particularly in that generic costume.) So imagine my surprise when Hathaway turned out to be one of the film’s highlights. Sexy, dangerously charming, and frequently hilarious, Anne epitomized everything that the iconic cat burglar represents.Β  In addition, Anne was outstanding in the film’s numerous action scenes. I really didn’t know she had it in her and she more than proved herself as a kickass action heroine. Moreover, her dynamic with Bruce was marvelous, perfectly conveying their legendary relationship. The playfulness, the witty banter, it was all top-notch. If the rumors of a potential spinoff are true, consider me there on opening day as I’m completely intrigued by the endless possibilities that could arise with Hathaway’s Catwoman.

If Batman Begins and The Dark Knight had any glaring flaw, it was Nolan’s lack of proficiency in handling the film’s female characters. And as any true Bat-fan knows, Wayne’s women are a lethal and intriguing bunch. Thankfully Nolan more than redeemed himself with the trilogy’s finale as he brought to life not one but two complex Bat-women. I’ve praised Hathaway quite a bit but it would be foolish of me to overlook Marion Cottilard’s compelling turn as Miranda Tate. Cotillard is both gorgeous and immensely talented to boot. Although I had already been spoiled over the Talia Al Ghul reveal, I was nonetheless ecstatic that Nolan decided to include one of Batman’s lesser known rogues in the film. Talia is a fascinating villain and I definitely would have enjoyed spending a bit more time with her post-reveal. Nevertheless, her involvement was undeniably cool and effectively brought the trilogy full circle with Ra’s Al Ghul’s legacy. It’s too bad we didn’t get a confrontation between Talia and Catwoman as that definitely would have been the cherry on top of one scrumptious cake.

The film’s action set pieces are especially breathtaking. From the numerous Batpod chases, to the football field detonation, and of course anything involving “The Bat”, the film just doesn’t let up. Moreover, since we’re so invested in Bale’s Bruce Wayne, the action has a purpose and is thus rendered especially epic. I’m most thankful that Nolan decided to forgo relying on pure CGI for his set pieces. More often than not, computer generated effects completely remove you from a director’s world but here, with a distinct emphasis on practical effects, the results are astounding. Bravo indeed.

Finally, I can not possibly discuss the film without praising the utterly majestic musical score composed by Hans Zimmer. Every single piece is a work of art; rousing, inspirational and consistently spine-tingling. The score truly makes the film and will undoubtedly remain a staple in my iTunes library for many years to come.

The fact that I wrote so much about the film and didn’t even discuss the nuclear bomb, Joseph Gordon Levitt (who was an awesome surprise particularly with the Robin nod), and of course Michael Cain and the incredible supporting cast, speaks volumes over how much of a sprawling achievement this production is. Ultimately, The Dark Knight Rises capably lived up to the lofty expectations I’d set for it.

Conclusion
With spectacular performances, riveting action, and real heart, you’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive motion picture this year. Without question, my favorite film in a long time.

Nad Rating
A+

13 comments

  1. Great review for a spending movie. My only issue is that if you're making a movie that touches on the themes of the occupy wall street movement you might as well build on the dilemmas that would go with the sudden empowerment of the impoverished citizens. While a great movie and def an exhilarating ride (plus I want to marry Hathaway) the movie falls short of it predecessor in that the citizens of Gotham are not the major they were in the dark knight and are reduced to a three minute montage

  2. Great review. I do agree with Abdallah though. There were a few flaws to the movie. Bane's death was very anticlimactic and I feel Miranda Tate kinda just popped up as the villain with no build up. I really enjoyed all of the supporting characters as they have done a great job in the previous films. I agree with Bane being a good villain this time around like how you compared Joker and Bane in these last two films is spot on. That whole last sequence with batman flying off to save Gotham, the reveal (or possible reveal) of Robin was great, and I like that we know that Bruce Wayne is able to live a normal life now. Oh and Anne Hathaway is hot…the end.

  3. You're right. I didn't even touch upon the ethical and moral issues facing Gotham citizens that were subtlety raised but not really explored in detail. It's amazing really how many themes the film managed to juggle while still managing to come out on top! I actually feel like watching it again to pick up on all the little nuggets that I missed! Thanks for commenting!

  4. You know I totally forgot about how suddenly Bane was disposed of. In fact, Batman wasn't even the one to get rid of him as the last we saw of Bane, he was blasted by Catwoman on the Batpod. It was an undeniably cool moment though
    You also have a point concerning Miranda/Thalia. As I said above, I really would have liked to have spent more time with her after she revealed her true identity as her death was pretty rushed.

    Nevertheless, although these flaws might seem quite significant, the film as a whole is such a darn impressive package that I have no problem overlooking them. As far as I'm concerned, it's as close to perfect as it could have gotten!

    On another note, I'm eternally jealous that you probably got to see it in IMAX (we don't have those theaters here yet).

  5. Good review, Nadim. I agree with you on Anne Hathaway's turn to be The Batman's feline. Though she did a good turn in this movie, Michelle Pfeiffer is still The Catwoman for me. I have to compliment Christopher Nolan though, because Christian Bale and Anne's chemistry on screen is sizzling hot. I, too, am surprised that Anne was able to pull-off her own version of Catwoman with much heart and good acting. My fave scene > a smiling Bruce Wayne with Selena towards the of the film. At last, Christopher Nolan has made Bruce/Batman a happy man with a partner. And last but not the least, a Batman movie that ended with the sun shining bright. πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks PlatinumRosebud. I agree the ending was quite unexpected and yet so wonderful to see things end on a positive note for our favorite superhero. I was really expecting a tragic ending but the Florence scene was absolutely excellent. And that Anne really was spectacular. I was SURE she would be horrible and she was the complete opposite. I'm seriously interested in any spinoff they decide to do with her Catwoman.

  7. I loooooved it!!!!! Yes, I am a little late to jump on the bandwagon but I LOVED it. At times, the movie juggled (or attempted to juggle) way too many things though. I was holding on to the edge of my seat for the length of this movie but it got especially good after Bruce climbs out of the prison (I agree with ur description of that part..I totally felt the same). The point where Miranda Tate reveals she is Thalia caught me off guard w my jaw dropped from then until the end of the movie πŸ˜› I'm proud to say that I totally called the “Joseph Gordon Levitt potentially being Robin” bit w I love the idea of it (I think the role fits him perfectly). Point is, though it lacked some of the extensive action/Batman fight scenes from the previous 2 movies, this film had a lot more depth and I like how it came full circle and tied back to Batman Begins. Though we were briefly duped into believing we would have a grim ending, the final scenes were perfect πŸ™‚ By the end of it, I was giddy and had a goofy grin on my face..I want MORE batman!
    Side note: The screen went black at ABC twice in the last 20 minutes of the film (with the audio still going on) and they had to stop and rewind. People were livid!

  8. Finally you got around to watching it! I'm really glad you loved it as it's such an epic spectacle of a production!
    I do have to disagree with you on one thing. I thought this installment had the best action of the trilogy so far (a sentiment which most people agree with). Christopher Nolan is famous for not being very proficient in filming action and I remember the sequences in the first two films being very choppily edited and hard to tell apart. This was definitely not the case with this one. The Batman-Bane sewer fight was superbly choreographed and fantastically brutal.

    And you're so right about the ending. I was sure we would get a grim one so I was goofily grinning as well!

    Oh and the black screen in ABC is unacceptable. Good thing the audience didn't take a queue from Gotham's citizens and started rioting themselves.

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