Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Good, but should have been better.
It's easy to like The Dark Knight Rises. It's easy to sing the films' praise because on the surface it's all there. This is a resounding final chapter in Christopher Nolan's epic trilogy, one that moves along at such a pace that you start to wonder where the two hour, forty-five minute runtime has gone. You laugh, cry; you'll be lifted to great heights by Hans Zimmer's incredible score whilst Wally Pfister's subtle and understated cinematography is a visual treat.
But beneath it all, Rises is not without it's problems, and given the strength of Nolan's past efforts you'll be left feeling a little under whelmed.
The film opens and we're eight years on from where we left off in The Dark Knight, with Batman having taken the blame for the murders committed by Harvey Dent, to protect the image of Gotham's White Knight. It's a noble effort, and, it seems, a successful one as well, with Bruce Wayne in seclusion, the Batman retired, crime is, reportedly, at an all time low. Gotham, we are told, is in peace time, where even the cops have little to do.
But therein lies the first problem, because as much as we can believe that Batman's efforts might eradicate organised crime, it's harder to buy that every rapist, mugger and murderer leaves the streets. Of course the cops are there to deal with this, but with it all still happening can we really believe that Bruce could sit idly by and let it? It was a simple street crime that killed his parents, that gave birth to the Batman, but at present time both personas have been withdrawn for years, the Batman and the public image of Bruce Wayne, billionaire, eccentric.
And that sets off an ongoing theme throughout; this is a Batman film in which Batman barely does anything and not many answers are given as to why. If there's one major fault with Rises it's that it feels like you're watching the second part to a film that doesn't exist. Bruce Wayne is seriously injured, Gotham's 'silent guardian', or 'watchful protector', is non existent and even the source of Bruce's wealth, his parents' company Wayne Enterprises, is floundering due to Bruce putting all of it's stock into a fusion reactor that we know precious little about. These aren't continuations of ideas established in the first two films of the trilogy, they're brand new ones; which wouldn't be a problem for Rises so much if it didn't treat them merely as plot devices. Bruce's injury is conveniently overcome, the Dark Knight must, indeed, 'rise', and the fusion reactor forms the backbone of the entire plot. They suit the film but don't comfortably conclude the trilogy.
The underlining strength behind Rises, and indeed each of the three films, is the absolutely stellar cast. Each actor perfectly embodies the character they're playing; they're not acting out a part they're bringing a universe to life. While Heath Ledger is surely missed, Anne Hathaway embodies every aspect of Catwoman the way Ledger embodied the Joker, whilst Tom Hardy's Bane is a villain of Vader-like presence. The problem, though, is that some of the characters feel a little underdeveloped and the film clustered. Michael Caine's Alfred is reduced to little more than exposition before being written out of the film entirely, whilst Matthew Modine's Deputy Commissioner Foley is bland and forgettable. The weakest link, however, is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), whose romance with Bruce Wayne is rushed and un-engaging; we never feel what he supposedly feels, and we question his motives when he becomes so driven by it at the end. *SPOILER* By the time Tate is later revealed to be to be the revenge driven daughter of Ra's al Ghul, in a twist so obvious you hope the film doesn't go there, both the romance and Bane are rendered obsolete. His story suddenly becomes hers and he is quickly disposed of, and as the film enters the last ten minutes it's a mad rush to tie everything up quickly.
But to the films credit, none of these faults matter when you're watching it. Whether it's a combination of the directing, the cinematography, the score or the performances from the cast, the film is nothing if not engaging. Questions will undoubtedly arise (How did Bruce re- enter Gotham? Was Bane's plan worth it if the bomb was always going to go off? What exactly is Bane even saying?) and though they are valid concerns, only those with a weak bladder wouldn't sit their enthralled beginning to end.