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The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Review

July 20, 2012

Christopher Nolan took a bold approach to Batman when “Batman Begins” was released, providing powerful realistic back-story to a character many were familiar with but never saw portrayed as real.  In “The Dark Knight” we saw the evolution of Batman as he rose to confront the Joker.  The first two films provided a powerful introduction to the character of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale).  While “The Dark Knight Rises” is a solid ending to this evocative trilogy, it feels in many ways like it could have been better.

The film paints the picture of a city eight years after the events of the previous film in which Bruce Wayne thinks Gotham no longer needs Batman and many are starting to wonder if past tough-on-crime efforts that led to filling the prisons with criminals were worth it.  It takes a visit from a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) to wake Bruce Wayne from his doldrums and motivate him to live again.  Soon the appearance of a strange masked-man named Bane (Tom Hardy) pushes Bruce Wayne to take on the persona of Batman once again in the protection of the city.

Batman is not the main star of the show, however, as Catwoman and young police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are each given significant screen-time as they do their part to deal with the terror plaguing Gotham.  Spreading the spotlight among three main heroes saves the film from further descent into mediocrity because Batman is so seldom seen.  Hathaway and Gordon-Levitt are both fantastic and give their characters true screen presence.

The film falls short of perfection in a few ways.  First, and most obvious, is the poor pacing.  Though it is only 15 minutes longer than the previous film, it fails to find the sweet-spot that “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” did so well.  Nolan could have cut a good 30 minutes from the film to give it a more cohesive flow but instead I felt my mind wander in many spots.  Second, the plot strains the lines of believability even more than its predecessors.  Bane’s antics are so over-the-top that I wondered how he could possibly have done as much damage as he did without anyone stopping him sooner.  If you had issues with believability in “The Dark Knight” be prepared to shake your head.

Hans Zimmer (and company) provides another brooding mix of orchestra and synth for the soundtrack, borrowing heavily from his work for “The Dark Knight.”  Though some may find this recycling of material to be lazy, I found it gave weight to many of the major scenes.  The new musical ideas for Catwoman and Bane are fitting and work well throughout.  The Moroccan tribal chanting that accompanies Bane is powerful and evocative.

Despite a few negatives, “The Dark Knight Rises” manages to provide a solid conclusion to Nolan’s Batman saga that is sure to please fans.  It explores a few deep issues that are likely to linger with viewers long after the film.  Though it fails to rise above the bar set by “The Dark Knight,” it delivers big-screen thrills of the sort expected for a summer Blockbuster and demands to be seen in theaters.


NOTE: I didn’t see the movie in IMAX but it is said that Nolan filmed many of the major scenes with an IMAX camera.  Many IMAX theaters also sport more powerful speakers that may make it worth the extra cost.


From → Action, Comic-Book, Drama

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