Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

And so it ends. Director Christopher Nolan ends his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Time to reflect on the last forty years of live action tales of Batman. There was the sixties with a campy TV version. Then came Tim Burton's Batman. (1989) He took the comic book superhero seriously. While Burton's Batman movies were good, too many times, Burton let the abstract painter in him overwhelm the narrative. After that, the series was nearly killed by director Joel Schmacher's Batman and Robin. (1997) That was a bloated mess. Finally, Christopher Nolan (Memento) was called in and he turned to more realism in Batman Begins. (2005) And it's with that film, that The Dark Knight Rises acts as a sequel of since many plot elements from Batman Begins are present.

The Dark Knight Rises starts us out with the rise of Bane, (Tom Hardy) a muscle bound supervilain who breathes through a mask. Bane kidnaps a nuclear scientist from the hands of American intelligence. He takes the scientist to Gotham.

In Gotham, it's been eight years since Batman was declared to be a criminal who killed District Attorney Harvey Dent. (The Dark Knight) During that time, Gotham has enjoyed peace and prosperity because of laws passed in honor of Dent. Bruce Wayne aka Batman (Christian Bale) finds himself older and without purpose. Wayne had given up on being Batman for years. Bane enlists Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) aka Catwomen to get Bruce Wayne's fingerprints. During the botched exchange of the prints and money, Kyle almost gets killed. However the police arrive with Chief Gordon (Gary Oldman) who hunts down Kyle's assailants down into the sewers. It's there he's captured and shot by Bane. Gordon is thrown down the sewer where he's saved by police officer John Blake. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Wayne visits Gordon in the hospital and tries to find out what Bane is up to. This causes Wayne to get back in the game and become Batman once again.

The Dark Knight Rises has wonderful performances by the actors. Christian Bale makes his Bruce Wayne rudderless and at a critical time gives the character, hope. Tom Hardy is scary in a judicial way. He's more than just muscle bound. He's a judge and executioner. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Chief Gordon, and newcomer to the series, Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate are believable and make you care about them. But Anne Hathaway nearly steals the movie as she should playing Catwoman. by the way, you don't really hear being called that. Hathaway is sexy, driven, bad and complicated.

Christopher Nolan and director of photography Wally Pfister have created a clear but realistic looking film. Nolan certainly knows how to let the scenes do the heavy lifting of story telling rather than rely on fancy camera movements. Action scenes feel real. One feels that the Batcopter (?) is a real vehicle. Unlike Batman Begins, fight scenes are shot like dances. Bodies are clearly seen. The result is that one is mesmerized by the story. And the screenplay by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and with a story assist by David S. Goyer coupled with Nolan's direction creates a tense atmosphere throughout the movie. One gets the feeling that Nolan is holding a Batman created mirror to society. The only misstep in Nolan's direction is having Hans Zimmmer's soundtrack pound the audience with volume. There were times that I wanted to yell at the projection booth to turn down the movie.

When Batman finally makes his appearance in the film, you will cheer and agree with the old cop telling his rookie partner that you're in for a show. The Dark Knight Rises is tense and fascinating. The grade is A.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Solid review Bernie. This is probably my favorite movie of the year for one reason and one reason only: it was probably, if not, the most epic piece of cinema I have seen in quite some time. Great send-off to everybody’s favorite caped-crusader, even as sad as it may be. Now it’s just time for Superman to hit that big-screen once again.