MOVIE REVIEW by: Jenny Aluning
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (PG-13)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Masterful! Powerful! Heart-wrenching! Hang-on-for-dear-life tension! Action-packed! And with just the right amount of dry humor, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s (who is a genius, by the way) Batman trilogy. The movie was just a little shy of absolute brilliance (there are parts where the action and story lagged) but oh my, it was still wonderful. He and his brother, Jonathan Nolan are master storytellers. They really should teach classes on balancing character development with edge-of-your-seat action (the guys behind Transformers could learn a lot)!
The movie picks up 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Dent (complete with ‘Harvey Dent Day’), has been celebrated as the hero that cleaned up Gotham City. But while the citizens of Gotham have lived in peace, the two principal players behind the conspiracy, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) and Police Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) have been left as broken individuals. Wayne has been living as a recluse and so, Batman has also disappeared, while Jim Gordon’s family has left him and he is considered by many in the police force to be past his use-by date. But soon, both men are called upon to deal with a new, and very nasty threat.
That threat is Bane, a mercenary/terrorist whose introduction to the audience – via a daring mid-air ‘kidnap/rescue’ – is nothing short of spectacular. I dare say I would love to know how they pulled off that action sequence! Bane is played by Tom Hardy, already established as a talented actor, but whose performance was largely obscured by the monstrosity of a mask that he wears (but I did see a glimpse of that incredible talent in his last few scenes in the film). When pictures of Bane were first released I was worried that he may become too hard to understand. Unfortunately, that fear was realized as there were definite parts in the movie (devastatingly, some of those parts were where he was describing his ultimate motives), I wished for subtitles to understand him! This was one of the strikes against Nolan achieving that ultimate brilliance.
The second strike also has to do with Bane – and by extension, Nolan – namely his ultimate goal of inciting a revolution to ‘give power back to the people.’ I know what Nolan was reaching for – he wanted to bring our attention to our changed world. A world where economic upheaval has further driven apart the haves and have-nots, and where we live in a constant state of distrust, not only of our government, but of each other. We live perpetually anxious of the ‘trigger-man’, or as they are called nowadays, the ‘terrorist’, among us. When Bane finally revealed his motive, I was left confused. Up until that point, I thought Gotham was happy! Had I missed something?? So, from then on, his subsequent pontifications didn’t sit right with me. To me, not enough attention was paid to lay down the foundation to illustrate this so-called unrest in the citizens of Gotham.
Fortunately for Christopher Nolan, there was no strike three. Instead, there was a homerun – in the form of his brilliant cast. Let me make my way up to the top.
Firstly, the wonderful Michael Caine as faithful butler, Alfred. In this third film, he is more conflicted about Bruce’s choices than ever, and he had me in tears most of the time as his fear for Bruce grows more desperate, driving him to make a heartbreaking decision. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, head of Wayne Enterprises, is as stately and trustworthy as ever. Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, gives an impressive lesson on the less-is-more technique of acting. Never losing his stride, he plays a man who has lost everything that matters to him, but still fights with all he has left just because his integrity won’t let him do otherwise.
Three newcomers join the cast in this third film. Rich, enigmatic and beautiful philanthropist, Miranda Tate, played by Marion Cotilliard. Sassy, sexy and stunning ass-kicker, high society burglar, Selina Kyle/Catwoman (though she was never referred to as Catwoman in the film), believably portrayed by Anne Hathaway. There was no trace of her sweet-as-pie character past in this movie! Then there was Joseph-Gordon Levitt. He has steadily built up a career full of impressive performances and unforgettable characters, and his street-cop-turned-detective-turned-Batman-ally, John Blake is no exception. He was introduced to us as just another cop, but he quickly turned that impression around – witness his first meeting with Bruce Wayne when his earnest attitude gave way and revealed the steel underneath. Steel that will serve him well in his ultimate destiny unveiled at the end of the film.
But this movie is about Batman. About Christian Bale whose recognized reputation for giving up a lot of himself to his performances, is reminiscent of the character that he’s lived with for the last 7 years. In this movie, we see the result of Batman’s sacrifice in the last film. The Batman is vilified and Bruce Wayne has lost control not only of his life, but of his corporation as well. Even a humorous little scene in which a doctor gives Bruce a litany of his injuries discovered in his x-rays, reveal the cost of being the Batman. Then along comes Bane. Their fight scenes were brutal and at one point, horribly one-sided. He brings Batman to a place he’s never had to go before and even we, the audience, weren’t sure he can come back from. Bale has been incredible as the Batman and he’s proven it here a thousand times over. He brought Batman full circle, dealing with, and coming to terms with the pain that has shaped his life. And is doing so, finally did what Alfred has been begging him to do…move on.
‘The Dark Knight Rises’…not quite five stars but oh so very close! This third film brings to a close a chapter where Christopher Nolan and co, redefined what a comic book movie can be. Where to from here? What if….Christopher Nolan + ‘The Avengers’? YES PLEASE!!
Photos source: ComingSoon