Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy
Have I Seen it Before: Sure.
Did I Like It: Look it’s a Batman movie that doesn’t rely on certain characters mother’s being named Martha. What’s not to like? I’ll tell you.
I ultimately don’t think Nolan had a plan going into this one. Maybe he didn’t really want to make a third film in his series, but he really really didn’t want to make any more movies, so he scrambled for a rousing conclusion. It forges together some of the bigger Batman comic plot lines that weren’t covered by Nolan’s two previous movies, Knightfall, No Man’s Land, and The Dark Knight Returns, but the blending doesn’t quite come together. It all fits together not as smoothly as it did in the previous entry, 2008’s The Dark Knight. In the attempt, to many plot lines rise to the top.
Too many plots. How did Bruce Wayne get back into Gotham after escaping Bane’s prison, especially when it is well-established that he’s broke by this point in the movie? And where and with whom is Miranda Tate/Talia al Ghul at various points in the third act?
While people moan and wail about the deep, unforgiving chasm that separates Bale's Batman voice from his Bruce Wayne voice, he seems utterly restrained* when compared with the Sean Connery and Darth Vader forged in a blender that is Bane (Hardy). Several years have separated this particular screening from its premiere, but the first moment he speaks on that airplane, it’s one of the most bizarre sounding things that has ever been committed to film, compounded by the deep realization that Bane’s words clearly were modified deep into postproduction, as he didn’t sound quite so ridiculous in the early trailers for the film released in 2011 and 2012.
Speaking of that airplane sequence, let’s get into what absolutely, unassailably works about the movie. The stunt work is legit. Nolan—although he couldn’t possibly have had the screenplay he hoped for—is one of the last great filmmakers working in studio films these days. I can’t imagine that there is not a single frame of
Also, where Bane leaves one wanting, Anne Hathaway never fails to impress as Selina Kyle/Cat Burglar who is never explicitly referred to as Catwoman. The role has had so many distinct portrayals over the years, but Hathaway manages to tap into a realistic cat burglar vibe, while also embracing the soul of the character. As it’s always a little bit shocking how strange of a creation Bane is, it’s equally impressive how good she is, when there was plenty of room to be mediocre.
One might be tempted to be more forgiving of the film, viewing it through the same prism as Return of the Jedi (1983) or The Search for Spock (1984), thinking it suffers only because it follows the best-ever movie in the series. Tragically, while there are some things to truly like, and by no means do I think Christopher Nolan’s reputation as a shaper of popular entertainments will have ended up suffering because of it, The Dark Knight Rises ultimately has too many glaring flaws to work on it’s own account.
And I might feel pretty bad about that, but somewhere lurking in the future of this franchise is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which accomplished the herculean task of making even Joel Schumacher look like Akira Kurosawa.
*Except of course when he’s talking to himself on a rooftop after Selina Kyle departs. I don’t know who he thinks he’s doing that for, but it certainly isn’t part of maintaining his secret identity.