Falcone's Crossroads

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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises – 2012, Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight Rises brings Christopher Nolan’s superb Batman trilogy full circle with a strapping and worthy finale.

Tom Hardy plays Bane, an outcast of the League of Shadows vows to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s goal from Batman Begins of destroying Gotham.  Hardy joins a new cast heavily drafted from Nolan’s last offering, Inception, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard, and also “Nolan newbie” Anne Hathaway, who is spectacular as Selina Kyle / Catwoman.

Christian Bale returns as the “Caped Crusader” and delivers possibly his best performance in the trilogy. He joins trilogy mainstays, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman, who are all on top of their game.

The story picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.  Batman has disappeared, Bruce Wayne has become reclusive in dwindling riches, and Gotham is enjoying peace and prosperity in the shadow of fallen hero Harvey Dent.

Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Caine), has been trying to get Wayne back outside his re-built manor to re-engage in life, but it takes an encounter with a certain skilled cat burglar to finally rouse Wayne from his shell (or cave, as it were).  What Wayne finds is a city whose peacetime is rapidly nearing an end at the hands of the hulking sociopath Bane.

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert said the film “tests the weight a superhero movie can bear,” and I do agree with him on that. However, I disagree with him on several other critical points.  Ebert questions the clarity of the plot and the motives of the villains, while I think Nolan conveys all that pretty well, though without spoon-feeding his audience.

My primary criticism with the film is its sound editing, for which its Bat-predecessor ironically won an Oscar in 2008.  Bane’s mask often makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying. His voice (and general presence, in fact) recalls Darth Vader, but I never had trouble understanding Vader. Likewise, Batman’s voice is also difficult to understand at times.

The film also plods along very deliberately (i.e., some might say “boring-ish”) through the first half of its nearly three hour sprawl, as it readies itself for a highly adrenalized and unforgettable second act.

The film’s greatest weakness is that it had to follow up Nolan’s last two films, The Dark Knight and Inception, two of the most awe-inspiring films ever made.  When I sat down to watch The Dark Knight for the first time, I expected the world and got it. I left wondering what in the world Nolan could do as an encore. Amazingly, Inception met the challenge and left me asking the same question.  In that context, success for The Dark Knight Rises should be defined not by whether it’s the best film of the trilogy but whether it’s a fitting finale.

And that it is.

The Dark Knight Rises score: 4 Falcone Rings

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5 comments on “Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises – 2012, Christopher Nolan

  1. conordcfc
    July 21, 2012

    Brilliant review, I really enjoyed the film and it’d be great if you could read my review! Thanks http://conordcfc.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/film-review-the-dark-knight-rises-2012/

  2. Grande Falcone
    July 21, 2012

    Welcome to the Crossroads conordcfc, and thanks for the kind words! I did check yours out, and I’m glad to see you enjoyed it, as well.

  3. pouringmyartout
    July 23, 2012

    Very nice. Now dress up in some more super hero costumes.

  4. atothewr
    August 19, 2012

    Good review. Though I disagree about the boring part – saw it three times and not once did I feel like it was dragging. In fact the third time might have been the best viewing.

    I actually did several reviews on it, check them out if you want. http://atothewr.com/2012/07/26/the-dark-knight-rises-part-2/

  5. Grande Falcone
    August 19, 2012

    Hey atothewr, welcome to Falcone’s Crossroads, and thanks for your comments! As I mentioned, I hesitate to judge Nolan’s films after a single viewing, which I did in this case (you know, “first to market” and all that). I did see it again and agree with you.

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This entry was posted on July 21, 2012 by in Books & Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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