I’m just going to say this and get it out into the open so that we have no secrets between us; after my initial viewing, I am not a fan of “The Dark Knight Rises.” I know the biggest reason for my lackluster feelings lie mostly with the height of the pedestal that I’ve placed “The Dark Knight.” It’s been put up high enough that despite my best efforts to keep an open mind to Christopher Nolan’s swan song, the film just couldn’t live up to my hopes and in the end, felt more like the series took a step back rather than forward. I will warn readers that haven’t seen the movie that there will be spoilers ahead, so continue at your own risk.
Spoilers Ahead…You’ve been warned!
As we all know by now, “The Dark Knight Rises” picks up eight years after the death of Harvey Dent and Batman took the fall. With the streets clean and Batman’s work finished, a devastated Bruce Wayne has exiled himself to Wayne Manor, with no idea of the storm that is coming upon Gotham. Bane, a powerful mercenary, has set his sights on pulling the rug from under the powerful citizens of Gotham and starting an uprising. With peace ending in the city, Wayne must once again don his cape and cowl to save Gotham from the brink of destruction, but Bane is unlike any foe the Dark Knight has ever faced.
To be fair I will discuss the many things that this movie got right. Christian Bale is consistent with his portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman and seems to seamlessly step back into Nolan’s world. Anne Hathaway does a superb job of portraying Selina Kyle. She did a masterful job at creating the most realistic version of Catwoman as any of her predecessors. While not as impressive as the late Heath Ledger’s performance, Tom Hardy really does a great job at creating a powerful and frightening character while having most of his face covered by a mask.
Though flawed in parts, the action set pieces were put together quite well. I think one of my favorite parts and the probably the most iconic scene in Batman history is the ‘breaking’ of the bat. I had chills when Bane lifted a weary Batman high in the air and drives his knee into the hero’s back.
I also believe that the final battle between Bane and Batman was enthralling. To see these two adversaries fighting their way through the ensuing battle to meet in a fight to the death was the perfect end to an epic trilogy. Unfortunately, this is where I believe the movie really stumbles and feels too reminiscent of “Batman Begins.”
Moviegoers are ‘surprised’ by the realization that Miranda Tate is Talia Al Ghul, but only because it was something that was completely out of left field. This twist completely undermined the ferocity of Bane. Here is this brilliant, hulking villain and in the end he is once again made into more of a puppet than a puppet master. As humorous as it was to have Selina show up at the last minute and blast Bane, I wanted to see Batman and Bane fight until the end. I felt a little robbed of the finish to the epic duel I was waiting for.
I find it quite humorous that Bane is able to punch through concrete pillars but after kneeing Batman in the back, all Wayne has is a single protruding vertebra. Of course, I find it quite moronic that the magic fix to Wayne’s broken back is a man punching the vertebrae back in place. REALLY?!
While initially excited about a possible cameo from Liam Neeson, I felt his very presence wasn’t vital to anything. It was used as a very shameless plot device for Wayne to realize the connection between Ra’s and Bane – or so he thinks.
I could keep going on but there’s no need to beat a dead horse. Despite how it may appear from my rants above, I did enjoy “The Dark Knight Rises.” It wasn’t the ending that I hoped for but it was a more satisfying ending than say, “Spider-Man 3.” All I can really say is that some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!
Now, it’s time to set my sights on Peter Jackson and the much anticipated, “The Hobbit.”
– Joe Donohue