Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Movie Review


Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Modine, Nestor Carbonell, Ben Mendelsohn, Aiden Gillen, Juno Temple and Tom Conti.
Directed by Christopher Nolan.

★★★½

My wife and I saw this on a Saturday.  The theater's newly-hired security company was prominent and visible.  Signs said they reserved the right to search any bags or purses.  I asked a security a few questions about how many guys they had on site or how many theaters his company had been hired for, but he didn't know.  I appreciated the visibility on the night after the Aurora shooting, but if this is the new normal, I'm going to resent it.

The first four previews (The Watch, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, The Expendables 2) had copious amounts of gunfire in each.  Then we got The Campaign, The Hobbit and Man of Steel.

I'll say that Batman Begins / The Dark Knight are the best 1-2 superhero movies ever made (with all due respect to Donner's Superman I & II), and so I had high expectations for this, and at the same time, I tried muting them to not be disappointed.

It's been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight.  Eight years since Harvey Dent died and Batman took the blame.  Batman's retired, and crime is down in Gotham thanks to The Dent Act, which made it easier for cops to catch criminals.  Bruce Wayne himself is becoming more withdrawn and reclusive, to the point where people wonder if he's deformed.

Meanwhile a new evil is on its way to Gotham.  Bane.  He's a mercenary with an unknown past.  He wears a mask that garbles his voice.  It's a cross between Sean Connery and James Mason by way of General Grievous.  I'd heard he was hard to understand so I'd focus whenever he spoke.  I caught 90% of his lines, but it shouldn't be something I have to think about.

Also slinking around is cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), and she was my biggest question mark going in, and I can say she was great.  Michelle Pfeiffer will always be in my heart, but Hathaway has the playful sensuality, the physicality, and the depth needed when Catwoman's trying to figure out just whose side she's on.

But wait, there's more.  We also have Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young cop who keeps wondering when the Batman might return.  He plays into the film's events as much as anyone else.

It's difficult to get much more into the plot without giving away key twists, but suffice to say it's 160 minutes long, and the time flies.  Every scene cuts to the next, and there's not a line of dialogue wasted.  It's densely plotted, but I was never lost.

It's not as "fun" as TDK.  It doesn't have that energetic villain like Heath Ledger's Joker.  How could it?  Bane was a daring choice.  He matches Batman's mind and strength.  Most villains Batman can just beat up, but he can't do that with Bane.  Really wish the voice had been effortless to listen to.

The movie does feel like the final chapter in a trilogy, and the events of the first two movies culminate here.  It's all one story, all part of Christopher Nolan's vision.  I'm glad I saw it; I loved the experience; I can't say this is one where I'll be watching it over and over.

3 comments:

Scott said...

So what would you say to someone who really disliked the last one, and isn't a fan of the genre generally, but has to go with his work group on Tuesday?

John English said...

I'd say in general you're screwed, but I've read a few people who said they liked it more than the second one.

Scott said...

Bane reminded me most of Shredder from TMNT.