Movie Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, July 20, 2012 at 8:00 am.

(Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros Pictures)

Summary: Same old plot, villains are hell-bent on destroying the great Gotham City and Batman must save the day. This time around, Batman is in hiding since the death of Harvey Dent. But after financial ruin and the rise of a new villain, Bane, the Caped Crusader is inspired to make another attempt at saving the day.

Review: The Dark Knight Rises is not one of the most anticipated films of the year — it is the most anticipated film of the year. No matter what critics say (critics should be careful because those who gave mixed or bad reviews are getting death threats), Christopher Nolan’s third and (alleged) final installment of the Batman franchise will be a success, even if it is the weakest film in Nolan’s series.

The Dark Knight back in 2008 was an Oscar-winning, superhero masterpiece (well, at least the scenes with Heath Ledger as the Joker).  Does Nolan feel cinematic pressure to top the sequel?  Maybe that could explain why the Inception director tackled a plethora of issues: depression, greed, childhood trauma, relationships, corruption, revenge and anything else that could be stuffed into a gaudy two hours and forty-five minutes.  Be well-rested because you can fly from New York City to Miami and The Dark Knight Rises will still be rising — the person next to me who was in a deep sleep for at least 20 minutes was a clear indication the film needed serious editing.  No matter how great, there is only but so much time an audience can endure before their interest wanes — even a Broadway show gives you an intermission.  About 90 minutes of the The Dark Knight Rises is near genius, the rest is useless.

What we really look for in the Batman films are the villains. Here, Batman’s main villain is Bane, played by Tom Hardy, whose face is covered in a Mortal Kombat-type mask — between Batman’s husky voice and Bane’s muffled face mask, the film needed subtitles. While Bane was evil, there wasn’t much to the muscle-bound jock. With the Joker or even the Penguin, they delivered a campy psychosis — coupled with incredible acting — which made them likable villains. Bane was not likable or fun to watch, nor were you wowed by his tricky, which is what made the villains in Batman films shine. Quite frankly, Bane was just bland.

We all gave the side-eye when we learned Anne Hathaway would play Catwoman. The Oscar nominee is no Michelle Pfeiffer or Eartha Kitt, but she was the most interesting character. Selina Kyle wasn’t padded with exhaustive back-story and epic chord arrangements, Catwoman stayed true to form. She had the best lines, the most interesting on-screen presence and, when she was off-screen, you were hoping for her return. Hathaway bucked the naysayers.  Dare I say — with the right script, Catwoman deserves another scratch at her own flick.

Then there is Batman. As if he was swept away in a storyline made for an opera, Bruce Wayne is in constant emotional turmoil.  Batman has fallen. Batman has retired.  Batman is broke — it took Bruce Wayne fifty minutes to suck into his bat suit!  Critics are ranting the film is too “dark” due to Batman’s hero complex.  Not me, I love a creepy flick full of grit and grime.  The Dark Knight could’ve went even darker for my taste.  But the hardest blow is not the somber storyline, it’s Nolan’s lofty execution — Dark Knight Rises could’ve been titled Inception: Gotham City Edition.  Nolan’s signature style swallowed the heart of Batman.  At one point, I forgot it was a Batman film, especially when Bruce Wayne was locked away in a lengthy isolation.  To quote Jack Nicholson as the Joker in 1989, “And where is the Batman?”

The most interesting plot-twist is the discourse on the rich versus poor, how the rich should suffer and the 99% must take over.  But commentary on excess and greed is rather ironic considering the budget of The Dark Knight Rises was approximately 250 million. Maybe Occupy Wall Street should Occupy The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises is equally as great as it is below average. For all of its flaws, much of the film is redeemed by the spectacular visuals: An epic scene at a football stadium, a monstrous attack on Gotham and the opener, all of which prove Nolan is a visionary director with substance.

Overall, an endurable two hours and forty-five minutes, but I would never sit through it again — unless I could fast-forward to Catwoman’s scenes.

The Dark Knight Rises is in theaters today.

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