|Posted by Ollons on July 19, 2012 at 1:45 AM|
'The Dark Knight Rises' is the third and final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman series. It truly deserves the labelling "epic", which is a word thrown around too liberally yet for once it is justified. The sheer scale of the movie is larger than the events from its predecessors despite all centering around the fate of Gotham City.
8 years have passed since Harvey "Two Face" Dent's vigilantism and accidental death at the hands of Batman; this brings up the most irritating of the few minor criticisms. The Joker, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, in 'The Dark Knight' was a larger-than-life figure; an archetype of chaos who swept in like a tempest. Without going into the plot of the second Nolan Batman film, the Joker had a massive affect on Gotham and its caped hero, however his presence is utterly absent from this film; it's understandable because of the lingering mourning over Ledger's untimely passing felt by Christopher Nolan as well as his cast and crew, nevertheless it's unfortunate that the Joker is not even mentioned.
Most characters from the film series return: Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), and Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman); also more characters Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), young policeman John Drake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Miranda Tate/SPOILER (Marion Cotillard). The whole cast provide convincing as well as mostly engrossing performances; Gordon appears aged and fatigued which is appropriate. Anne Hathaway is particularly impressive as the cat-(themed)-burglar as she portrays the character's conflicted desires and strength. A nice reemergence is of the brief few scenes that include Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. Scarecrow; while he does not don the thatched mask this time, he fulfils the (purposefully comedic) role of the "judge" for the convict-controlled Gotham City court.
While, like the prior movies, this is a relatively self-contained plot, to completely follow the development of reoccurring characters, one should view the other two films too. Although 'Rises' has far stronger ties to 'Batman Begins', especially the legacy of the League of Shadows; Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) a.k.a. Ra's al Ghul's plan to destroy Gotham City is adopted and altered by Bane. Also, Harvey Dent's actions, especially the kidnapping of Gordon's family, still resonates in Gordon's mind; he is forced to uphold the lie that Batman himself established i.e. accepting the blame for Dent's crimes as to avoid ruining Gotham's perception of him as the "white knight".
As expected, the Joker is a villain beyond comparison (at least in live-action), regardless Bane, portrayed by Tom Hardy, is a brilliant antagonist. Bane's bulky physique and booming voice establish a frightening foil for Batman. Sometimes Bane's oration is slightly difficult to understand, for the most part he is audible. His presence is aptly dominating; the fights with Batman are brutal and incredible. Bane has the same skills as Batman, as well as being completely immune to the latter's use of misdirection and darkness; his brutality and cruelty make him a true challenge to Batman. I cannot go further into all of the character and plot developments due to the risk of exposing of genuine intriguing revelations. The plot, while by no means has anything overtly unique, is delivered in an exceptional manner that gains excitement and interest from the audience.
The action sequences are spectacular: a larger range of carnage; more intense and lengthier fights; great set pieces; and excellent special effects.
The theme of masks is continued in the third plot, also duel and oft intersecting identities. Another theme explored is the consequence of peace. Due to the mob's destruction due to Batman, Gordon, Dent, and surprisingly the Joker too, organised crime has been absent and crime has significantly declined in Gotham for the 8 year interim between the second and third films. This peace lead to complacency amongst some of Gotham's police and most of the City's elite. Possibly drawing a parallel to reality, the upperclass hoarde more and more wealth, leaving the lower classes struggling or destitute. Peace caused the selfish to return to their own monetary increases instead of providing funds to citizens because of the lack of danger from plausible criminal elements.
At 2 hours and 45 minutes, 'Rises' is the longest Batman movie, however it has sufficient and often fast pacing which prevents it from feeling overly long. However, despite its duration, sometimes developments feel slightly rushed; nevertheless, I'm only being nitpicky.
Hans Zimmer returns for the third time to compose the excellent although (quite frankly) occasionally intrusive musical score. To persist the same mood as predecessors, some tracks are reused such as the slow piano composition to assist solemn scenes and Batman's theme to assist a heroic tone. New music emulates and enhances the epic nature of the film: the masculine chanting reflect the might of Bane, his army of fanatical mercenaries, and the convicts that he unleashes upon Gotham; Catwoman's theme is a soft higher pitched piano score which nicely establishes her elegance as well as sounding like the musical equivalent of a kitten's paw steps; the music during the action sequences has a swift tempo which emphasises the hectic events being unfolded.
Overall, a spectacular superhero/comic book-esque action film. It's sad that the grittier comic book movie series is over, but at least it ends phenomenally. It ties the films together: the similarly "absolute justice" themed first and third comfortably containing the chaos of the second. Albeit I'm admittedly biased towards the Joker, therefore Ledger's demise made a third Nolan Batman movie incapable of being "ideal", 'Rises' is a brilliant conclusion to the truly epic and legendary trilogy.
Categories: Let's Get Critical - Movie Reviews by Ollons