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The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

What She said:

She

I saw this movie three days ago, but it’s taken me this long just to begin to gather my thoughts on whether or not I liked it.  Let’s put aside the fact that I was a bit nervous to go watch it—there had been the shootings, which soured me to the notion, and then there was the burden of knowing the movie would be nearly three hours long (start withholding fluids at least 4 hours in advance).  Add to that my blasé attitude toward all things Anne Hathaway, and I wasn’t as excited as I could have been. 

When it comes to loud noises, dark imagery, and depressing political themes, The Dark Knight Rises does not disappoint.  It’s a stark contrast to The Avengers, which, while also a comic-book based superhero movie, never seemed to take itself too seriously.  The Dark Knight Rises will leave you asking, “Why so serious???”  Gotham City is darker, colder, and a greater downer than ever before, and you’ll feel it from start to finish in this movie.  Seriously, it makes the Tim Burton incarnations seem cheerful.

Let me take you through the basics of the plot.  It’s eight years after the The Dark Knight, and Batman has taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s death.  A severely beaten up Bruce Wayne has gone into hiding and Batman hasn’t existed for all this time.  The city seems to be functioning pretty well—crime is down—aside from that they continue to put Dent on a pedestal and can’t seem to move past his demise.  Commissioner Gordon has kept the truth secret all this time.  But, as we know, things can’t stay nice in Gotham for that long, and soon a ridiculously large and muscular mercenary killer, Bane, storms the scene.  First, he and his cronies ambush the stock exchange and render Bruce Wayne bankrupt.  Then he manages to get his hands on an extra special piece of green energy technology developed by Wayne and turns it into a nuclear bomb, which is volatile and promises to detonate in exactly five months.  I know what you’re thinking.  Why doesn’t everyone just leave Gotham then?  Well, for one thing, they seem pretty supportive of Bane, who represents the little people rising up against the extremely wealthy (aka the 1 percent).  But beyond that, Bane has told them that there’s a random citizen who holds a remote detonator and will set off the bomb if anyone wanders off.  Scary stuff.

The Dark Knight Rises

Bruce Wayne/Batman is nearly helpless.  Initially, he tries to take on Bane himself, but the guy is too big and kicks his butt hard.  He then banishes Wayne to some foreign prison where the captives must climb this impossible rock wall to reach their freedom.  Only one other person has ever done it, a child (there’s more to it than this, I promise you).  Commissioner Gordon has been injured and spends much of the movie in a hospital bed, so he’s no help.  And Bane has managed to trap nearly the entire Gotham police force underground, where they are completely useless.  With Batman gone, Gordon in a hospital, young police officer John Blake one of the few left who is capable and gives a darn, and a nuclear bomb set to wipe everyone out, can and will the city survive?

Phewww….what a plot.  And let me just tell you, I dumbed it down, big time.  There’s so much more to it.  I didn’t even mention The Cat (Catwoman), who is a jewelry thief that enters the picture at various times.  Ok, just thinking about the plot of The Dark Knight Rises is exhausting.  But, it’s a long movie that really packs it in there, so one up point is that the movie doesn’t feel as long as it could.  Now to my gripes.

  • The character of Bane was all muscles and not that much substance.  By comparison to the amazingly portrayed Joker from the previous movie he is a disappointment.  Is he kind of scary?   Yes.  But the Joker was even more chilling and fascinating to watch.  Also, I found Bane’s voice to be laughable. What a post-production sound editing nightmare.  It’s so distractingly bad.
  • I understand the point of a dark movie—showing the realities of our messed up world—

but The Dark Knight Rises offers very little hope.  There’s a couple of weak jokes in there, but you kind of feel guilty cracking a half smile.  Everyone is so miserable.  I actually found Anne Hathaway to be a bit refreshing, because her character’s style added a bit of sass to what was otherwise a somewhat bland reality.

  • This movie makes Commissioner Gordon seem powerless and weak.  His character, along with Alfred and Lucius Fox are relegated to sideshow status, popping up sporadically to offer a line or two before disappearing for long periods of time.  Wasteful use of strong characters.
  • This is the first Batman movie where I felt the drama was overdone.  It actually bordered on cheesy at times.  Things were so dark and high-stakes that you could cut the tension with a knife.
  • I refuse to believe that so many people would go along with a guy like Bane, and that the government would so outwardly fear him.  Actually, the biggest joke in this movie was the police force.  Bane and the movie make them seem like a bunch of incompetent idiots.  I’m actually embarrassed for them.

Now to the pluses.  I found the movie interesting.  Christopher Nolen also did his best to tie things up for the series, although many will not be happy about how things end (I’m not saying).  Batman now has a pretty cool helicopter thing, which is fun to watch zip around.  There is a fabulous appearance by a character from the previous movies that I’ve come to really enjoy.  As soon as he popped up, I knew everything was going to be ok.  I actually wished there was more of him in this flick.

As you can see, I have more gripes than compliments for The Dark Knight Rises, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the movie.  I also can’t say that it didn’t live up to my expectations.  I wasn’t under the illusion that it would be better than or even as good as The Dark Knight or Batman Begins.  I was generally satisfied with how things ended, and by the fact that I managed to make it through the film without having to take a potty break.  I’ll probably buy it when it’s out on Blu-ray, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it at home a whole lot.

Thumbs about 75 percent up.

What he said:

He

There are very few things I enjoy more than sitting down and disappearing into a good movie or TV show. It’s a simple and inexpensive way of experiencing a little escapism. It allows me to go to places I’ll never see or watch types of people I’ll never meet. It is truly an enjoyable experience for me. So, it saddens me that something that is entertaining as going to the movies can be used as a method of carrying out actions as horrible as those in Colorado recently. There’s not a lot any of us can do or say about it now other than offer our condolences and support – even if it’s just emotional – to those affected by the situation. And for God’s sake if you know anyone or see something that seems even slightly suspicious tell someone; better to be safe than sorry.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has stopped being Batman after taking the fall for a crime he did not commit. In that time he has aged quite poorly – as a result of the physical toll of being Batman took on his body – and become a hermit too. Aside from his loyal servant Alfred (Michael Caine), nobody has seen or talked to him in years.

The Dark Knight Rises

Something rare has happened in Gotham City. For the first time in what seems like an eternity, there is peace. No city is without crime, but Gotham hasn’t had an organized crime element or some whacko in a costume trying to run amock in years. After defeating The Joker (RIP Heath Ledger) in the previous movie, Gotham was able to get its act together. As a result of that, the mayor (Richard from LOST) is planning on forcing Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) into early retirement.  Gordon – along with District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Batman – were largely responsible for cleaning up Gotham. He is a no-nonsense cop and now that Gotham’s crime rates are down, the mayor prefers someone a little more malleable.

Little do they all know that trouble is brewing. An international terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) plans to bring his own breed of organized chaos to Gotham. Why tough? What the hell does this guy – who doesn’t even seem to be American let alone from Gotham – want with a city that has nothing to do with him? You might find yourself asking that the majority of the movie, but you will eventually find out (and if you have seen Nolan’s other two Batman movies it’s not the hardest thing in the world to figure out).

Meanwhile, another new face has popped up in Gotham. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is a burglar who seems to march to the beat of her own drum. It’s tough to tell what side she’s on since one minute she’s fighting alongside Batman, the next she’s abandoning him while he’s up to his eyes in trouble.

The last of the new players is officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He’s a good cop who just wants to make a difference. That may sound a little cliché, but it’s hard to hate on a character who seems like a pretty standup guy. Plus, I think Gordon-Levitt has really expanded his range in recent years. As the movie progresses and things begin to heat up, Blake is promoted to detective and actually reports to Commissioner Gordon.

The recent turn of events have forced Batman out of retirement. He intends to find out what Bane wants and how to stop him. Also, just who the hell is Selina Kyle and what is her role in all of this?

I felt that Bane kind of served as a metaphor for how I felt about the whole movie. Hardy’s performance was by no means bad, the character just didn’t’ wow me the way previous villains did. Cillian Murphy’s portrayal as the Scarecrow is a little underappreciated imo. Heath Ledger’s Joker is something that is going to be talked about for years. His performance really was that damn good. But the only downfall it kind of made us forgot just how good Murphy’s performance – and Batman Begins in general – really is.  If The Dark Knight is a great movie, Batman Begins only ranks a hair below it. That brings me back to my original point: Hardy wasn’t bad, he just didn’t measure up to the bad guys in the previous two movies. I will say the one new thing Bane added to the movie was he posed more of a physical threat to Batman than any of his previous threats and watching him be tested in that manner was kind of fun (he really got theshit kicked out of him). The one thing that really bothered me about Bane was his voice; which sounded like it was done post-production.

Anne Hathaway – on the other hand – totally surprised me as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It’s not that I think she’s a bad actress, I just couldn’t picture her  playing a cat burglar with mad fighting skills.  I was very leery of casting her in that role, but I found her to be very entertaining. She added some humor to an otherwise “morally questionable” character and dark movie.

In this movie Bruce Wayne is a beat up guy – emotionally and physically. The toll of being Batman has taken on him is very obvoius and I felt Bale did a wonderful job in portraying that. Bruce Wayne was always a damaged guy. He parents were shot and killed infront of him, how couldn’t he be? But The Dark Knight Rises takes that to another level. He is a broken man and forced to take up the cause for Gotham once again. I enjoyed that new dynamic as well as Bale’s portrayal of that.

The Dark Knight Rises

Right there along with him is his trusty man-servant Alfred. Or is he? When Bruce decides to step out of retirement, Alfred does not approve. He believes Bruce has sacrifced enough for Gotham City and can fight crime in other ways. In other words, he thinks he’s too old, and beat up and doesn’t stand a chance against Bane. He prefers that Wayne offer his resources to the city in an effort to fight this new threat. Wayne’s desire to become the Caped Crusader once again also angers Alfred, because he basically hasn’t left the house in the last 8 years. Being Batman was his life and when he stopped doing that, he stopped living. He was already upset with Wayne for not making time for himself, the fact that he plans to become Batman again is the straw the broke the camel’s back.

The interactions between these two was the strongest part of the movie imo. The evolution of the relationship was a logical one and I really felt the bond between the two characters felt genuine. Michael Caine has always offered a strong presence in these films, but I really appreciated him in this final chapter.

I agree with my counterpart on Morgan Freeman though. He was definitely underutilized. He just kind of throws in a smile or two and maybe a one-liner and that was about it. That was a little disappointing considering how important of a part he played in the previous movies.

I did enjoy Gary Oldman’s performance though. He was kind of non-factor for a while, but once he got going, I felt he gave Commissioner Gordon the portratyal he deserved. Much like Batman, Gordon has given a lot to the city and it has taken a toll him him.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, but I ended up liking him. There were a few things about the character I was a littie puzzled by, but once I thought about it I ended up appreciating him.

Marian Coltiard’s character was borderline pointless. I shouldn’t say that, because I know exactly what purpose her character served. It just didn’t play out all that great imo. It wasn’t a particularly bad performance, it just didn’t feel fleshed out enough or particularly believable at times.

Here’s the thing about this movie. It’s not a bad movie. There’s nothing about it that I really strongly disliked. There are even parts of it that I definitely enjoyed. But compared to the other two chapters, it did feel like a little bit of a drop in quality. There were a few moments where I felt genuine horror over the chaos Bane brought to Gotham City, but I needed more of it. I needed more tension and drama. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t feel it, I just know that I didn’t because the parts where I did made me feel drastically different than the moments where I didn’t (but was supposed to). It was also a little predictable at times. I felt like I was a rehash of parts of both of the previous movies; though I will also say I appreciated the connection to previous movies at times too (loved the one cameo). It could have benefitted from a little tweaking, but overally was a decent final chapter to Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

Random trivia tidbit: There was not 1, not 2, but 3 LOST alumni in The Dark Knight Rises.

This movie review was written on July 24, 2012.