Opening 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises opens with an optimistic Gotham city enacting the Harvey Dent act that has made the city more secure. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Batman haven’t been seen in those 8 years. There was no need for them. It is then that a masked man named Bane (Tom Hardy) kidnaps a Russian scientist from a CIA extraction operation and kills everyone on board of the plane so the wheels of his plans start spinning. Bane wants to bring Gotham its reckoning. He wants to break the city that has sunk so low in decadence.
In the meantime, Wayne enterprises is no longer making profit because of a very ambitious and expensive environmental-friendly project. There’s also a new player in town: Selina Kyle (Ann Hathaway), a very cunning jewel thief, who’s seeking a way to absolve her past. And as events progress, Gotham and its people sink into despair as a false sense of justice is set in. And as Bane rises, the necessity for the Batman rises as well. But will he be able to match Bane? Or will the Bat break, taking with him any hope Gotham city might have?
Simply put, The Dark Knight Rises is a very slow movie to start. And at an almost three hours running time, that’s a lot of time for it to get going. The sad part is when it gets going, it doesn’t capture the epic feel of its predecessor. It doesn’t come close to the sense of urgency that The Dark Knight entailed. It doesn’t come close to the sense of dread, fear and danger that the Joker was able to put in us – even though Bane’s plan was more dangerous.
Tom Hardy does a good job at portraying the masked villain. He is ruthless, powerful, dominating and frightening. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and the Batman does his best portrayal of the character in all three movies of the trilogy. His characters are weakened, losing hope, wanting to feel strong again and wanting to save the city they love. He manages to convey all those opposing emotions very well.
Marion Cotillard, as Melinda Tate, a board member of Wayne Enterprise, manages to hold her own but her character is so underdeveloped that her entire presence feels underwhelming. She doesn’t manage to do what she does best and that is steal the show whenever she’s on screen. On the other hand, Michael Cain as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler, and despite the little screen time that he gets is great as the man who wants to keep the boy he raised safe, out of harm’s way, and most importantly alive.
However, the most interesting cast choice was actually Ann Hathaway. She was absolutely brilliant as Selina Kyle and was probably the most fun to watch. She is terrifying, fun, quirky, powerful, afraid, vulnerable, strong…. And she manages to bring forth empathy in the viewer despite her many flaws. She’s fits into the tone Nolan set for the movie perfectly and betters it.
Gary Oldman returns as commissioner Gordon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as John Blake, with an interesting middle name, a new addition to the police squad and a firm believer in the Batman. Morgan Freeman returns as Fox, the genius behind all the Bat techs. There are also many other characters from the previous Batman movies that will make an appearance as well. The purpose of The Dark Knight Rises is to bring things full circle.
However, instead of bringing things to a closure with a bang, The Dark Knight Rises fizzles away and ends the epic trilogy with a thud. Perhaps I expected more from the movie. Perhaps its only purpose was to bring the Bruce Wayne story arc to its emotional end. But with the long running time and the employment of so many different story lines that don’t go at odds with each other, the stage was set for The Dark Knight Rises to be much more.
The movie boasts brilliant special effects to the backdrop of a masterful score by Hans Zimmer, the best of which is Rise which plays at the movie’s last scene. But even with all of those epic components, The Dark Knight Rises falls short. It is definitely a good movie by all measures – perhaps even better than good. But the standards set forth by both of its predecessors and by Nolan’s previous works as well set the bar way too high and it seems Nolan has faltered and fallen short.
Should you watch it? Definitely. You will more than enjoy it. You will get goosebumps and you will get emotional. But you won’t go out of the movie theatre shocked like you were with The Dark Knight and you won’t go out of the theatre raving about the brilliant movie you just watched. One thing to be grateful for, however, is Nolan breaking the boundaries of comic book-based movies and delivering an Oscar-worthy trilogy that will never see any golden statuettes.
Rise, Nolan. Rise.