The Dark Knight Rises: Movie Review
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
July 31, 2012 · Updated 10:14 AM
Editor's Note: This review contains minor spoilers.
The second sequel in a trilogy is always the hardest to pull off.
From Return of the Jedi to Back to the Future Part III, with the third part of a trilogy there are always inherent difficulties and hurdles to overcome, mostly due to the expectations placed on it by the previous two movies, and The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) is no exception.
It didn't help that it not only a second sequel, but the sequel to one of the greatest superhero film ever put to screen, The Dark Knight (TDK). With a fantastic story, action set pieces, philosophical themes and performances, particularly by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, the standards it set made the third movie a daunting task from the start.
TDKR takes placed eight years after the events in TDK, which ended with Harvey Dent's death and a cover-up by Batman and Commissioner James Gordon of crimes he committed as Two-Face. Crime has dropped to a historic low, and it seems as though Gotham is finally enjoying the peace it has long sought.
Destroying this facade of tranquility is Bane (Tom Hardy), whose constant high level of pain requires the use of a mask that provides him with a constant stream of gas to numb it. Through the assistance of corrupt businessmen as well as a mysterious figure whose indeity is revealed at the very end of the film he plans a supposed revolution that will overthrow the "establishment" ruling Gotham and replace it with a communist state where everything is owned by "the people," Soviet-like show trials and all.
At the same time, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is living as a recluse inside of Wayne Manor ala Howard Hughes, unable to move on with his life since the death of Rachael Dawes, with whom he was in love. He brings himself out of seclusion after jewel thief Selina Kyle (Ann Hathaway) proves to be as intelligent and resourceful as he. Within the Gotham Police Department there is John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who, orphaned at young age, seems to be the one person in Gotham who truly understands Bruce Wayne and the pain he hides behind a smile.
Like Ledger's Joker, Hardy's Bane is terrifying, but more in the way a grizzly bear inspires terror than a psychotic. While Bane doesn't quite match same level as the Joker, by making him so different a villain, Nolan helps prevent natural comparison between them. With half of his face covered the entire film, Hardy's performance is done mainly through his eyes, and a great performance it is.
Overall, the acting was excellent, especially Bale, who gives a complete emotional range for Bruce Wayne that few other actors have managed to convey.
In TDKR, the theme is about confronting the truth and whether or not one can accept it, no matter how horrible it is.
By making the large climactic battle between Bane's collection of psychotics and criminals against the GDP, the film doesn't really address the theme of a city forced to confront the ugly truth; the image they have of Harvey Dent, whose death inspired anti-crime legislation and as an individual has been virtually idolized, is a lie.
Had the filmmakers included the citizenry choosing to fight alongside the police, they would have answered that question, as well as affirming Batman's belief that the city of Gotham has good people in it who are worth giving up his life for.
The second area the film suffers, in my opinion, is the ending. So as not to spoil anything, I can only say that it doesn't fit with the direction the trilogy seems to go. It doesn't really offer any surprise twists, and for a character like Batman it's not the sort of conclusion one might expect.
In my opinion, despite being a 60 minute animated film noir, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm still has the most appropriate ending to a Batman film.
Yet, the ending isn't disappointing enough as to hurt the film overall. And to be honest, I give the film slack because of the hype it had to live up to. Had it come before TDK, rather than afterwards, my expectations wouldn't have nearly been as high as they were. I also watched in a lightly-populated theater, compared to the midnight showing of TDK where every seat was taken. The audience you view a movie with definitely impacts how it affects you, something which I took into consideration.
TDKR stands alongside Batman Begins as a great Batman film and an example for other filmmakers of what makes the third film of a trilogy, for the most part, work.
Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.