anne hathaway, bane, batman, bruce wayne, catwoman, christian bale, christopher nolan, danny devito, gary oldman, gotham, harvey dent, marion cotillard, michael cane, michelle pfieffer, morgan freeman, the dark knight rises, the penguin, tim burton, wally pfister
Grade: B+ (RENT IT)
in memory of the victims of the Century 16 tragedy in Aurora, Colorado
THE PROBLEM WITH “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan’s final chapter to the superb series he rebooted in 2005, is that its titular Knight fails to rise at all, or at least, it takes two full hours for the caped crusader to land on his feet. The fact that Master Wayne (Christian Bale) spends most of the movie in bed is just one of the puzzles at the heart of this inert ending. Never has an superhero film felt so atrophied by a listless and lifeless lead, all its action postponed until the final thirty minutes, which is too little, too late.
At a staggeringly long 164 minutes – you’ll feel every sluggish minute of the first hour – Nolan seems intent on draining, bat-like, the life out of Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego. Why end the popular series this way? Its starter, “Batman Begins,” was devoted to Wayne’s gradual evolution from a Gotham orphan into a Bhutanese ninja, but here, for some odd reason, Nolan appears intent on rolling back the clock to return us to those early days of self-doubt, followed by gradual self-actualization. “The Dark Knight Rises” should have gone out with a bang, with Batman/Bruce Wayne at the top of his powers. Instead, we’re given a bat in need of a blood transfusion.
Cinematographer Wally Pfister dims the lights low to match a mirthless script by Nolan and his brother Jonathan. “The Dark Knight Rises” not only leaves a sour aftertaste, but the nostalgic wish to return to the campy antics of Tim Burton’s finer “Batman Returns,” now twenty years old. Remember the waddle of DeVito’s Penguin and the cattiness of Michelle Pfieffer’s Selina Kyle? You won’t find any of that fun here despite an ensemble of A-list actors: Michael Cane as the faithful Alfred, Gary Oldman as commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Bruce’s prop-man, the ravishing Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a philanthropist and executive at Wayne Enterprises. The two stand-outs are Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a do-gooder policeman, John Blake, and the only breath of fresh air in this gloomy spectacle: Anne Hathaway as cat-burglar Selina Kyle. But why gesture, at the end, toward Blake’s future identity if Nolan plans to end it there?
It’s eight years after “The Dark Knight” and having taken the blame for the death of Harvey Dent, Batman has retired his rubber suit. A new threat menaces Gotham, however, and demands that Batman once again take flight though, here, he is slow, very slow, to heed the call. As the arch-nemesis Bane, Tom Hardy wears a pressurized dog-muzzle and sounds, laughably, like a cross between the Swedish chef and Darth Vader. The film’s most exciting sequence, which may correct your slouching sleepily in your seat, is his terrorist attack on a football stadium, but even that spectacular assault is followed by Bane’s muted address to the terrified sports-goers. I couldn’t help but identify with Bane’s audience at that moment: trapped, they appear more bewildered than enthralled.
Not for nothing, the constant threat that Bane poses to Gotham City is a network of bombs ready to detonate. Whether you catch it in Imax or 35-millimeter, “The Dark Knight Rises,” a misnomer of epic proportions, is set on that shaky ground: it’s a bomb that never goes off. More accurately, it’s the shell of a bomb that can’t find its fuse.
Fogs' Movie Reviews said:
“Instead, we’re given a vigilante in need of Viagra.”
HA! THAT’S funny stuff right there CC! LOL. heh.
It is as you say: Long, un-fun, and at times laughable. Including Bane, who DOES sound like Connery wearing the Vader mask 😀 I still graded it out higher just because some of the character stuff works (Alfred and Cat Woman are good), the production values are unmatched, and it does conclude the trilogy, so it carries in a lot of pre-existing good will.
I wonder if the trilogy would have been half as successful if this had been the first chapter instead of the last.
An interesting idea, and glad you too enjoyed Hathaway and Caine, and I think, G-Levitt! All provided some much needed smiling and levity. Why so serious?!?
Fogs' Movie Reviews said:
Why so serious?!?
LOL WELL said. That’s very good.
Yeah, JGL was great as usual, but I thought his plot line was one that could have been trimmed some…
Nolan was clearly bored with the title character and apparently Bale was bored with him as well; it showed.
Tommy D said:
You’re right in that we didn’t see as much of Batman as we could have, but I he DOES rise — literally and figuratively (like when he climbs out of the pit). I also thought Hardy — a rising star in his own right — did a fine job as Bane.
Good point though I felt we were down in the well forever! Tom Hardy, from the god-awful THIS MEANS WAR. We’ll see what else he’s got up his (bare) sleeve! Thanks for reading!
Tommy D said:
This Means War is the exception. Let’s not forget Hardy has been in Bronson, Inception, Warrior, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Will investigate! TDKR was definitely an INCEPTION reunion sans LeoD!
Nice write up Colin. If you told me before I saw this film that the highlight was going to be watching Hathaway as Catwoman I would have said you were crazy.
I wasn’t sold on Bane either, yeah hes an angry, ripped up dude with a mask…. and…..
I also am pretty shocked to say that I am glad Nolan is done with Batman as this film was meh at best.
Meh! Ha. Thanks for reading. Hathaway is sold, consistent. Bane was a bore. Why not a Penguin-retool given Ledger’s soon-to-be-iconic take on The Joker?
why not the Penguin they are already re-using the hanging out in the sewer bit.
I respectfully disagree with a lot of what you wrote. There was a lot to fit in the film and i think they did a great job. You must be familiar with not only the first two Nolan films, but also the Batman mythos for a complete experience. Multiple viewing also helps as ive seen it three times already. I came in expecting grit and war, and it delivered in spades. I had no problem hearing Bane. I thought Hathaway was great as Selina Kyle and Bale was better than ever. People have problems with the long gaps without Batman, but dont realize that Bruce is Batman with or without the mask. So the absence of the cowl doesnt bother me. This film leaves no stone unturned from the first two and goes out with the “bang” that every protagonist in the series wanted. IMO the best film trilogy ever.
Glad it succeeds for you; I do think it’s worth rewatching, but it was an odd angle to take on the iconic superhero, flat rather than fast and furious. Write on!
I also thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt was one of the stand-outs, and I also was impressed with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I wasn’t sure she could pull it off, but she did.
Yeah, she brought some much-needed energy to the performances! I’m hesitant however about her upcoming singing role in Les Miz, the film. We shall see!
Les Miz is one of my favorite musicals, and I’m so excited they’re doing a film version. I hope it’s good!
We’ll see who remains the “master of the house”: Broadway or Hollywood, but it’s usually the former!
Wow Colin for the first time since reading your blog we disagree 100% but as always I respect and enjoy different takes. In the Dark Knight Rises where you find boredom with the explanations I found thrroughness and deep angst. Michael Caine’s Alfred was superb, a father figure showing tough love. Levitt was great and the least we say the better lest we spoil it.
I waited for your next review fearing you travelled to the Century and was at the cinema. My heart goes out to them.
Well I’m glad great minds think alike! I realize I’m in the minority here, but nihilism hardly qualifies as a fun night out! I also think my impression of this film was colored by the tragedy in Colorado. So, to show up, and be confronted with more guns-to-the-head and despair, was hardly what I wanted from a summer blockbuster. Time, perhaps, for Nolan to turn back to drama, where his real talents lie. Thanks for the concern, too; Breckenridge is miles away and up from Aurora; thinking of them today, too.
I LOVED IT!
I was lucky enough to see TDKR with an enthusiastic, sold-out crowd that put in almost 9 hours of viewing time for the Dark Knight Trilogy and it was AWESOME! We all applauded and cheered at the end (I got goosebumps!).
I believe it was the best way to do it…this is ONE story broken into 3 parts and watching them back to back help to increase my investment and emotional connection to the characters and story. Nolan is brilliant!
(Check out my review for my full opinion.)
Interesting to see such differences–but I still think it will hold up as one of the Best Trilogies in film history.
Wow, well-put! I watched the first two at home; I was particularly struck by the ultra-violence of TDK and wished there had been some malevolent sense of humor, as embodied by Ledger’s Joker, in the third, which was disappointing with its dog-mask villain and ridiculous voice. But I must confess I will be (re)watching TDKR at home soon…
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Logan Burd said:
I’ll agree up until when you said that the movie lags. It’s not nearly as exciting throughout as The Dark Knight, but I never felt genuinely bored at any point. Disappointed maybe, but not bored. Expectations were set too high, I suppose. Check out my review and let me know what you think!
Hyped, indeed and sadly tainted by the movie massacre. It will take some time for this film to regain some speed/esteem. Thanks for reading!
Tom Austin-Morgan said:
I always enjoy reading your reviews and our opinions do differ at times, but I have to disagree with your rental only verdict.
I’m seeing it again tomorrow night, hoping to be able to catch a few more deatils than I did last time. Batman is a dark character and has deserved this dark ending, he is an outsider after all. When the first of the four endings came I wasn’t sure about it, but I actually thought “I’ll go with it, it’s his only way out.” But I really enjoyed Michael Caine’s final reaction and thought the film should have ended there.
Hathaway and Caine were brilliant and Gordon-Levitt just gets better in every film…but I was hoping for a different name than the one he gives at the end of the film. I’d imagine that ending was to keep it open in case the studio wanted to make a further sequel with or without Nolan.
Nothing could live up to The Dark Knight, but then this is the film where BAtman comes out of retirement after years to take on one last challenge. Very close to the comics. Films are subjective and I respect all opinions, but I liked it! 🙂
Thanks for this; it deserves a rewatch and even perhaps a re-review on my part. The truth is that the shootings really cast a pall over my experience in addition to my own actual movie-going experience. I still don’t see, however, why Batman was in bed for the first 3/4ths of the film. Lame, I thought.
Tom Austin-Morgan said:
It was something to do with him destroying his body in the first two films, I think. But it was an awfully long time before he got back in the suit. But I think it was meant to bring some suspense and highlight his slightly tortured/fractured frame of mind coming into this film.
I’ve heard a lot about American movie-goers staying away from the theatres, and the shooting was a horrific tragedy. Here in the U.K. people are a little perturbed, but nowhere near as much. It is something that I found playing on my mind in the first 20 minutes, but it was more out of respect for the victims rather than fear.
It’ll be interesting to see what we both think on a re-watch.
This is a good read on the action (or lack thereof). Thanks for this. I guess that’s it for the blockbuster caped crusader movies for summer 2012…BATMAN was certainly superior to the dull SPIDERMAN.