Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

It's hard to get into without divulging spoilers, but I can say that The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. As a guy who likes to write stories about ordinary people thrown into far-out situations, I admire Nolan's ability to take the fantastical and keep it grounded enough to connect with the average moviegoer. Too often we get summer blockbusters that are all sound and fury, yet signifying nothing -- I'm looking at you Michael Bay.  

After the deaths of Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has been in seclusion for the last eight years. But now a terrorist called Bane (Tom Hardy) has set his sights on Gotham. Can The Batman return to form and take on his most dangerous adversary yet?

Clearly, this is the most ambitious story in the trilogy. Everything is bigger this time around, stakes and obstacles. Bane is more than Batman's equal, physically and intellectually. The consequences of past actions comes back to haunt Gotham City in a big way. This is an old fashioned crime thriller played out on an epic scale -- with a protagonist who likes to dress up like a six-foot bat. Nolan tosses in some ripped-from-the-headlines elements to make the story even more relatable.

With all that said, this is not a perfect film. In fact, there are more things to pick at than the previous films combined. Characters make choices that seem illogical or a case of lazy storytelling just to reach certain plot points, which is highly uncharacteristic of a Chris Nolan film. The ending itself isn't forced, but the script feels like it needed a few more passes. Some critics have argued the film should have been split in two, in order to flesh things out -- not the worse idea I've ever heard...

It would have been impossible to duplicate Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance as the Joker. Thankfully, Tom Hardy doesn't try to go there. Bane is his own uniquely scary entity. And while I had some reservations about the casting of Anne Hathaway, she gives a solid turn as Selina Kyle. Marion Cotillard also gives a memorable turn as Miranda Tate. I've made the argument in the past that female characters have had little to do in Nolan's Dark Knight universe, but this isn't the case here.

All in all, I guess I'm trying to say The Dark Knight Rises is a good film with some great parts, but not on the level of Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up 2-3 years from now. I found an outstanding interview with Nolan about The Dark Knight Rises on a recent podcast of The Treatment. It's only around 30 minutes long, but gives tremendous insightt into his process. In fact, I liked it so much that I rounded up links to other Treatment episodes with Nolan on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

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