I’ll likely remain in the minority here, so let’s just get it out in the open first thing: I thought The Dark Knight Rises was a better overall film than its predecessor The Dark Knight. That’s not a diss to the second film; I thought it was good, just not the return of the cinematic messiah. That said, Rises is not perfect either, but I was able to dig it more and appreciated the thematic callback to Batman Begins. This third chapter is a bit jumbled at times but for all intents and purposes definitely closes out Nolan’s trilogy.
I’ll do my best to keep things spoiler-free, so bear with me if I don’t delve as deeply as usual. Fast-forward eight years from the events of The Dark Knight. Batman has been retired and Bruce Wayne now hobbles around with the assistance of a cane, the result of years of bodily harm stemming from vigilante justice. Enter Selina Kyle who only later in the film adopts the Catwoman moniker. At her most basic level, she is yes, a burglar who quickly graduates to increasingly complex identity theft for Daggett (John in this case, sadly not Roland…) a corrupt member of Wayne Enterprises Board of Directors. She later gets mixed up with a mercenary named Bane who was once a member of the League of Shadows. Bane provides audiences (or at least me) with something I’ve yearned to see since, well, forever: a physical match. Whereas Nolan either depended on shadows and unclear editing for the fight sequences in the previous two films, here he finally delivers the goods showing Batman and Bane slug it out. You feel ever punch, elbow and body slam as the two brawl and Nolan lets the camera relax for a change. Seeing their fight sequences only highlights how sorely missed it was in The Dark Knight. Yes Ledger did some of his finest work there, but Bale easily had 60 lbs on him and their final scene together was anticlimactic (to put it nicely) and left me a little cold. Much of the same can be said for the vehicular portions of that film. Either Nolan naturally evolved to this point or took the criticisms seriously and addressed them.
Where the previous two films strived for varying degrees of existing in the ‘real world’, Rises had a more comic-based vibe to it, allowing those elements to breathe better here. The plot is a bit more outlandish, but still conveys a sense of plausibility as Nolan incorporates 9/11 sensibilities to the film’s benefit. Rises clocks in a staggering 164 minutes and doesn’t begin to drag until the last hour or so after Bane takes Gotham hostage. The main criticism I walked away with had to do with the timeframe that Gotham is under Bane’s law as the nuclear reactor’s timer counted down. This portion could have easily been trimmed in such a way that would have only benefited the scope of the film. While what was presented was riveting, the pacing would have flowed more smoothly had the siege period covered a shorter span of time. But enough, welcome to the only movie that will give The Avengers a run for their money this year.
Final Grade: A-
TRR Movie Review by Jacob Aquino