When I saw Batman Begins in 2005 I never expected it to become a series to be honest. When The Dark Knight hit the big screen, I also did not expect it to be that kind of a monster of a film. Now with The Dark Knight Rises it managed it to keep that level of quality and created a pretty much perfect conclusion to the series.
The latest installment starts eight years after the happenings with the Joker and Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne has pretty much retired from being Batman and his Wayne Enterprises Corporation is on a decline too. Gotham City managed to get crime under control due to the things that happened eight years ago. Suddenly a new evil spawns in form of Bane. A mysterious guy out of nowhere. He got a little and very loyal army behind his back and plans to start havoc in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne decides to get back into the suit. But not without fighting against personal conflicts and demons. In the mean time Bane slowly but surely gains control over Gotham City. Bane is smart enough to fool the Gotham police into a trap which leaves the city pretty much unprotected. In the end Bane controls the whole city and cuts it off the rest of the world. Gotham City under siege… no one gets in and no one gets out. Bane also manages it to beat Batman and sends him into a far away prison. A broken and destroyed Bruce Wayne has to watch how his Gotham fall apart. Seeing that gives him strength to recover. He eventually gets back to Gotham to face Bane, end the siege and save the city one last time.
I saw a couple of reviews over the past few days and I pretty much agree with what they say. This movie is a Bruce Wayne movie. It’s not exactly a Batman movie if we start to break it down. It’s more about Bruce Wayne who is trying to find back into a normal life. The ‘Batman’ alter ego is actually only there to help him find that new life. At the beginning he’s a broken man. They implemented some nice pointers to Howard Hughes – you’ll recognize it if you are familiar with his biography. As soon as Wayne sees that his city is in danger, he decides to do something. It takes him a bit and you can see his inner struggle. For him, and the past eight long years, Batman was dead.
Right at the beginning we also learn to know a lady named Selina Kyle. We early also understand that she’s Catwoman. I had very many doubts about Anne Hathaway playing that character. But she did a fine enough job, I have to admit. In the movie, I feel her introduction, felt a little rushed though. We never know where she learned to steal or fight the way she does. She just knows how to do it. That is one small nitpick on that end. Throughout the movie she will switch back and forth between playing good and playing bad. Nonetheless there are some dialogue sequences that come across rather clunky. Especially between her and Batman.
Another new character is Blake. A young cop who is still ambitious and eager to do and learn new things. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives him some good character and pretty much fits in perfectly. He is the character that builds a bridge between all the super-characters like Commissioner Gordon, Bruce Wayne etc and the normal people on the streets. It’s a very likable character played very well by Gordon-Levitt.
Bane, the bad guy in the movie, is played by Tom Hardy. Even though he’s constantly behind a mask, we can still see that Hardy is trying to give his character as much emotion as possible. Successfully, from my point of view. In english reviews I heard a lot of complaints about the fact, that sometimes it’s hard to understand, what Bane is saying through his mask. I saw the dubbed version in German language. No problems there. The german voice even managed to add an extra portion of depth to the character. I liked that. The portrayal of Bane in the movie comes across very powerful. He does leave an impression. He literally kicks Batman’s ass. And yeah… why doesn’t Batman go straight for the mask to render Bane useless? That’s a point. Since Bane needs the mask to keep himself stable… he would be an easy target without it. A flaw… but forgivable.
We also have the wondeful Marion Cotillard in this movie. Who, I think, is a perfect addition to the whole tone of the movie. She plays Miranda. A not so screen prominent part as Bruce Wayne’s romance. Miranda finds her way into Wayne Enterprises to save the company from falling apart. She also plays her part in the movie’s finale. I really liked her part. On the other hand… I loved all of Marion Cotillard’s work so far. A wonderful actress.
The movie is very long with its 164 minutes. But if you are familiar with the previous two films you are perfectly entertained throughout every minute. While I would say that you can watch the second movie without having seen the first one, I couldn’t say that you can watch Dark Knight Rises. There are a lot of hints going back to the first movie and, of course, the second one. Even though there is one thing I missed, and that was a single mentioning of the Joker. I think they completely left him behind. Of course you cannot bring him back on screen… but you could have at least mentioned him somewhere. And, if I did not miss anything, they did not.
On the technical aspects there are almost no complaints. The camera, the pacing, cutting, music… it all goes together very well. Fight scenes as well as the mass scenes are well choreographed and executed. Acting is top notch and every actor/actress is trying to get the most off of the character they are playing. Some slightly clunky dialogue here and there. But only in the super hero moments or fight scenes. The VFX work is phenomenal and blends perfectly into the live action footage. Quality work, much like in The Dark Knight. Sound work felt good on most parts. I had more problems with Batman’s rough voice than Bane’s. I don’t know if that ‘super hero mode voice sound change’ was really necessary for Batman.
This movie is a great conclusion to the series and I hope it will keep the Batman franchise untouched, at least for 10 years. I doubt that though. Unfortunately.