by Ken B.
“This may be the best superhero movie ever made.”
– My Review of The Dark Knight
I will formally retract that statement for The Dark Knight, and place it under The Dark Knight Rises. This is a captivating, spellbinding, mesmerizing thriller, and unlike most trilogies, these kept getting better. I always wanted a superhero movie to avoid the camp fate, and be stylish, grim, and serious. I thought I was crazy for thinking that. Maybe Christopher Nolan and I are crazy together. At 165 minutes, The Dark Knight Rises is the longest in the trilogy, but the runtime zips right by. There are minimal pacing issues here.
Each of the three films has developed its own visual quirks. Batman Begins reminded me of the iconic artwork seen when referring to a 1980s Ridley Scott film (can you guess which?). The Dark Knight had the lighting similar to the night|day divider seen in some early educational thing. Bright colors – interiors. Dark colors – exteriors, creating an ironic contrast when it wasn’t so easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys. The Dark Knight Rises takes the mood of the grand finale it is. Not afraid to solely use visuals to take the viewer for a ride, this is a special effects treat.
While watching the movie, there was one issue that kept bugging me, and that was Tom Hardy as Bane, the villain. His appearance would suggest an output where comparisons to Darth Vader would not be unusual. Except… he sounds like your stereotypical wise grandfather character. Seriously. Only rarely is he menacing. However, in the grand scale of emotions that pour out of this huge and colorful opera of a conclusion, this can be forgiven. Otherwise, we’re given a brilliant cast. Christian Bale is solid as the Caped Crusader. Having Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman once again appear with their voices in the same movie is an aural gift. There are “new” characters, too. We’ve got Selina Kyle/Catwoman (ANNE HATHAWAY), who gave the character a decent outing, wiping away just a tad of the trauma that came from Catwoman (Comar a.k.a. “Pitof’, 2004). There’s the addition of a young Gotham cop, John Blake (JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT). Oh, and did I mention Jim Gordon (GARY OLDMAN), the police commissioner? Oldman, as always, is fantastic, despite the fact his role is a bit reduced here.
These characters combine in the plot, which shows Bane wreaking havoc and blowing stuff up in and out of Gotham, which climaxes in a large nuclear bomb that could obliterate the city, but not before causing the floor to drop down on a football game, and getting our daily dosage of product placement from the Jumbotron (xfinity and Doritos).
“Ok. Ok,” I wrote in my notebook during an action sequence “… this is great.”. Like its predecessors, there is no doubt that The Dark Knight Rises’ strongest suit is its absolutely awesome action sequences. Actually, they may be Nolan’s in general. Well, besides his ability to write. Every Batman fan that camped outside multiplexes had the eternal, undying hope that this would be a satisfying conclusion. Of course, that’s exactly what it is. The feeling I had after viewing this can only be described as little kid excitement. You know, the kind of excitement a 5-year-old will get when handed a big lollipop. Whatever The Dark Knight Rises turns out to be remembered for, I know I hope it will be because it created a full-circle conclusion to one of the strongest cinematic trilogies since Lord of the Rings or the original three Star Wars. Christopher Nolan was taking a risk by creating a more mature, darker tone to a franchise typically associated with lighthearted popcorn entertainment. These should be a benchmark for future superhero movies to come, as it shows, what with talent, can be achieved to change how we look at some kinds of movies.