The Dark Knights Rises (4 out of 5)
Directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception, Memento)
Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan (Memento)
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman
Last night I was able to experience all three Batman films from Christopher Nolan back to back. What a way to watch this "trilogy!" Batman Begins started at 6:30, and set the pace from one of the entertaining film experiences I have ever had. The film series has changed the face of "comic book" or pulp film, and this film is the largest undertaking for Nolan to date within this series.
The films starts eight years after The Dark Knight, Batman and Bruce Wayne have both disappeared from the public since the fall of Harvey Dent. Batman is public enemy number one for the police, and Wayne himself has isolated himself from the outside world because he felt as though he failed at saving Gotham, and its people from the chaos the Joker imposed. Bruce Wayne is drawn back in the world of Batman when a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Hathaway) breaks into his home stealing his finger prints. This thief leads way to another criminal mastermind Bane (Hardy( who wants to release Gotham from the chains of the government and take chaos to a whole new level.
Revealing any more of the plot would the pure enjoyment for audiences. The film is epic and Christopher Nolan has taken on some mammoth productions in the past, but this films large scale ups the ante. Nolan has tied together some modern elements of societal problems within this film like within his other films to make this world more salient. Financial troubles are at the center of this film, and mistrust of the government. In the current socio-political/economic climate (on a global level) there is a mistrust of those who were born with silver spoons in their mouth. There are numerous points in the film when characters like Selina Kyle and others point out the fact that Bruce has never had to struggle financially so he does not understand the way these "villains" have built up this fierce anger and hatred toward those who have never had to fight or even work for what they needed.
As Wayne Batman have grown weaker and goes further into seclusion the League of Shadows new leader Bane becomes "Gotham's reckoning." Hardy does not get to act in the same fashion Heath Ledger did with his version of the Joker, but the Bane villain is different. Bane wears a mouthpiece because of something when he was younger, the apparatus on his face keeps him alive. People are going to complain they can't understand Bane, although it was much better in this film than in the initial test screening. Bane represents more than an agent of chaos; he wants to turn Gotham inside out, and has no fear about bringing the people of Gotham to their knees.
Selina Kyle wants to see the people of Gotham suffer too. Kyle's cat burglar is done incredibly well; she does purr, or become overly cat like, she is more of a bad ass acrobat. Hathaway does a great job with being sultry, and has incredible chemistry with Bale. The character never feels out of place like I thought it would. The other female in the film Miranda Tate (Cotillard) is the financial savior for Wayne Enterprises, the character is a bit bland throughout and has sexual encounter with Bruce Wayne that does not seem to make sense because of Kyle, but the end result is brilliant.
Another new character on the scene is John Blake (Gordon-Levitt) a cop who becomes a detective. Through John's eyes the story tells a sign of the hope youth have in the the symbol of someone like Batman who will come in and save the day. Gordon-Levitt is a great addition to this film, and it fits that Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon (one of the best working actors) finally has a cop on his side who understands what Batman represents.
Batman himself or the broken Bruce Wayne played by Christian Bale has evolved so much. Watching Bale in all three films yesterday have proven to show that not only has this man grown as an actor, but he truly has taken fans of this franchise on an evolutionary journey with this character. Bale's Bruce Wayne and Batman has taken flight within this film, and this is one great performance.
While Bale and Nolan do an incredible job within this film, there are still flaws that exist. Some will call this film "clunky" and while I disagree with that label I can see where the boom can over power. The opening sequence tries to replicate the introduction of the Joker, but there is no way to repeat that brilliant introduction. Hans Zimmer's score for this film has moments where the music overpowers the dialogue or becomes to bombastic, but yet there are also the quiet moments when the score reveals some of the most wrought moments. There were times in the beginning when Nolan seemed to be going in too many directions with too many characters, but the film filtered that, and even as the end (like in The Dark Knight) feels as though its taking too long to get there you are on the edge of your seat because of the built up with anticipation.
As a comic book reader this film hit it out the park with some of the most interesting Batman stories. While I know Nolan wants to end the story with this film, and it feels like it could be an ending there are so many stories to explore further. If this is the end, as Nolan states this was an incredible way to end this series, and I feel as though the closure given provides enough on an opportunity for the caped crusader to disappear into the night.