22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

This is it, the big film event of the year, Christopher Nolan ending his trilogy of Batman films. For most people this has eclipsed even The Hobbit and Avengers Assemble as the big film of the year so what did I think. This was a brilliant end to the best series of superhero films ever made.
Now in order to avoid spoilers I will not be talking about the plot of the film. All I'll say is that it is a very fitting end to this series of Batman films and there are a number of plot twists at the end of the film which feel very natural to the film and makes some of the characters incredible. In relation to the other films, this is more along the lines of Batman Begins than The Dark Knight so I would suggest that you watch Batman Begins before you watch this film in order to fully understand everything.

What I really want to talk about is the acting. Everyone from the previous films that come back all do their jobs brilliantly with there being some scenes of real powerhouse acting from all of them, especially Michael Caine who gives some really powerful, intense speeches which make you really empathise with Alfred for the first time in any Batman film, but the new members of the cast easily outshine them. Firstly, Tom Hardy is incredible as Bane, he has a real physical presence that makes the character incredibly threatening and you really feel that this is the only time Batman is going up against a stronger opponent just due to Hardy's body and his voice, while distorted by the mask, has this weird quality that makes it so you listen to every word he says and Hardy gets some good moments of comedy, the best being when he does a little "alright" nod in the stock exchange scene. The best part of Hardy though is his eyes, you see the real madness and drive in Bane through his eyes and it's through this that you see the true character of Bane as just pure evil. You can tell that Nolan is going in a completely different direction in villains this time around, with Bane being a completely different beast to Heath Ledger's Joker and both are equally powerful in the way they are intended to be. On a performance level, Ledger is superior but in a motivation and writing level, Bane is superior, this is one of those cases in which there's something about Bane which makes him such a powerful villain that you can never quite put your finger on. Marion Cotillard is great as Miranda Tate, being a great representation of the world Bruce Wayne has left behind and if I talk any more about her, I may give away a major plot twist. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant as John Blake, he's got a very optimistic and hotheaded attitude to Gotham and he wants to prove himself but the peace-time conditions in Gotham at the start of the film prevent him from doing this. Levitt also works brilliantly with Oldman with some of their scenes together being highlights of the film. There are some actors in smaller roles, Juno Temple is good fun to watch as Jen, Matthew Modine plays broken down police officer Foley brilliantly and there's a good little role for Aiden Gillan, better known to Game of Thrones fans as Littlefinger, at the start of the film and near the end of the film there is a brilliant cameo which I won't dare spoil. Out of all the new cast members though, the standout is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (who is never called Catwoman in the film) . Hathway is very confident and is able to quickly change her expressions to reflect the current situation incredibly well and she is brilliant in reflecting the rich v. poor backdrop of the film through her constant changes in costume throughout the film to reflect who she's with in a social sense. It's also great to see that the film never really objectifies Hathaway while she's in the Catwoman suit when it would be so easy for the film to do that because of how Hathaway looks whilst in the suit.

On a visual sense this film is easily the best out of the series. I went to see the film in full 70mm IMAX and over an hour of the film was projected in full IMAX and that makes those scenes all the more visually impressive. Part of the impressiveness is that everything that Christopher Nolan could do for real, he did. The cinematography by Wally Pfister is also incredible with there being more scenes in daylight now and the fight scenes are filmed so that you can see everything that is happening and the fact that one of these scenes has hundreds of people fighting at the same time makes it all the more impressive. The design of some of the new locations are also really well done but I do not want to spoil my favourite of the new sets in the film.

This film also knows how to utilise music effectively. There are a lot of scenes in which the music helps build up the emotion and intensity of the film but the most effective scenes are the ones without any music, the ones where just the dialogue, the camera movements and, in some cases, the physicality of the fight make you feel everything that you need to in a scene, and this also allows you to fully focus on the visual side of the film in these scenes and the quality of the visual side of the film makes it all the better.

There are some problems in the film though, one of which is that Christian Bale still has that awful voice for Batman, although it is toned down a bit from The Dark Knight and the political tones of the film are not done subtly at all, mainly the 99% theme presiding throughout the film, and this makes the film a little bit politically preachy at some points. These problems though are little nitpicks in an otherwise brilliant film.

This film is a triumph. The perfect ending to the Nolan Batman films. Is it as good as The Dark Knight? No, but then again, I've only seen three films that are better than The Dark Knight and this comes damn close to being as good with an amazing ending which brings this cycle of Batman films full circle. I really wish I could talk in full detail about why The Dark Knight Rises is so good but I do not want to spoil anything for you and the less you know going into this film, the better the film will be as a result.

My Rating: 5/5


  1. Hi, just arrived at your blog through the LAMB website. I actually was a little disappointed with Rises, but I believe it might be because of my high expectations. I was expecting something as great as The Dark Knight (or even better)

    However, you make a good point: the acting in this movie is amazing, Anne Hathaway being a big surprise to me.

    (You mentioned there are three films better than The Dark Knight. I got so curious, what movies are they?)

    1. Paula, those 3 films are Aliens (which I've reviewed), The Shawshank Redemption and The Wicker Man (1972)