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Review: The Dark Knight Rises
Just seven years ago, Christopher Nolan revealed an amazing vision of Batman with Batman Begins, a hallmark for modern coming-of-age tales. Then, with The Dark Knight, Nolan set a new standard for awesome that started somewhere just beyond Alpha-Centauri. But sitting in the theater, waiting for midnight and the lights to dim, I wondered, not for the first time, if the standard set by The Dark Knight only four years prior was unobtainable. This new film couldn't just be good or it wouldn't bare mentioning. It had to be great, better than great, amazing, amazing to the power of amazing kind of amazing. Sitting there, I wondered.
And then the lights dimmed, and a familiar, soft theme whispered through the room. I watched the studio logos fade in -- Legendary, Syncopy, DC Comics -- and fade out. A pale sheet of ice, like glass, appeared, and I could hear Jim Gordon giving a speech. The ice cracked from an invisible, inevitable pressure, and I saw Gordon's pained, resigned expression. And that's when I stopped wondering.
The Dark Knight Rises was everything and more....
Performances were solid. Veterans Bale, Oldman, Caine, and Freeman embraced more weathered, tired characters for this film but still retained aspects of their younger characters. Meanwhile, newcomers like Hardy, Hathaway, Gordon-Levitt, and Cotillard earned their screen time with boldness and subtlety. Hardy, even with Bane's awkward mask and pitchy voice, conveyed brutality, resourcefulness, and soul. Hathaway walked the knife-edge between femme fatale and desperate heroine, not relying on the sexy suit.
The music was phenomenal. Where Batman Begins helped establish Batman's theme and The Dark Knight played on the contrast between Batman's theme and the Joker's, The Dark Knight Rises pushes that conflict even further, giving Bane a savage theme, the perfect style to combat the aging Dark Knight.
The environments and costumes fully supported the story and the characters, never drawing attention to themselves. Gotham's size amplifies the importance of the chases and battles. The prison wreaks of despair and anger. Bane and his forces dress in piecemeal function like rebel forces, and Catwoman's suit blends a burglar's stealth with Selina Kyle's pzazz thanks to a pair of cat-ear goggles. Everything forms a single whole, never distracting from the focus.
The plot for the film is a bit more unwieldy than the previous two. While all three of Nolan's Batman films hover around the two-and-a-half hour mark, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight cover about a month of story. The Dark Knight Rises covers an entire year and references events up to three years prior to the film's start. Because of this larger scope, certain elements seem rushed and some curiosities go unexplored. The beginning in particular might have some viewers more focused on unraveling the previous scene than focusing on the current one.
Another casualty of the film's grandiose nature was one's willing suspension of disbelief. Viewers may have accepted a forty-year-old man with a military-grade battle suit dispatching thugs, but some of the more major reveals in this movie ask far more of the audience than previous films have. Nothing is so dubious as to fully break the willing suspension. Rather, it just takes more gulps of soda to swallow it all.
Bane's voice, as you might expect, does take some adjustment. How much adjustment will vary, depending on hearing, focus, things like that. It does work, though. It just takes time.
So, was The Dark Knight Rises a good film? It was amazing, amazing to power of amazing kind of amazing.
Was it as good as The Dark Knight? Absolutely. I prefer The Dark Knight because of its more sociological angle, but that's just my preference. Both films are equally impressive.
Should you see it? Well, honestly, you've probably already seen it, but you should see it again, and maybe a third time. You do notice new details each viewing.
Now, every film has specific elements that, better or worse, make it more than a sum of good and bad parts, but it's hard to get into that without spoiling things. So, if you want a bit more, check back soon for an inside look complete with spoilers and theories In the meantime, post your comments below, let me know what you thought of the feature.