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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises...Above All?
A chilling villain; the backdrop of a desolate city; a moral-guided hero rising above all; themes such as these define the films we’ve come to expect from director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. From the less-acclaimed Batman Begins to the triumphant classic represented in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan’s work has risen to elite status in the contemporary realm of motion pictures. Through a number of masterfully-managed aspects, among them casting, plot, script-writing, and production value, the first two movies of the trilogy raised the standard expected of the third and final film. 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) delivers much of what made its predecessors so successful, but though it’s perhaps the best film of the year, it may not be the best in Nolan’s series.
The casting and writing were generally well-done, though there were a few exceptions, largely due to some irksome dialogue. With all due respect to the late Heath Ledger, who, more than anyone else, thrust the trilogy toward greatness, the central villain of TDKR (Bane, played by Tom Hardy) stands alongside Joker in the ranks of unforgettable nemeses. Bane’s calculating manner derives believable fear in no less effective a fashion than the deranged actions of Ledger’s Joker; without question, I found Bane to be the most well-portrayed character in the film. As for Anne Hathaway, the newest actress to portray the nimble Catwoman, the results are rather mixed. Hathaway adopts the sly disposition of her character quite well, showing herself to be the pretty face ever inventing ways to use it to her advantage. Her oft-sarcastic quips number far too many, though, pushing her dialogue with Batman toward the tag of contrived. The other new cast member, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, works well in the role of an inexperienced but crafty recent addition to the GCPD. The rest of the cast, as always, delivers memorable performances in bunches, adding a rich depth to the film.
With a runtime of more than two and a half hours, it’s unsurprising that TDKR takes its time delving into its central storyline. Though much of the beginning of the film trades intense action for carefully pieced together plot details, it never feels slow; in a way, the superb story development in Nolan’s previous films causes the viewer to hang on each moment, regardless of the amount of suspense or action involved. Once the intricate pieces of the plot begin to fall into place, the film quickly gains momentum, increasing the prevalence of high-intensity sequences but treading lightly enough to (mostly) escape the negativities of gratuitous action and violence. The content of the story itself seems somewhat far-fetched at times, as some parts of the film don’t quite seem to fit into place with others. It proves difficult at times to believe some of the events occurring in the film, and the quality of the plot doesn’t quite match that of The Dark Knight. Still, it’s commendable that Nolan had the inventiveness to create such a story and (for the most part) present it in a way that places it in the realm of possibility.
With so much anticipation centered around the film and such stunning previous works available for comparison, it was going to be difficult for Nolan to outdo himself yet again. Though the new characters, especially Bane, help lift the movie near the top of this year’s heap, TDKR ultimately falls short of one of the past decade’s greatest films, The Dark Knight. Hardy and Bale, along with the ever impressive Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, provide absolutely wondrous scenes to behold, but the events that envelop their world overshadow the excellence they exude. With a plot and direction that simply aren’t as perfectly-crafted as those of its predecessor, Gotham City’s dark knight rises again, only to see that its peak ultimately remains behind it. FINAL RATING(out of 10.0): 8.3