Thursday, August 23, 2012

FILM REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

The third movie in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is now difficult to be seen outside of the context of a horrific act of gun violence by a mad man and the follow-on to one of the most successful films of the last decade, 2008's The Dark Knight. However, to me, it was my most anticipated film of the year because it is the new film by my favorite director. Nolan's previous film was the brilliant Inception, my favorite film of 2010.

The Dark Knight Rises stars Oscar winners Christian Bale, Sir Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman. Also in the cast are Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. The film's screenplay was written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan. The film's story is credited to Nolan and David S. Goyer (Dark City, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight).

As expected, the film has set the box-office aflame, although not at quite the same torrid pace of the record setting The Dark Knight. That movie made over $1 billion worldwide, and grossed $533 million dollars domestically. It has a current rating of 94% on while the sequel has a rating of 87%. The sequel The Dark Knight Rises  grossed $353 million domestically in the first 17 days of release, which is about 11% below where The Dark Knight was at that point.

So, which film is better? I would unequivocally answer that The Dark Knight Rises is the better movie, and clearly the best of Nolan's Batman trilogy. Having seen the film twice in its first two weeks of release, I can summarize the high points of the film.

They are: Hathaway's performance as Catwoman Selina Kayle, Hardy's performance as Bane and Gordon-Levitt's John Blake. Other key components are Nolan's direction, Hans Zimmer's score and the overall "look and feel" of the movie, which I think would be art direction/production design. I even apprecviated Cotillard's surprisingly small (but pivotal) role as Miranda Tate. Hathaway looks amazing as the cat burglar who forms an uneasy alliance with Bruce Wayne/Batman but who also betrays him in a potentially deadly fashion. I'm a Kinsey 6 (exclusively homosexual) but even I was looking at Hathaway in her catsuit going, "Damn that is one hot outfit!" Hardy is absolutely terrifying as Bane. One's first reaction when one sees him on screen is "Oh my goodness what have they done to Tom Hardy's body? The guy is huge!" Bane is physically imposing and extremely threatening. Despite (or maybe because he is) wearing a bizarre facial mask which only reveals his eyes, Hardy is forced to use his voice and physical presence to convey the nuances of his character and he does an outstanding job. Gordon-Levitt has left his child star days long behind him with his breakout roles in (500) Days of Summer and Inception. Here he plays the main audience surrogate as a fresh-faced police officer who is a fan of the now-reviled Batman and who never loses sight of the greater good. As in most Nolan's film the casting of every role is exquisite, even in essentially tiny roles. One of my personal favorite actors, the attractive Daniel Sunjata has a way too-brief appearance as a special forces officer.

The script is engaging, and includes some very nice twists and surprising reveals at the end. That is not to say that the plot hang together completely, but the central questions posed by entire trilogy such as "What are the implications and complications of an ordinary man with extraordinary resources who decides to put on a mask and fight crime and evil in a crime-ridden city?" The way Nolan resolves these issues in the third film are extremely satisfying and one walks out of the theater appreciating the way the three films work together as a cohesive and continuous story.

The Dark Knight Rises is not just an excellent example of a summer superhero movie but is also an example of simply a very good film, and finding one film which is able to exist as examples of both of these is quite a rare thing indeed.

TitleThe Dark Knight Rises.
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Running Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sensuality and language.
Release Date: July 20, 2012.
Viewing Date: July 23, 2012 (and July 28, 2012).

Writing: A.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A+.
Impact: A.

Overall Grade: A/A+ (4.083/4.0).


Butch Pansy said...

How does one arrive at an overall grade of B-/C+ from four A/A+ grades? Professor, you are mad.

Ron Buckmire said...

Sorry, that was a typo...It's fixed now


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