Review it!: The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan finally concludes his Batman trilogy, but does it live up to our expectations?

It’s been four years since The Dark Knight came out but eight years have passed in terms of story. Taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes, Batman is hunted down by the Gotham Police Department and forced into exile. Mourning the loss of his darling Rachel, Bruce has submerged himself in self loathing, and has become the ultimate recluse. With Grey streaks in his hair, Bruce has approached middle age-  walking around Wayne Manor with a cane, the physical strains of being Batman has finally taking its toll.

Batman’s triumphant return starts off with the mysterious appearance of Selina Kyle. She sets in motion a chain of events culminating in the arrival of Bane, a ruthless terrorist with plans to destroy Gotham City. With the future of the city at stake, Batman must emerge from his exile and confront Bane to bring about an end to his reign of terror and claim his rightful place as the true Savior of Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises introduces us to the villain; Bane (Tom Hardy), a menacing, heartless monster who finds killing as easy as breathing. He is simply a muscular mass of pure evil who orchestrates an elaborate takeover of Gotham City. The role is a huge waste of Tom Hardy’s true acting ability.  At points I found the character to be boring. He’s very one-dimensional and poorly defined. Bane is less riveting and complex than the Joker and therefore less interesting to watch. Having Bane as the main antagonist, is this films biggest flaw. He is certainly more than a physical match for Batman, but he’s never so much a fearsome figure. He has some great action sequences (like the aerial hijack), but he’s more like a muzzled dog, easily a sidekick, but not a show stopper.

One of the new female representations is Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who brings some much needed style to the proceedings. They never call her Catwoman by name, and she’s never as campy as Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry were in previous film incarnations of the role, yet this Selina Kyle retains those key traits (the sly humour, the sexiness, the fighting prowess and stealth) that fans love about the comic book character.

The other woman in Bruce’s life is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a wealthy philanthropist who hopes to work with Wayne Enterprises on developing clean, sustainable energy. The romance that develops between her and Bruce is utterly unbelievable and woefully underdeveloped – which is a real problem because she plays a key role in the film’s climactic revelations.

Then we meet Officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an orphan like Bruce Wayne, Blake adds a youthful presence as an up and comer in the Gotham Police Department. He reaches out to Bruce after Bane invades the city, and inspires Bruce to revisit his own childhood as an orphan. As great of an actor Gordon-Levitt is there is not much to his character and is underutilized.

Fellow veterans Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) are still alive and well, but with the film so overstuffed with new characters, and sub-plots, they are sadly left behind and undervalued.

I walked into the The Dark Knight Rises with high expectations. When you give people something extraordinary (The Dark Knight), they expect it every time. Anything short of that feels like a letdown. For a nearly three-hour-long movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” has its ups and downs. The film is structured like a sprawling novel with lots of characters, expository dialog, flashbacks, and a few pointless scenes that actually slows down its momentum. It does have several exciting action set-pieces, but none of which provoke the kind of jaw-dropping reaction that the truck flip did in The Dark Knight. Still, there are enough brawls, chases, and stuff going boom to satisfy hungry action fans. Banes aerial hijack (which opens the film) is spectacular, well written, and well executed. It is definitely a sight to behold in IMAX. However, if you are a big fan of Heath ledger’s Joker, you will definitely feel a difference. The Dark Knight Rises is a good film on its own, even better than Batman Begins, but is it better than The Dark Knight? It’s questionable.

Overall I give “The Dark Knight Rises” a 8/10. Most of the film was shot in IMAX (72mins) and it’s really the best way to watch it.

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“The Dark Knight Rises”, is rated PG-13  for Intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.  Running time: 164minutes. In theatres everywhere July 20, 2012.