MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

Wil Avitt
Wil Avitt's picture

Well, here we are, my review of The Dark Knight Rises. It's a week late, but I'm sure you'll all agree that the delay was both necessary and worth it, as giving people a little extra time to see the movie allows us to have a better discussion of it. If you didn't catch my DC Update last week, I will offer one last warning. The following review contains MASSIVE SPOILERS. If you haven't seen the movie yet, I highly suggest you do not read on any further.

The final chapter of Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy", The Dark Knight Rises picks up the story eight years after the death of Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the previous film, The Dark Knight. With Batman taking the rap for the Two-Face murders in order to save Gotham City from having to see her white knight go down, Bruce Wayne has hung up his cape and cowl and become something of a recluse, locking himself up in Wayne Manor. Most of his own servants have never even seen him. He has also managed to bring Wayne Industries to near bankruptcy, having moth-balled a very expensive project in renewable energy, because the nuclear source was too easily converted into a bomb.

Enter Bane, an exiled member of Ra's al Ghul's League of Shadows. Bane has come to Gotham with a small army to finish the job Ra's started in Batman Begins, the destruction of Gotham City. Where Ra's used economics the first time he tried to destroy Gotham and fear the second, Bane has decided to use class warfare to bring anarchy to the city. Hmmm... does any of this sound familiar to anyone? To make a long story short (since we've all seen the film), Batman returns to defeat Bane, ends up being broken over Bane's knee (ala Batman 497) and is thrown into a prison that Bane himself (we're led to believe) had once escaped (ala the Vengeance of Bane one-shot). The broken Batman then retrains his mind and his body to come back and defeat Bane, who is going to use the Wayne Industries power source which he had converted into the nuclear bomb Bruce Wayne had feared would happen, to blow the city to hell and back. Batman disposes of the bomb, but dies (we're led to believe) in the process.

Ok, first of all, this was not just a great end to the Nolan trilogy, it was honestly the perfect end to the Batman story as a whole. Batman may have "died" saving Gotham, but Bruce Wayne managed to somehow survive and has given up Batman-ing in favor of a happy, normal life with Selina Kyle (AKA Catwoman) somewhere in Europe. It's nice to see Bruce put his obsession behind him and just disappear into the shadows, only to emerge in a world brighter and happier than one he's known since he was ten. Maybe I'm sappy, but it gave me a good feeling to see Bruce Wayne finally happy. Another thing I enjoyed was that, unlike the previous films in the series, this wasn't so much Christopher Nolan making a Batman movie as it was a Christopher Nolan movie that just happened to have Batman in it some. It's extremely difficult to make a third movie in a series feel fresh, but Nolan definitely pulled it off here.

The Dark Knight Rises was definitely and 80% perfect movie. There were some lame things. I felt the Robin nudge at the end was pretty lame. I mean, the guy's name is John Blake (not Dick Grayson), and he never wears red or green, so he isn't really Robin. He's still just a cop whose first name just happened to be Robin. Nolan tried to be cute, but it was lame. Also, Bane's size seemed to fluctuate a bit throughout the movie. I honestly think they started filming before Tom Hardy (Praetor Shinzon, Star Trek: Nemesis) had gotten as big as he was ultimately going to get. There's really only one scene where he's noticable smaller, but I also think that's why he wears the fur coat so often. To mask that he's not as big as in other scenes. It wasn't really distracting to the movie or anything, just something I noticed. I also hated that the young child who escaped from the prison (Pena Duro on the comics, unnamed in the film), who you're led to believe was Bane through the entire movie, was actually Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia. I thought that was lame because it was just such a perfect retelling of Bane's origin from the comics that I thought making the child Talia just ruined all of the attention to detail they used in bringing the comic story to the screen. While we're on the lame topic, throw the Batplane up on that list too. While it looked cool, it didn't look like the Batplane. Honestly, it looked a lot more like Blue Beetle's flying beetle and everytime they showed it I just kept thinking how much more awesome it would have been had it actually been in a Blue Beetle movie instead of Batman.

TDKR also borrowed extensively from various comics, and I enjoyed that immensely. Vengeance of Bane is used, the breaking of the Batman was right out of the Knightfall storyline and even Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns is used a little bit. It wasn't an adaptation of any one comic story, but it definitely was truer to the elements it did use than any Batman movie before it. I've always liked Bane as a villain and after being just absolutely disappointed by the depiction of the character in Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, it was nice to see the character finally done properly. Jonathan Crane (Scarecrow) also makes a welcome appearance, making him the only villain to appear in all three movies, though I did think the part he played might actually have originally been intended for the Joker before Heath Ledger's untimely death. Cillian Murphy did a great job, it just seemed like more of a Joker part than a Scarecrow part. And I was a little disappointed that he didn't wear his Scarecrow mask.

All in all, The Dark Knight Rises was a great movie. The Dark Knight was a better Batman movie, but I don't know to sat it was a better overall movie or not. The two are definitely close. I also think The Dark Knight Rises was a better movie than The Avengers, even though Avengers is still ahead in box office revenue as of right now. The Dark Knight Rises is most certainly recommended, not just to Batman fans, but to anyone who enjoys just a really great movie.

Will Conservatives Like This Movie?

Yes. It has very conservative themes, such as the evils of using class warfare to divide a society in order to make it that much easier to destroy it. Bane most times sounds like a poster boy for the Occupy movement, but he doesn't really believe the crap he's spitting. He's using class warfare for nothing more than to divide the people to suit his own agenda, which is, of course, to control them. I'm sure it was unintentional, but Bane really did seem to be a parallel to the Democrat agenda and the policies of the Obama administration.