Christopher Nolan tries to wrap up the wildly successful Batman trilogy with lackluster, preachy results.
Plot: It’s been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent and Batman hasn’t been seen since. Neither has Bruce Wayne. The combined emotional damage of the Joker murdering a loved one and Harvey Dent’s corruption, has made Wayne a recluse. When a new threat comes to Gotham, he is spurred into taking up the cowl once again, but will he have to sacrifice everything to save the city this time?
Good Stuff: As always, Christopher Nolan and his immensely talented crew have created a genuine work of pure entertainment. His unique ability to create chaos on screen using in-camera effects never fails to add a level of reality to the stories he tells. Performances by everyone were excellent, but it’s really Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman who shine here ““ which makes sense since they have the largest amount of screen time. These are the type of solid performances that all comic book movie directors try to capture, and few really do.
Bad Stuff: After the opening sequences, The Dark Knight Rises descends into an overblown fantasy of what the Occupy movement could look like if taken to extremes ““ which is actually intensely fascinating and well executed. Unfortunately, this particular allegory has no precedent or place in the Batman universe, and the story doesn’t make a lot of sense within the context of the characters created in the first two films, making it difficult for the audience to invest in the stakes. Additionally, while Bane is a great villain, so little of what makes him tick ““ or why people follow his legitimately insane plan with such blind faith ““ is ever explained that it’s hard to see him as a true threat. (Or is the true threat supposed to be regular work-a-day folk? If so, this is extremely poorly communicated, but would have been just what the film needed to really push its message into legitimacy.) For fans of Batman’s comic and movie incarnations, this film is a complete disappointment.
Final Thoughts: The Dark Knight Rises is an excellent movie, but not a Batman movie. Chris Nolan was clearly trying to work some stuff out, and decided to use a wholly inappropriate vehicle to do so. Everything about this film feels obligatory, so it’s recommended that you stick with the first two if you’re going to continue enjoying this franchise.
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