Friday, July 20, 2012

"The Legend Ends" The Dark Knight Rises review

The time has come once again for the last installment of director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy. Undoubtedly one of the best comic book film series of all time, Nolan and company had a lot to live up to after the ridiculous success of The Dark Knight. So does The Dark Knight Rises fall prey to dreaded threequel-itus? No chance in hell!

The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best films of the year. Everyone in this movie was at the top of their game and it shows when you watch this movie. It is safe to say that this is Christian Bale's best performance as Bruce Wayne, a vast improvement over what we got in The Dark Knight (I always felt like The Joker stole the show). Whether he is in the cowl and cape or not Bale was always great to watch.

That isn't to say the other members of the cast weren't great as well. Michael Caine gives a heartbreaking performance as Bruce's butler Alfred. Marion Cotillard is masterful at playing the multiple sides to her character, Miranda Tate. Gary Oldman gives us a Jim Gordon who is plagued by the guilt surrounding the lie about Harvey Dent's death. Morgan Freeman is always enjoyable as Lucius Fox. However, it's Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy who truly give memorable performances as John Blake and Bane respectively.

Gordon-Levitt continues to become one of my favorite actors and John Black quickly became one of my favorite characters in this film. Obviously his best scenes are with Bale as the two characters' relationship is one forged out of an understanding about the anger that comes with losing a loved one. Blake sees through everyone's BS, including Bruce Wayne's, and is determined to do what is right.

Tom Hardy is down right terrifying as Bane. Every scene he is in he carries a gravitas that only a few movie villains in the past have been able to pull off, including Darth Vader. From the very get-go Bane is a force to be reckoned with. The movie builds up the inevitable first confrontation between Batman and Bane, and when it finally goes down you know Batman doesn't stand a chance. Every scene with Bane beating people up you see the brutality behind every punch. I'd even go so far as to say that Hardy's Bane surpasses The Joker as one of the most terrifying villains in The Dark Knight movies. This is because, while The Joker is a great mental foe for Batman, Bane is both mentally and physically superior to Batman.

Speaking of fights, this movie has a ton of 'em! Each and every one of them more grander than the last. There is one between Bane and Batman which I consider to be one of the best fight scenes in a movie for a very long time. It's clear that Nolan has definitely taken some of the criticism about previous Batman fights to heart. You feel each and every punch, hear Batman struggle to land solid blows on Bane with all of his might, and it is all so epic!

The story is an interesting mix of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. There are tons of aspects found in Begins that is here in Rises. In fact, the only thing that really returns from the previous film is the lie about Harvey Dent. Everything else feels like a much grander version of Begins, and that is perfect for what this movie needed to be. While the film can sometimes jump around rather quickly, leaving some slightly confused, it doesn't detract from the story all too much.

However, of all the Christopher Nolan Batman films this one is notable in not feeling like a Nolan movie. Sure, his touch is visible in every frame of film and the IMAX shots are astoundingly beautiful. However, the story is not what I've come to expect from Nolan. This is slightly a good thing because it gives The Dark Knight Rises a very unique identity like the previous films had.

This movie seems lighter than the others, despite how dark the story is, and that can be attributed to how epic the movie feels. But it's not just that, there are numerous scenes in this film that are genuinely hilarious yet don't stand out as being brevity for brevity's sake. My favorite joke is one between Catwoman and Batman, if you've seen the film you know the one I'm talking about, and it was a great joke.

I wish I could go into more detail but I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. So I'll move on to another subject: the effects.

This is the most special effects heavy Nolan movie we have seen yet. We have Batman's new vehicle, aptly named The Bat, buildings and bridges being blown up, and of course that football scene. And every single one of them looks great. Not once did I catch myself thinking everything was CG, I was in the moment for the whole movie.

Of course, Nolan likes to keep things practical, and the practical effects in this movie are a spectacle to behold. The prologue with Bane, which everyone has no doubt seen by now, hijacking that plane is something straight out of a Bond movie. The hordes of people battling in the streets of Gotham while Bane and Batman duke it out on the steps of the courthouse. It would have been so easy to go CG for such complicated scenes, yet every single person you see on those streets is real and it conveys the epic scale of this movie like no movie, not even Lord of The Rings, possibly could.

So what did I think of the ending? Was is fitting, was it good, was it bad? Was it Mass Effect 3 all over again?

No, the ending of The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to Nolan's Batman trilogy and you will be pleased, and at some points positively surprised at how this movie ends.

Go and see it, you will not be disappointed.

I give The Dark Knight Rises 4 Batarangs out of 5 for a fitting end to one of the best comic book movie series of all time.

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