Film Review: The Dark Knight Rises
So here is another one of my rare film reviews, this time for the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman trilogy. There are minor spoilers, but nothing that cannot be found in the trailers or the synopsis.
According to Nolan himself, the theme for Batman Begins was fear, The Dark Knight was chaos, and for The Dark Knight Rises it’s pain. The film starts with Bruce Wayne still struggling with the pain he incurred from the previous film, both physically in his body, and spiritually in the loss of Rachel Dawes, the only woman he ever actually loved. As the film progresses we find many of the characters also having to struggle with the issue of pain. Gary Oldman’s excellently portrayed Comissionar Gordan still carries the burden of having to lie about what really happened to Harvey Dent in the previous film. Michael Caine arguably gives the best performance of the entire film, he carries on being the voice of reason in Bruce Wayne’s life, but eventually he finds himself burdened with the possibility of losing Bruce and failing in his promise to his parents. And then there’s Bane, much in the same way The Joker symbolised the theme of chaos in that film, Bane personifies pain in this one. Both in his brutish strength and dark, excellent back story, he challenges everything Batman has to offer in his strength and intelligence, but where he has the upper hand is how he uses the pain and suffering from his life as the cornerstone of his power, much more so than Bruce Wayne is able to use his for Batman. As a result Bruce Wayne must overcome the pain he suffers at the hands of Bane, both physically and spiritually, and then ‘rise’ to meet the challenge he faces.
The film starts quite slowly, as both Bruce Wayne and Batman have retired from the world, there’s not much that happens for a while after the great opening scene, Nolan starts off by introducing all the characters and getting the pieces into place. But once it gets going it’s an epic piece of cinematic brilliance. As expected from Nolan you have great action set pieces backed by an ethereal story that revolves around deep three dimensional characters. Hans Zimmer’s original score is one of the best I’ve heard and adds a real dimension to the intensity of the film, that by far warrants an oscar on its own.
The big question I suppose, is it as good as The Dark Knight? The problem is is that this film had The Dark Knight to contend with in the first place, if it didn’t have to, this film would have nothing to compare with and would have arguably been one of the best films ever created. Personally, I would say it’s just a level below The Dark Knight. Heather Ledger’s The Joker was in a class of its own, not just in the portrayal, but the sheer genius of his plan, how he attempts to create chaos and destruct everything that Gotham holds dear. The corruption of Harvey Dent was one of the most profound story lines in film, almost Shakespearean in its complicity and depth. The Dark Knight Rises has certain elements of that but it doesn’t have anything to match. That doesn’t take anything away from Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane, given he has no facial features to work with, his body language and dialogue bring across the ferocity and intensity of his character. This is still a great film, and a worthy conclusion to the trilogy, it has everything we hoped for and I personally cannot wait to see it again.