Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Based on the DC Comics, The Dark Knight Rises is the story of a battered Bruce Wayne who dons his role as Batman after an eight-year hiatus to battle a cat burglar and a large man who has taken over the League of Shadows who hopes to wreak havoc on Gotham. Directed by Christopher Nolan and screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan with story by Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer. The film is the third and final part of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy as it follows Bruce Wayne in his quest to bring peace for Gotham as Christian Bale reprises the role. Also starring Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Ben Mendelsohn, Matthew Modine, and Tom Hardy as Bane. The Dark Knight Rises is a magnificent end to the Dark Knight trilogy from Christopher Nolan.

Eight years after the events that involved Harvey Dent’s death, Gotham lives in a world of peace but based on a lie as Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) starts to feel uneasy about the lie. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne is living a life as a recluse still lost over his grief and having Batman hide out. Yet, he learns that a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) has broken into his safe as she had been trying to retrieve his fingerprints for a business rival in John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn). Yet, Wayne learns about a far more sinister figure in a mercenary named Bane who plans to wreak havoc on Gotham. Realizing he needs to be Batman again, he has his left leg repaired while getting ready to face whoever as Bane has officially arrived at Gotham. Still, Wayne has to deal with his losses as he asks Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to take over Wayne Enterprises with Lucius Fox’s help.

With Gordon recovering from a gunshot after discovering Bane’s hideout, he asks a young police officer in John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to watch over things as Peter Foley (Matthew Modine) takes when Bane finally storms Gotham’s financial stock market to wreak havoc. Yet, it would mark the first of his many confrontations with Batman who makes his return as Batman also confronts Kyle over her theft as she reveals what she’s been doing. She would eventually lead Batman to confront Bane where the confrontation proves to be disastrous for Wayne as he’s sent to a mysterious land that he cannot escape leaving Bane to destroy Gotham all by himself.

After learning some stories about the League of Shadows and having to see Gotham be on its own under Bane’s terror with help from a fusion device Wayne had hoped to use for clean energy. The fusion device becomes a bomb that will detonate leaving the people of Gotham in fear as its criminals are free leaving to do whatever they want. Having to see Bane’s destruction, Wayne realizes what he must do to destroy Bane and the League of Shadows from destroying Gotham as he’ll need the help of some people.

The film is about Bruce Wayne/Batman getting back in the swing of things when Gotham is being threatened by a terrorist who hopes to finish the job that Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson and Josh Pence as the younger Ra’s Al Ghul) was able to finish in Batman Begins. Yet, Batman also has to deal with a cat burglar who has been trying to steal things from him in order for a businessman to bankrupt Bruce Wayne as she eventually realizes that she is getting little in return as she eventually teams up with Wayne. It’s all about Bane’s plan to fulfill Ra’s Al Ghul’s desire to destroy Gotham at the pinnacle of its chaos and then rebuild it as a new society. Still, he has to face Batman and a few others who actually believe in good triumphing over evil.

While the screenplay does have trouble following along with what Bane is planning along with subplots revolving around John Daggett’s plans to bankrupt Bruce Wayne for the League of Shadows. It does succeed in fleshing out the characters and motivation as it centers around Wayne’s desire to finally return as Batman following an eight-year hiatus but finds himself facing foes that are more powerful than him. Particularly as his motivations get him into conflict with his longtime butler Alfred (Michael Caine) who believes that Wayne is headed for death where he eventually reveals a secret that he kept for eight years.

Then there’s Bane who is this villain that represents a physical force where literally in his confrontations with Batman but also conceptually in how he terrorizes Gotham. Yet, he’s also a very intelligent man who wants to punish Wayne for the lies he created eight years before and for wounding the League of Shadows several years before that. He may not be the anarchist of the Joker nor the more organized planning of Ra’s Al Ghul but Bane is still an interesting villain. While other new character like John Blake and Miranda Tate are also interesting with some back story about them. Another character who simply steals the show from everyone is Selina Kyle. Though she isn’t called Catwoman throughout the film, she is a character that is quite complex as she’s just a thief who likes to steal for herself while aiding others in hopes to clear her name. Yet, she has to deal with all sorts of things as she eventually becomes conflicted about stealing from Wayne once Bane starts to wreak havoc.

Christopher Nolan’s direction is definitely vast in the way he presents the film in its opening scene with this elaborate scene of a plane being captured by a bigger plane that is inter-cut with a scene of Bruce Wayne watching above Wayne Manor to see Commissioner Gordon praise Harvey Dent. It’s a big way to open a film that is ambitious but also intimate in the way Nolan creates small scenes involving Wayne’s own turmoil with his loss that includes a heartbreaking moment where Alfred makes a confession that becomes an emotional turning point for Wayne in his upcoming confrontation with Bane. Yet, there are few scenes where Batman appears as it’s mostly to do with Wayne’s struggle to find reasons to be Batman again while dealing with all of these new dark forces.

Through the vast compositions and big action scenes, Nolan’s direction is truly ambitious as it includes the climatic battle between Batman and Bane where there are revelations into how Batman must save Gotham from nuclear Armageddon. It’s all about creating suspense and moments where Nolan is waiting for the payoff as well as things where Wayne has to face some realities. While there’s a few things in the film that don’t work such as a fantasy sequence where Wayne sees Ra’s Al Ghul in a dream. Still, Nolan does enough for what is expected in a blockbuster superhero film genre with his rapturous shots and thrilling action sequences that does more than entertain. Overall, Nolan creates a truly solid film that ends his Dark Knight trilogy on a high note.

Cinematographer Wally Pfister does amazing work with the photography such as the vast opening sequence and other action sequence that carries a wide depth of field while creating amazing lighting schemes for some of the film‘s interior scenes. Editor Lee Smith does excellent work with the editing to play up the intensity of the action films as well as slowing things down to build up the suspense. Production designers Nathan Crowley and Kevin Kavanaugh, with set decorator Paki Smith and art directors James Hambridge and Naaman Marshall, do spectacular work with the set pieces such as the new Batcave as well as Wayne Manor and the prison that Wayne is put in during the film‘s second half.

Costume designer Lindy Hemming does superb work with the costumes from the look of the Batsuit and Bane‘s costume to the gorgeous leather look of Selina Kyle‘s cat-suit. Visual effects supervisor Paul J. Franklin does terrific work with the minimal visual effects created such as the wide shots of the bridges blowing up as well as other shots involving the Batwing. Sound designer Richard King does brilliant work with the sound from the way the chants sound at the prison scene to the layering of sounds to exemplify the chaos that occurs in the film‘s second half. The film’s score by Hans Zimmer is wonderful for its percussive-driven score to play out the intensity of the action along with more low-key yet heavy orchestral themes to play up the drama.

The casting by John Papsidera and Toby Whale is incredible for the ensemble that is created for the film. With notable appearances from Liam Neeson and Josh Pence as Ra’s Ah Ghul with the latter in flashback scenes, other standouts include Juno Temple as Selina’s assistant Holly Robinson, Brett Cullen as a Congressman Selina woos, Thomas Lennon as a doctor, John Nolan as a Wayne Enterprises board member, Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Garcia, Alon Abutbul as the scientist Dr. Pavel that Bane kidnaps early in the film, Matthew Modine as deputy commissioner Foley, Chris Ellis as a priest John Blake confides in, Ben Mendelsohn as the slimy John Daggett, Burn Gorman’s as Daggett’s assistant Stryver, and Cillian Murphy reprising his role as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow in a mock trial scene.

Morgan Freeman is excellent as the always resourceful Lucius Fox while Michael Caine is brilliant as the very witty but concerned Alfred where the latter definitely pulls a lot of the emotional weight involving his relationship with Bruce Wayne. Marion Cotillard is excellent as philanthropist Miranda Tate who tries to get Bruce back in the world and be involved with a clean-energy machine that ends up being trouble. Gary Oldman is great as Commissioner Gordon who deals with the guilt he created from a lie as he becomes overwhelmed with facing Bane by himself only to find a new ally in John Blake. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb as John Blake, a hot-headed young cop turned detective who confronts Wayne about what really happened to Harvey Dent as well as try to figure out what Bane is doing. Tom Hardy is marvelous as Bane by exemplifying his physique as a huge force while proving to be a man of great intelligence and power as it’s definitely Hardy at his best.

Anne Hathaway is phenomenal as Selina Kyle where she definitely steals the show from everyone from the one-liners she gives to the way she is able to outwit Wayne in every way and form. It’s Hathaway bringing a lot of humor and physicality to a woman who can’t be trifled with as she gives out one of her greatest performances of her career. Finally there’s Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman where Bale gives another great performance by displaying the anguish and confusion of a man unsure if he’s willing to be Batman again while having to deal with all of these forces. It’s Bale creating a lot of realism to the character of Wayne while being more cunning as Batman where he is more unafraid to do whatever he needs to do to save Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises is an exhilarating and thrilling film from Christopher Nolan. Thanks to a large ensemble cast that features top-of-the-line performances from Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. It’s a film that definitely lives up to the hype though it doesn’t top its predecessors in terms of excitement and storytelling. It’s also a blockbuster that manages to excite but also engage for the way it reveals on what Batman must do to save the world. In the end, The Dark Knight Rises is an incredible film from Christopher Nolan.

© thevoid99 2012


Anonymous said...

Nice review Steve. I think I loved just about everything in this flick and even though I will admit that there are some issues with its story, I still couldn't get past the fact that when it comes to superhero movies/trilogies, this is as good as they come. Nolan has made it clear that this is his last Batty flick and I think with good reason because he's going to be able to do what he wants, when he wants and probably still kick ass doing so, as usual.

aarlene said...

Good review!!! I liked the movie!!!

thevoid99 said...

@Dan-It's my least favorite of the trilogy but there's nothing wrong with that. It's still a cut above most superhero films.

@aarlene-Thank you. I'm glad you liked the film as well.