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The Dark Knight Rises Review: 3 Things It Got Right…And 3 Things That Could Have Been Better

Under the direction of the mind-bending Christopher Nolan, the third and final installment of the Dark Knight trilogy managed to wow fans and critics alike upon release, going as far as to become the largest 2D release in film history at $249 million dollars worldwide on its opening weekend.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne remains locked up as a recluse in Wayne Manor as Gotham continues to mourn the death of Harvey Dent. After a masked mercenary by the name of Bane starts to wreak havoc thr0ughout the city, Bruce decides to return as Batman one last time to quell the madness and stop Bane before Gotham falls into ruin.

As a fan of the trilogy, I was more than satisfied with the conclusion, loving each moment of it from start to finish.

But, like any film, it was not without its highs and lows.

(SPOILERS…duh)

3 Things It Did Right

Catwoman

I’ve always liked Anne Hathaway, but when the announcement was made that she would be joining the cast as Catwoman, I was not without my doubts. But from the moment she kicked Wayne’s cane out from underneath him, I was sold.

Catwoman was one of the more interesting characters in the cast. Her quirky demeanor, sultriness, and inclination to deception all worked brilliantly to create a mysterious character who, although hammy and at times even corny, managed to be compelling enough to feel like a viable companion to Batman.

Soundtrack

Consistently one of my favorite elements of Nolan’s Dark Knight series, Hans Zimmer once again managed to capture the essence of the Dark Knight through his use of a dark, powerful soundtrack. Using both symphonic and electronic elements, Zimmer blended many parts together well to weave a compelling accompaniment to the story. Music especially stood out to me during the section of the film that took place in the prison. Coupled with airy vocals and the chants of the prisoners, the soundtrack helped create an epic feel that only drove the action forward and took the overall mood of the film to new heights.

Plot

Despite fantastic storytelling and good dialogue, there were a few holes in the film’s story. How did Batman get back to Gotham after escaping the prison? Why didn’t Bane steal the second Bat when he broke into the Applied Sciences wing of Wayne’s corporation?

But it was the plot twists in the film that shone through some of the more questionable areas, making the story interesting and keeping audiences on their toes. Whether it was Talia Al Ghul stabbing Batman and admitting to her real identity, to the software patch on the Bat, the story proved to us time and time again that not everything was what it seemed. And the way current political undertones reached the plot became fascinating as well, considering the events and sentiments running through our society today. Regardless of how one might feel about the 99 and 1 percent protest of Occupy Wall Street, it did take center stage in an extreme form in The Dark Knight Rises, suggesting an alternate reality that was both foreign and all too understood by viewers. It was eerie, it was twisted, and boy was it compelling.

3 Things That Could Have Been Better

Bane

I’m not a major follower of the Batman comics, but I do know enough to know that Bane is one of the more infamous villains in the Dark Knight’s universe. He is, after all, the man who broke Batman’s back.

So why did I feel like Bane was less villain and more lackey in the film?

He didn’t have the same psychological depth as the Joker, yet they kept trying to make him into just that. The shoe didn’t fit. Sure, he’s smart, but he’s known for his brawn, making the whole mastermind thing a tad unbelievable, even for a comic book character. And while he might have been under the orders of a higher member on the chain of command, they still tried to make him into a devious, evil genius who was willing to use both his muscle and mind to bring Gotham to its knees.  He was sinister enough, but I wasn’t quite as wowed by him as I was the cold and evil nature of the Joker.

And maybe I’m being a bit nitpicky here, but the confrontations between Bane and Batman were somewhat anticlimactic, somewhat lacking in the grandiose and epic feel inherent in the meetings of most classic heroes and villains.

And that voice…it was the opposite of menacing. Like Sean Connery on a ventilator.

Overall, Bane worked well, but I wasn’t as drawn to him throughout the story, and he became somewhat mundane after a while.

Not Enough Gordon, Too Much Blake

It’s been said that the Dark Knight Rises is barely a Batman film due in part to the fact that Batman himself only makes an appearance a handful of the time. In the context of the film, his absence worked, but it was a shame that they continued this trend with the iconic Commissioner Gordon, who spent a majority of the film in a hospital bed after suffering gunshot wounds in Bane’s underground lair. Gordon is a compelling and interesting character who coincides well with the story and could have added some depth and hope to an otherwise gloomy plot.

Instead, we were treated to more than our fair share of the development of John Blake’s character, do-good police officer who took center stage over Gordon for nearly the entirety of the game. Blake was interesting enough in that he sympathized with Bruce Wayne and was an all-around hero character, but his existence left a bad taste in my mouth, as he was clearly such a big part of the film to help usher in the imminent Robin-centered sequel headed our way. He didn’t have the same gritty, tormented heroism that makes Bruce Wayne so compelling, and his gung-ho boy scout nature left him feeling a bit too spotless for a Nolan film. I wonder if he might have been better off with a less prominent role in the story.

Chemistry

There was none. Sure, Bruce and Selina ended up together at the end, but why? I never got the sense that they really cared for each other outside of some weird lust/interest between the characters of Batman and Catwoman. And even then, it seemed like they were interested in each other moreso because of intrigue than actual attraction. This might have been better solved with more building on the character of Selina Kyle and the relationship between herself and Bruce.

And I’m still trying to figure out how randomly meeting outside of Wayne Manor in the rain led to a night of passion by the fireplace with Talia Al Ghul. But, staying true to the nature of characters in Nolan’s films, I suppose that’s just another part of the mystery.



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