The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (PG-13)
There's something astonishing about Christopher Nolan's ability behind the camera that leads him to make complex and challenging works while still maintaining his reputation as the premier voice of action film making, probably recently overtaken by George Miller's return to the genre. Nolan's style and sleek screenwriting have gained praise from both audiences and critics alike.
After the staggering box office success of "The Dark Knight", Nolan created his tour de force "Inception" and in the wake of a dream heist film, we were left panting for his next treat, which turned out to be the conclusion to his Batman reboot series.
What ensued was a rather curious commercial success—tainted by the now infamous and heartbreaking shooting in Aurora—and a critical/popular disagreement. The film got good reviews but most felt that in the aftermath of two masterpieces, "The Dark Knight Rises" failed to live up to its master's potential. On this, I disagree completely.
In order to complete his trilogy in a method of expected moodiness, action, and smarts, Nolan substitutes the complexities of science with the complexities of possibly too many characters, so said Roger Ebert. I don't agree, but that's possibly because I've seen the film a number of times and I find that I'm able to follow it quite easily now.
The movie opens eight years after "The Dark Knight" ended, leaving Bruce Wayne without his alter ego Batman. Trouble is brewing as mercenaries start to storm into Gotham in order to bring the depraved city to its reckoning. The villain of the movie is Bane (Tom Hardy) who speaks in a garbled language and is as massive as a mountain.
Bruce will have to don the cap and cowl once again in order to defeat Bane and bring justice to Gotham once again.
Sounds kind of simple, doesn't it?
Well, that's where you're wrong.
Nolan and brother Jonathan Nolan, write a story that juggles so many story lines at the same time, it can be difficult to keep up with it. There's the police commissioner, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) who is trying to relieve a sense of growing doom that his own guilt is adding to for committing to a lie. Then there's Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who is a pleasant new addition to the franchise, a girl who seems to be in too deep with the wrong people. A young detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is also searching for truth while Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is vying for Bruce Wayne's money to make the world clean.
It's no wonder that the movie takes almost three hours. Of course, we have to get a few things out of the way first. Despite its sometimes campy script and plot holes based on the observations and assumptions of people, the movie is a first-class masterwork and for two reasons: Wally Pfister and Hans Zimmer. Without its visual style and mesmerizing score, this movie would not work as sensationally well as it does.
You have to remember that first and foremost, it is an action movie and should be treated as such first. Then you can start to notice that it's more of thriller, that the practical effects make it look almost perfect, and that the cast fills out to a stunning conclusion. What Nolan manages to do in juggling these story lines is nothing short of miraculous.
If in any other time, by any other person, this could not have worked.
I don't get the criticism, I don't understand it. Because unlike "The Dark Knight" which was ruled by these odd ideas but never came to an answer about any of them, "The Dark Knight Rises" finds Nolan where he likes to be best: making answers to philosophical questions and if it's in between explosions and punches to the face, then so be it.
The threads of hope and despair, pain and chaos, lying and morality—the all tie together nicely in a present to the viewer. The movie is a pleasure to watch.
Nolan draws heavily from Dickens and his sleek style is almost too good to look at; but is that a bad thing? With its final moment, Nolan puts his mark of the cinematic history of superheroes, closing out one of the best trilogies ever made with such style and poise that it makes me green with envy.
Each iteration got bigger and bigger and it takes a special level of power to be able to control it all; Nolan is that man. I may have disliked his ventures into space, but his superhero franchise will always stand up.
Posted by Micah Jones