This month I am taking care of my Blindspot entry early. This is the series where we watch a classic we have never seen before and give our thoughts on it. I have already done Blade Runner, Tron and now we look at The Dark Knight Rises. Yes my friends, today I saw Dark Knight Rises for the first time. I’m probably one of the few Americans who can say that!
The reason why I was hesitant to see it was because I didn’t really care for Dark Knight (I know shock. Ah, horrors, I have no taste!). It was too cynical, violent and frankly creepy for me. It was dominated by a mesmerizing villain and I don’t like stories about villains. I like stories about heroes. So I was reticent to see the final installment and then the Colorado Shooting happened and it put me over the edge. You can read my thoughts on that day here.
I quoted my cousin who said:
“How about the very movie that was showing in the theater where the shooting took place?! I know The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the Summer, but I walked out because of how intensely violent I felt it was and the ruthless killer Bane was dark and evil. After 20 minutes I went back in because I didn’t want to feel left out… (wish i would have chosen differently now.) i know its bold to say, but we cannot keep watching this violence on screen and expect to be exempt from it in real life!”
I admit I have become a bit more immune to these things than back then but the violence in Dark Knight still bothered me when watching it a few weeks ago.
So that’s all kind of background to my viewing experience today. And…
I have to be honest- I liked The Dark Knight Rises a lot more than I thought I would. Why? Well, at its core is a message of hope that a city can rise up and confront evil. In the Dark Knight, on the other hand, the most noble soul turns into the villain. It’s the opposite message. Everyone, even Batman has an angle and isn’t that different from the Joker after all.
That’s not to say it is perfect but I did enjoy the viewing experience a lot more. I know I’m unique in that but I’m not writing these reviews to tell you what you want to hear but what I truly believe.
So basically the plot in Dark Knight Rises is Bruce Wayne is blamed for the death of Harvey Dent, who is looked at as a hero. He goes into hiding for 8 years. Bane, a masked beast of a man, played by Tom Hardy is on a mission to remove corruption from Gotham by removing what he see’s as injustice. Injustice with the government, wealth, commerce and everything else.
Bane is trained by Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins (who trained Batman) and he is also on a mission to kill Batman who killed Ra. Bane tricks Catwoman Selina Kyle to get Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints and he stages a takedown of the stock exchange destroying Bruce and Wayne Enterprises.
The plot does get pretty convoluted at that point but Alfred resigns (and is missing most of the movie), Lucius becomes involved, Commissioner Gordon is hunting down Bane as best he can and we get to meet John Blake who is essentially a Robin-type story. There is also Wayne Board Member Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard who wants to see a fusion reactor produced for energy but Bruce fears it could get into the hands of people like Bane.
Bane tries to stage a type of Marxist revolution killing off the powerful and rich while manipulating the common people with fear. This is in the end is not effective when many people fight back (literally in a type of battle) and Batman pays the ultimate price. The film leaves us with the message “a hero can be anyone”
One of the things that bothers me about most Batman movies is Batman is always the most boring person in the film. Dark Knight Rises is an interesting situation because he is not really the lead character. The City of Gotham is the lead, and its transformation is what is compelling.So basically Batman Begins is about Bruce becoming Batman. Dark Knight is about the Joker and the power of evil and corruption. Dark Knight Rises is about the City of Gotham and it finding its hope again.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems in the film. Batman is in the film too little and there are probably too many scenes of Bruce watching the action in prison. Also it can be difficult to understand what Tom Hardy is saying with that mask on. There are also other plotholes like his speedy recovery with a leg brace from a debilitating injury but it’s a comic book movie. I guess I expect that kind of heroics in a comic book movie. I don’t watch this genre for gritty realism. And in reality there are plotholes in Dark Knight whether people chose to acknowledge them or not.
I’m not saying Dark Knight Rises is a masterpiece. I don’t know if I feel that way about any superhero movie outside of The Incredibles; although there are many I enjoy. I’m just saying I appreciated the change in tone from the previous installment.
I also loved Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. She was confident, sexy, and smart. Her performance certainly wipes the bad taste out of my mouth from Halle Berry’s Catwoman. That’s for sure! I thought she was really entertaining.
Miranda Tate while fine was more of an average character, and I don’t know that I completely buy her big reveal at the end. It feels a little cheap to me. Nolan didn’t need to make everything in all 3 movies tie up in a perfect bow. We even see Scarecrow in a cameo during the sentencing scene. That wasn’t really needed.
Also many of the other characters are relegated to bit roles. Alfred has very powerful moments but then is missing for most of the movie. Gordon we don’t see enough of , as well as a number of other characters.
As far as Bane goes I found his political motivations to ‘share the wealth’ kind of interesting but like I said he is tough to understand at times and is a little one-note. The fight scenes are intense but perhaps because I wasn’t as creeped out by Bane as Joker they didn’t bother me as much as the violence in Dark Knight.
If I’m honest you do kind of tell this was the B storyline that they had to use with Heath Ledger’s passing but I still think it turned out very well.
Dark Knight Rises feels like a comic book movie and not a crime drama. That said, having seen how the story ends I do appreciate the Dark Knight much more than I did before (it might not sound like it but it is true). I can now see the story as a true trilogy and the hopeful ending does make the middle violence a little more palatable. It is almost better to think of the 3 films as one long movie and not 3 separate stories. Of course the direction is well done by Nolan with beautiful cinematography from Wally Pfister and terrific score from Hans Zimmer. I don’t think Nolan has made a technically bad movie yet.
You could definitely make an argument that Dark Knight Rises is self-indulgent at its 165 minute time and there are definitely lags but over all I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Chop this one up to low expectations if you want.
There’s hope for Gotham and that makes me happy!
Overall Grade- B