MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises ***SPOILERS***

To start this review, I want to talk about my favorite time in the Batman comic universe. I love the Knightfall story arc that ran in the Batman family of comic books in 1993. It marked the debut of a new villain named Bane. The character was like no other we had seen as he deduced The Batman’s secret identity, used his intelligence to wear him down and then physically dominated The Dark Knight after Batman was emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.

Bane was a breath of fresh air that had never translated well to any other medium. His appearances in any of the animated Batman shows were weak and displayed DC’s fear of letting the character be who he was but then the movie “Batman and Robin” came along and destroyed the character.

With a lot of apprehension I went to the movie theatre tonight to see “The Dark Knight Rises” which presented Bane as the main villain. Would he be done justice? Will Batman yell for the location of something or someone? Will Catwoman make me think dirty thoughts?

PROS:

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman aka Selina Kyle

– The most enjoyable part of the movie to me was Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. She stole every scene she was in and I could not wait to see what she was going to do next. There was something special going on every time she was in a scene and I really felt that this was more her movie than Batman’s.

– I have to say I did enjoy Tom Hardy’s take on Bane (except for two things that irked me that will be discussed a bit later) as he was the perfect combination of intelligence and physically dominance that debuted in the comics in 1993. His strength was very apparent in any scenes that he used force and he was not the dumb , mindless brute that we saw in  “Batman and Robin.”

– I really enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Officer (Later Detective) Blake. He added a dimension that was sorely lacking in the film and really gave it balance. The tease at the end that his first name was Robin and that he was given the location of the Bat Cave ( and it’s contents) led us to believe that he would take up the mantle of Batman. It was a nice bone to throw the fans as well, that his real first name was Robin.

– The small amount of screen time that was given to Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman was not wasted at all as they both were great in the film. I really would have liked to have seen more of both Alfred and Lucius, but I will gladly take what I was able to get.

– How cool was it to see Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow for the third straight film. Even though he only had two very small parts in “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” it is the only sense of film continuity DC has successfully achieved at this time.

– It was also very cool to see Liam Neeson reprise his role as Ra’s Al Ghul. The character allowed the trilogy to come full circle since the character was the mentor and main villain of Batman in “Batman Begins.”

– Once again Gary Oldman gave a great performance as Commissioner Gordon. The man was born to play this role and once again delivered the goods in this movie. He really tapped into the bond / friendship between Gordon and Batman in this movie.

– The scene where Bane breaks the back of Batman was one I was waiting to see translated to the big screen for a long time. It was a part of the movie I was anticipating and was excited when it finally happened.

– How is it that Catwoman looked way cooler driving the Bat Pod than Batman? She looked more bad ass in this one film than Batman did in the two he drove the motorcycle.

– The incorporation of the “No Man’s Land” theme in a more fleshed out manner was refreshing. It was hinted at before in “Batman Begins” when Gotham is almost cut off from the main land but this film explored the idea much more fully.

Tom Hardy as Bane

CONS:

– I have to say the movie was way to long. It really dragged at the beginning and near the middle of the film for extended periods and I caught myself dozing off a few times. I hate to admit this but I was hoping Bane would blow up the city just so the movie would end quicker.

– The humor felt flat to me. I am not the only one to feel this way, as no one in the theatre laughed at any of the funny lines. There were a few gems that I enjoyed but they were very few and far between.

– How convient was “The Bat” aircraft? The thing was like a giant utility belt you could sit in and fly. The CGI used for the craft bugged me as I found it distracting and it broke any sense of immersion I had during the film.

– I could not make out a damn word Bane said unless he was yelling. I actually asked my brother, who was sitting next to me, what Bane had said a few times and he replied “I was hoping you would know.” I actually was wishing I could turn on some form of captioning, as Bane spoke a lot during the movie and I feel I missed out on a chunk of it.

– The M. Night Shyamalan twist ending was something I saw coming a mile away. There was no real weight to the development that Miranda Tate (played by Marion Cotillard) was really Talia Al Ghul and that she wanted to pick up her father’s plan to burn Gotham to the ground. It really did not add anything extra to the mood of the film except make Bane  a bitch to a female character for a second straight Batman movie.

– This movie is guilty of doing something that I really do not like and boy did they do it a bunch. I detest when people find out a hero’s secret identity and everyone and their dog found out Bruce Wayne was Batman in this movie. Seriously. I think that it would have been easier for Bruce to just pay for a billboard that said “Hey Guys, Bruce Wayne is Batman. Just wanna let you know.”

– The fights really seemed underwhelming to me. Batman is a trained martial artist and knowledgeable in different forms of fighting but all we saw him do throughout the movie was throw punches. Well hold on, he did kick a wall in the manor when he put the brace on his leg that let him walk again.

– How serious was Batman on getting rid of the bomb? First he, Gordan and Catwoman stood around and listened to a story by Talia that did nothing but waste time. If that wasn’t bad enough, he then kissed Catwoman for a good minute that wasted even more time. It just made me question how serious the situation was when they were throwing minutes away like that.

– I really laughed when Batman told Catwoman not to use guns or kill people. This is a character that in these films has used guns that were on his Batmobile, Bat Pod, The Bat,  that shot explosive charges and even used a rifle type of gun in this movie. He then has killed Ra’s Al Ghul and told Bane he would die as well. It just seemed comical to me that he contradicts his own rules but scolds her.

– I was not a fan of the way Bane was killed. I understand why they did it but it really just seemed like a convient way out to me. Also, why did it take Batman so long to punch Bane in the face and break his mask. If he would have done that the first time, then it would have shortened the movie.

– No mention of The Joker was very disappointing. Especially since the movie used many flash back scenes but seemed to ignore the character completely. It would have been easy to incorporate him. Hell, the scene where Alfred tells Bruce he is leaving and points out Bane’s strengths, that would have been the perfect time. He could have said:

“Master Bruce. You have taken down street thugs, members of organized crime and even a pyschaotic mad man but this Bane is different. All the others, even the Joker, you were superior physically. Not this time.” See. Voilà.

Christian Bale as Batman

MY  FINAL   THOUGHTS

I really wanted to love this movie as it did follow one of my all time favorite story arcs in comics and also contained one of my favorite villains of all time in Bane, but it left me feeling underwhelmed. The action paled in comparison to “The Avengers” and it had me wishing that something would happen to keep my interest.

There was also a lack of emotional investment for me in the film. I did not really care about any of the characters and it bothered me. “The Amazing Spider-Man” excelled in this area and even “The Dark Knight” was superb at achieving emotional investment.

The movie suffers from the same trappings of most final movies in a franchise and that it is trying to cover far more ground and introduce as many new things as possible before the movie ends. It is very similar to “Return Of The Jedi” in that regard as it has some good moments but also seemed to drag on and caused me to lose interest a few times.

A good movie to end a great film franchise but only a good movie non the less.

SCORE:    8 / 10

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About Jason Huskins

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