As both a film in & of itself and the finale to The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises
is not perfect by any stretch. But thankfully, the movie’s flaws are not enough to hold it back from being a satisfying conclusion to one of the best cinematic sagas of our time.
What makes the film a worthy conclusion to the trilogy despite a large number of flaws is its deft handling of Bruce Wayne and his character development. One of the core components of Batman’s character, throughout his entire history, is his inability to move on from grief; his entire motivation stems from the trauma of watching his parents killed in front of him after all. At the start of TDKR, despite retiring from being Batman, he is now unable to move on from the events of The Dark Knight, particularly Rachel’s death. While Bane’s arrival in Gotham sets Bruce back onto his role as the city’s guardian, it seems that he is searching for death more than anything, something noted more than once by Alfred. It is only after he has been trapped in an (almost literal) hell-hole for months while seeing Gotham being torn apart by Bane’s faux-revolution that he truly becomes The Batman once again (the parallels between Bruce’s escape from the pit and his falling into the caverns under Wayne Manor in his youth, the moment that spawned his fixation on bats, are noted in the film).
While not quite as strong as those in the preceding two films, the performances are generally quite good. Christian Bale offers his best showing as Bruce Wayne; not only does he perfectly display the despair holding Bruce back in the world, but he also perfectly captures his triumphant third-act resurgence. TDKR also arguably features the finest performances by Michael Caine & Gary Oldman as Alfred & Jim Gordon, respectively. Both characters are dealing with a large amount of guilt for their actions in The Dark Knight, and the occasionally heartrending performances, particularly from Caine, results in their story-lines, to say the least, really hitting home. Morgan Freeman is good but unremarkable in his final performance as Lucius Fox, while the additions to the cast are a mixed bag. Tom Hardy is strong in the role of Bane, with physical vigor and deceptive charisma shining through the awkward sound editing on his voice. Selina Kyle serves a nice change of pace from Bruce’s other love interests, and Anne Hathaway gives her all to the seductively charming femme fatale. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does his best with the role of Detective John Blake, despite the character being underwritten, while Marion Cottilard’s performance as Talia Al Ghul/”Miranda Tate” underwhelms, particularly after the truth about her character is revealed.
Equipped with by far the series’ largest budget and with Nolan now a far more experienced director, The Dark Knight Rises features easily the best staging in the series, particularly in the action scenes. The wide scale of Gotham, excellent framing, and the abundant back ground characters, blend into a film with the epic and sprawling scope it clearly desires. Despite being strong in the visual department, The Dark Knight Rises is riddled with narrative flaws that hold it back greatly. The attempted class warfare commentary proves more or less irrelevant, several characters come across as superfluous, Talia’s characterization falls flat, and in general the movie just seems too stuffed for it’s own good. Regardless, the ending doesn’t disappoint, providing heavy-hitting emotion and remaining true to one of the key themes of the trilogy (Batman is more than just a man, he’s an eternal symbol who anyone could be).
While definitely the weakest entry in the trilogy and in general a lesser effort for Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises is a well-made, visceral finale to a epic saga that will be remembered for a long, long time.
Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Stars
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