365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Prestige) last chapter in his Batman franchise is the exciting, but imperfect The Dark Knight Rises. This is an excellent movie and successfully concludes the best trilogy that I've ever seen. If you go in with the idea that it's going to be better than The Dark Knight, you are going to be disappointed. With Hedge Ledger's to die for performance as the Joker, The Dark Knight is as close to a perfect movie as you are going to get. It probably forever holds a place on my Top 10 Movies of All-Time list. The Dark Knight Rises is very ambitious, probably a little too ambitious. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, you'd think they have plenty of time to tell its story and conclude the franchise, but there is so much to the story and rushing its development and racing to its conclusion would not have resulted in a successful movie. This is one of those movies where a review such as mine won't persuade you to see it or not see it. You most likely have it in your head that you will either definitely see this movie or definitely not see it. So why do I write it? Because I made a commitment to myself to review every movie that I believe will be in my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I am very, very confident there will not be ten other movies released in 2012 that will be better than The Dark Knight Rises.

It's been eight years since we last saw the caped crusader. Batman is in retirement and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale - The Fighter, American Psycho) is a recluse. He still lives at the Wayne Manor and he still hosts "Harvey Dent Day" where Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Professional) delivers an adlibbed speech about the deceased, clean cut district attorney. Bruce's association is by name only though. He is a physical shell of his former self, needing a cane to walk. He is a beaten down and depressed man who seeks the comfort of no one. The only person who he has day to day contact with is his butler Alfred (Michael Caine - The Quiet American, The Cider House Rules). Though his name is not mentioned by name once in the movie, we know that Wayne's hibernation partially has to do with the mental and physical impact rendered to him by the Joker. The other major component of his depression is the loss of Rachel, who died when Batman made the decision to try and save Dent when he had the option of trying to save one or the other. The mental, physical, and emotional states of Bruce Wayne are important ones. He's a wreck and his outlook on life is so bleak that he cannot even leave his property. Wayne Enterprises takes a hit because Bruce is not overly actively involved and when he is involved, he regresses the company more than progresses it. The company is short on money and has had to pull back on its charitable donations. One of the organizations that Wayne Enterprises contributed money to was a local orphanage that cannot handle as many youth because of lack of funding.

When ambitious police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 50/50, 500 Days of Summer) , who seems to view Batman in a much more positive light than the rest of Gotham City, visits Wayne Manor and informs Bruce that the orphanage is no longer receiving funding, it becomes the kick in the butt that he needs. He realizes he can't just assume everything is going smoothly because of the faith he puts in those working for him. Bruce visits Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman - Seven, The Shawshank Redemption), the CEO of Wayne Enterprises to figure out why the orphanage isn't getting funding. Wayne is informed that the company has been operating at a deficit for a number of years after he decided to shut down a clean energy project that high ranking Wayne Enterprise board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard - Midnight in Paris, A Good Year) put her faith behind. Wayne decided to scrap the project when learning that the device could be turned into a nuclear bomb. Fox is also Wayne's main contact person for developing the kinds of vehicles and weapons that Batman needs to fight crime in Gotham. He is one of only a handful of people who know that Wayne and Batman are the same person.

The score for this movie was stupendous. Hanz Ziimmer has done such a great job with the score of all three movies. Perhaps the three best movies I've ever seen in terms of the final scene rolling into the credits are Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. You sort of sit with anticipation as the movie the movie is coming to its conclusion because you know how awesome the music is going to be as the credits roll through. There are some great scores out there including The Last of the Mohicans, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, and The Terminator just to name a few, but the music for this franchise truly is in a class by itself. Very rarely do I really reference the score, because I don't really know what I'm talking about, but this is one of those times that it has to be mentioned. In this case, this paragraph shouldn't be saved for the end either. It deserves it's spot high in the review. It adds so incredibly much to the movie experience.

The character development in this movie was incredible. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises have each succeeded because they had a unifying theme, but were so different as individual pieces. I'm not sure Bale will get the credit he deserves on this last film. He really made it work. There was much work to be done to make us believe that this overly-confident, playboy billionaire could become a person who we could feel such pity for. This could not be done quickly. It had to take time. And Bale/Nolan did just that. Caine deserves credit here too. Though he had fewer seasons in this one than the other two, his emotions pour out of him as he tells Bruce how important he is to him and how much it pains him to see him so depressed. When Batman does return to form, we better understand what he has gone through and his reasons for getting back into the game.

The villain in this movie is Bane (Tom Hardy - Warrior, Lawless). Bane is a ruthless man, intent on holding all of the citizens of Gotham City hostage by threatening to blow up the city if anybody tries to escape. With him are his hundreds of henchmen who will do anything for him. We aren't really told why he became the leader, but we do see on multiple occasions how menacing the man is. His men are as terrified of Bane as the residents of Gotham are. He's younger, stronger, and faster than Batman. The ease with which he hurts people and the police force's inability to stop him forces Batman to come out of retirement. Bane isn't the greatest villain who has ever been in superhero movie, but he's not the worse. While he doesn't come close to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, he is much better than the giant lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man. Bane wears a breathing mask and it was so difficult to hear him speak that they had to have him do voice over for all of his scenes. It's actually fairly annoying whenever Bane speaks. But, much like the Joker, Bane is great on just being a man who, after being beat up by society, takes his revenge on anyone. Bane wants to conquer and destroy. He has no desire to be rich or to take over the world. He just wants to demolish Gotham City and all of its inhabitants.

Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs, Rachel Getting Married) is very good as Selina Kyle. She is great as Batman's adversary and his counterpart. Hathaway is awesome at everything she does so it was a no-brainer to try and get her in this movie. She's sexy and sassy. She's funny and conniving. I'm not entirely certain that this was one of the characters that was needed in this movie, but if Nolan knew early on that he could get Hathaway, then you sign her first and worry about the script later. I liked her a lot in this movie. Her character was as developed as well as Bale's or Gordon-Levitt's, but that was Nolan's fault, not Hathaway's.

Plot 8/10
Character Development 9.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 9/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing  9/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 10/10
Universal Relevance 8.5/10



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