REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

Legendary
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by Christopher Nolan

For the fans in Aurora, Colorado.

Sometimes, a movie rises to become legendary. One that engages people to debate, to stay in popular consciousness long after they’ve seen it.

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a recluse in Wayne Manor, limping after being brutally hurt physically and emotionally while trying to defeat The Joker and Two-Face. Gotham enjoys relative peace thanks to the Harvey Dent Act that practically put organized crime behind bars, but at the same time blames Batman for the murder of the District Attorney. But a new terror arises that practically bankrupts Bruce Wayne, defeats Batman absolutely and threatens to nuke Gotham to the ground. His name is Bane (Tom Hardy.)

Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle), Marion Coltillard (as philanthropist Miranda Tate) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as blue-uniformed cop John Blake) join the old cast that include Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) and a few surprise appearances.

The Dark Knight Rises is a very ambitious, sprawling story about death and rebirth (to arise again) on what Batman means to the survival Gotham, even when Alfred tries to convince Bruce that Gotham needs Wayne more than Batman. Its action set pieces are quite impressive, the performances from the ensemble top-notch, particularly Hardy who manages to be domineering despite the comprehension-impairing muzzle. I enjoyed Bruce’s and Lucius’s frequent riposte and Bruce’s less-surly look than in TDK.

It repeatedly chews on existentialism, Philo 101 style: Bruce is still hurting at Rachel’s death; that according to the League of Shadows, led by Bane, Gotham should die; that Batman mentally, physically and emotionally dies before the hero rises again.

Batman’s enemies aren’t nihilistic anarchists either. Rather they employ CTRL+ALT+DEL as a principle to reorganize Gotham. Yes it’s grim and dark and sometimes a gloomy reminder of 9/11, but TDKR is less serious than TDK, which overall was about praxis vs. theory (innate good vs latent evil; hero vs anti-hero; truth vs lie.) Let’s not get into TDKR’s pseudo-Marxist subtext, it’s actually Machiavellian.

However, Nolan finally embraces the source material and in TDKR acknowledges that his ‘real world’ superhero is a man in a caped suit. For every tumble of the Batpod wheels and every explanatory speech (from everyone), we get an invisible comic-book speech cloud that winks at the audience rather subtly. In other movies with less-sophisticated dialogue this device would render the film ridiculous.

The genius of Nolan is not that he makes the smartest screenplays, it’s that he understands how he can make the audience accept what he presents – plot tangles, misplaced edit, over-scoring and all. I’m willing to forgive him, even for that one major slip of a scene 30 minutes before the end that involves a character that should not be in it. Nolan finds a way to piece his film together despite his penchant for serpentine narratives (remember Inception?)

There’s a grand order in Nolan’s chaos that seems to have been designed not to surpass the first two installments, but squarely to commemorate a pop icon that, like a scene in the long epilogue, enshrines the legend under the cape.

Here’s a well-done fan-made summary of events prior to The Dark Knight Rises:

 

The Journey:

 

I like this film better than its predecessors not for the above reasons, nor for its expected superiority (in fact, it’s less so than TDK) but for successfully concluding the trilogy in a monumentally satisfying manner – Nolan’s grandiloquent bow in creating a lasting addition to pop cinema, one that thanks its fans generously.

“Let’s not stand in ceremony,” Bane tells Batman. But stand it will, somehow. Hollywood begs for it. There is one ceremony that just maybe TDKR was intended to stand in: one that says, “Academy.”

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4 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

  1. My memory isn’t so keen, but I think the actual quote from Bane is, “We mustn’t stand in ceremony, Mr. Wayne.”

  2. Very good analysis of the movie and trilogy as a whole. I also found some parts such as the 30 minute to the end twist mildly aggravating but overall it was a spectacular end to the series.

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