Today’s Movie Review – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Note: I’m backdating this a bit just so it falls more inline with when I actually saw the movie. As I see more movies this summer, I’m going to try to do this more often. Thanks for reading!

After seeing the title movie three times within 8 days of its release, I think that I can write about my thoughts on the movie. In short: The Dark Knight Rises is probably my favorite movie of the past 18 months or so. I included The Dark Knight in my list of my favorite 20 movies last year, and it would really take a lot for its final sequel to replace it on the list. After watching TKDR three times in theaters, I still think Dark Knight is the better movie, but it is not by leaps and bounds as I thought the first time I saw it.

The last Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy opens with a plane hijacking and the introduction of Bane, the film’s antagonist. We return to Gotham City to find it without Batman and Bruce Wayne in seclusion in Wayne Manor. Things are going great in Gotham, with hundreds of criminals in jail because of the Dent Act and its affect on organized crime. There truly is no need for the Batman, which is fine by Alfred. Only when Commissioner Gordon ends up in the hospital after a subterranean encounter with Bane does Batman get back to business. Batman fights Bane, Bane breaks Batman. Batman goes away. Bane blows up the football stadium.* Batman fights Bane again. Lots of other stuff happens. If you really want to know the main plot points, go watch the movie. I wanted to keep my review as spoiler-free as possible in case you haven’t had a chance to see the movie yet. But I assure you the movie is pretty awesome.

*How cool would it be if the Steelers played a game this year wearing the Gotham Rogues uniforms? Just saying.

The thing that stood out for me was the performance of Tom Hardy as Bane. You do not see his entire face throughout the movie; he always has the mask on. Yet Hardy is able to show plenty of emotion just by the expression of his eyes and other gestures. Like Heath Ledger‘s performance as The Joker in TDK, he stole the show as the villain in a movie about Batman, and redefined what I thought about Bane. The Bane from the cartoon or previous Batman movies was always some muscle head hopped up on venom. Hardy’s Bane had emotion and a reason for being the way he was. While I have some slight quibbles with his ability to control folks (it was never really developed how his touch or influence controls people), maybe it was just his dynamic personality.

Anne Hathaway is more than just a pretty face as well, bringing some real character to Selina Kyle/Catwoman. It wasn’t as campy as the Michelle Pfeiffer version from Batman Returns, and she wasn’t all over the place trying to justify a Catwoman spin-off. She had a motivation to her action, and seemed genuinely shocked by her actions at one point in the movie. It was a nuanced performance, and her ability to go back and forth between the character’s two sides was definitely a positive to the performance.

I hope that this movie gets a little more love when the Oscars come around, especially after the previous Dark Knight movies garnered a total of nine nominations, most of which were technical nominations like sound editing. And aside from Ledger’s win posthumously for supporting actor and sound editing for TDK, I really think the trilogy should be better represented when it comes to Oscar. I don’t expect a run on awards like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King did in 2004, but a nomination for Nolan, Hans Zimmer for the music, and maybe a supporting nod for Hardy and/or Hathaway, as well as some of the technical awards similar to TDK. Guess we’ll find out early next year.

Though I have seen the movie three times, I would gladly watch it one more time in theaters if there is someone out there who has yet to see it. Even though I have seen it, and know what is coming up, I still fight back tears at a couple of places during the movie. And while I am sad to see Nolan’s trilogy come to an end, I was glad that it was able to go out on a high note as it did. I just wonder how long it will be before they decide to reboot things or find another story to tell in the Batman universe.

Until next time…

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