A lot of time and money has been invested into Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, the success of which has been the only claim to fame for DC comics, as attempts to either resurrect or launch other DC film franchises have fallen flat.
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles in The Dark Knight Rises, which picks up 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne, played by Bale, has retired from his late night escapades, which have taken their toll on his body. Commissioner Gordon, played by Oldman, is wrestling with guilt over letting Batman assume responsibility for Harvey Dent’s crimes. After an encounter with Selena Kyle played by Anne Hathaway, and the arrival of the mercenary Bane played by Tom Hardy, Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement for the biggest battle to hit Gotham City.
The film tells an engaging story that keeps you guessing up to the end credits. The dialogue is layered with subtle foreshadowing and some very clever misdirection. This film also recalls elements introduced in the first two films and ties up loose ends while still leaving room for continuation. It also takes some of the more complicated elements of Batman mythos and simplifies it to something that is easier to explain in a shorter amount of time.
This is a dense story, almost to the point that it’s overwhelming. Even for a film that clocks in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, there’s a lot that happens with the film literally covering almost an entire year of events.
As a result, there are moments in the film that make it feel like a feature-length trailer with certain scenes coming across as trailer-bait. There’s also a few jump cuts that pop up as they try to get through things quickly, sometimes it feels like an artistic choice, other times it feels like an editing mistake.
The way the film was shot always has the camera in motion. This film doesn’t succumb to the “action-film-queasy-cam,” but there’s rarely a moment where the camera is stationary for more than a second. The exception to this is during the second act, where the characters aren’t able to be as dynamic.
It was also evident that they had to use steady-cam for a lot of the shots, so there are times where the camera crew had trouble keeping the actors in sharp focus during the more action-packed scenes.
While the music is pretty good, there were times that the heavy nature of the score was overplayed. During the action scenes, having the harsh chant-like score is fine, but during the ending, I felt that they could have gone for something that was a little more subtle and allowed the audience to take a break to process what just happened.
Despite some flaws, this is great film that lives up to expectations. It brings the Batman trilogy to a satisfying end while still leaving room for continuation. It does require the viewer to have seen the previous two films in order to understand some key elements, so it’s not as accessible to the uninitiated. It is also really long, so I don’t recommend back-to-back repeat viewings. I give The Dark Knight Rises a 4 out 5.