Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, by Christopher Nolan, 2012

I probably won't say too much on The Dark Knight Rises, because there's not a whole lot left to say, and if you're like me, you probably got tired of hearing about it weeks ago. I liked it. I like most movies I see, so that's no surprise. I did have the same reservations a lot of you have had about it, though. A bit plodding, a jumbled, overly complex plot, some awkward dialogue. But I still loved the scope and ambition, and appreciated a lot of things about it. I'm just going to list a couple of observations, and then leave you to your day.

- Where was Batman? Bale had very little screen time in the Batman suit this time around. I'm no fan of his ridiculous Bat-voice, but this is a Batman movie, after all.

- Tom Hardy rocked the house as Bane. Nolan really knows how to create a memorable villain. He finds talented, creative actors, and collaborates with them, and together, they find ways to make the villain as menacing as possible, while still having a quality that reminds you of their humanity. For me, it was the way Heath Ledger's Joker always licked his lips that cemented him into a kind of reality. Bane's performance is all in the eyes, but Hardy brings a great physicality to the character, and the fun-to-mimic vocal performance was good fun. The character was under a lot of pressure to live up to the Joker, and while it didn't, it was a nice effort.

- That said, the mixing of his muffled voice into the front and center of the soundtrack was a mistake. I know everybody complained about the mixing in the preview, but they overcompensated in fixing it. I liked really having to listen to work through his accent, and I always got his intent. I don't mind working a little, but I guess the movie-going public does.

- I love Christopher Nolan's commitment to maintaining the cinematic integrity of his films. He shoots on film, uses these amazing IMAX cameras. He steadfastly resists the dreaded 3-D takeover. I would love if more directors fought back against it, but very few have the power to do so, if Spielberg and Scorsese are on board, I'm sure it's here to stay. His special effects are virtually seamless, and he uses them sparingly.

- Another thing I like about Nolan's films, is that he doesn't hold back. He throws everything into the pot. It's common practice these days to save the good stuff for the sequels. Franchise movies are often seeded with foreshadowing and hints for later entries, more often than not, entries that haven't even been conceived yet. Conversely, Christopher Nolan and company have put all of their ideas into each individual movie. This leads to big payoffs, a real sense of scope, and full arcs for his characters. Yes, it also leads to things getting a little too complicated, but I still think it's refreshing.

That's all I have to say about The Dark Knight Rises. It's a flawed beast, but it's ambitious, full of big ideas, and special in its way. Christopher Nolan has built his name up to mean a certain kind of movie, a kind that nobody else is making. Now that his Batman epic is complete, I'm eager to see what new worlds he will create under his unique brand.


  1. Thats a nice honest review Jim. I thought it was a good flick but certainly did not reach the heights of the past two Nolan Batman films. Or most of the Nolan films I have seen for that matter.
    However, such talk might get you tossed into that Pit that Bane put Bruce Wayne in. Or at the very least trapped in a sewer system that for some reason Bane does not fill with petrol and set ablaze.

    1. Thanks. I agree with you, it's a lesser Nolan, but he still swung for the fences. I was caught in the middle of a big geek discussion of TDKR last night, they all seemed fully aware of the flaws, but still willing to defend it to the end.