Writer's note: Our thoughts go out to those involved and affected by the terrible shooting in Denver. Sadly this film will forever be linked to this horrible event. I wish all of those people the best.
For me the summer movie season is coming to a close. There are a handful of films coming out the rest of the summer I am interested in, but the ones that I was most excited for have come and gone. The last and arguably the most hyped, The Dark Knight Rises," came out this past weekend.
Before watching it, I commented to a friend that this summer had been one of the most disappointing for film in a while. From "Prometheus" to "Brave," most of the films just haven't lived up to what I wanted from them. I have to say that I feel the same way about “The Dark Knight Rises." It’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t hold up to the previous two films like I was hoping.
Director/writer Christopher Nolan is back to complete his Batman trilogy and he brings back all of the faces from the previous films. Almost everyone from the previous movies turn up either in person or via a flashback.
Christian Bale has become comfortable as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Gary Oldman has taken Commissioner Gordon from a detective to the commissioner of the Gotham PD. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine return in supporting roles as Lucius Fox and Alfred. New to the cast are Tom Hardy as the menacing Bane, Anne Hathaway as the mysteries Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake a Gotham cop. There are a couple more additions I am not even mentioning because they could be considered spoilers.
While all of the actors/actresses give great performances, one of the problems I had with the movie was the overabundance of characters. Even with a run time of 2 hours 44 minutes, it’s just too much of a task to feel involved in all of the characters. Some of them disappear for long stretches of the film. Shortening the character list would have helped the film in my opinion.
All of the characters running around really jumbles up the story. The plot is the normal superhero fodder. Bad guys are trying to take over Gotham and Batman has to come out of retirement to stop them. While “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” had very tight storylines and flowed effortlessly from one scene to the next, “The Dark Knight Rises” feels stilted and choppy. The action jumps from place to place and things aren’t always as clearly defined. I found myself asking “why are those characters doing that?” and “How did that character get there?” on several occasions and it really took me out of the film.
The movie did look great. I saw the film in IMAX and was impressed by the wide shots of Gotham City but also by the tighter shots used during fight scenes and action sequences. Nolan knows his craft and pulls you in with menacing shots of Bane and brooding shots of Batman. Sadly, Bane and Batman get far less screen time than they should.
I have to admit that I am a huge Batman fan. I have read the comics since I was just old enough to read. The Tim Burton “Batman” film from 1989 is one of my favorite films of all time. So, I judge Batman movies rather harshly. I was amazed with what Nolan did with the first two films in his Batman trilogy. I feel that he tried to aim high with “The Dark Knight Rises.” In the end he came up a little short. It’s not a bad film but it does end up being the weakest of the three. Fans of the Nolan series, Batman and comic books in general should go see it.
To recap the whole trilogy here are my grades for all three films:
Batman Begins 4 of 5 stars
The Dark Knight 5 of 5 stars
The Dark Knight Rises 3 of 5 stars