The Opposite Sexes Rise Up to Review the Newest Batman Movie
by Jason Harris and Stacey Longo
HE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises does not advance Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise. It’s the weakest of the three movies. In his defense, it’s hard to outdo yourself when your last endeavor included Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.
The movie starts eight years after The Dark Knight with a memorial for Harvey Dent in front of Wayne Manor. Batman hasn’t been seen since the fateful night of Dent’s death and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse with a limp.
Director Christopher Nolan portrays main villain, Bane, with the right respect, unlike Bane’s portrayal in Batman & Robin. This is the character that in Batman: Knightfall, the serial that ran in 1993, orchestrated the assault on Batman, then broke his back.
Nolan chose Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to play the ex-communicated member of the League of Shadows, the organization created by Ra’s Al Ghul. Hardy was superb as Bane. He was the right size and had the right muscle mass. The only problem is you can’t understand him 90 percent of the time. Since Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay, you would think they would want their words heard and understood by the audience.
Anne Hathaway (Alice in Wonderland) dons the mask and claws of Catwoman in Nolan’s franchise. Her portrayal is right up their with Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Batman Returns. Nolan captures the character quite well. There should have been more of Catwoman, though.
Nolan’s script abounds with in-jokes such as when Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox shows Bruce “the Bat” and he tells him it does come in black. This is in reference to the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce asks Fox if “the tumbler” comes in black. It also brings the franchise full circle by mentioning Ra’s Al Ghul, who was the villain in Batman Begins. Nolan also shows scenes from the first two movies to show how his trilogy is connected. It’s just too bad the movie couldn’t have had a better connection to the greatest of the previous two movies.
SHE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises clearly draws from the very first scene of the first movie, in which Thomas Wayne asks “And why do we fall, Bruce? … So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Everything takes a tumble in this film – Commissioner Gordon’s reputation falls, Bruce Wayne has a spiritual fall, and the city of Gotham itself is set up for a fall. What’s a dark knight to do? Get up and save the day, of course. The problem is that all of these redemptions take waaaaay too long.
This movie spends too much time cutting between the looming threat of Gotham’s destruction and Bruce Wayne’s climb out of the depths of darkness, only to emerge a better man (with a hot new girlfriend in a catsuit to boot.) Anne Hathaway makes the Catwoman character all her own, and I have to agree with Jason that she could’ve used more screen time. Michael Caine (Inception) is still formidable as Alfred, but his presence is sorely missed for a good chunk of the movie. Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) and Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) are also still fantastic as Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon, respectively. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is introduced as John Blake, a troubled cop who wants to do the right thing. While his performance is fine, it’s not difficult to figure out where he fits in with the Batman legacy.
It would be hard for any D.C. Comics villain to follow in the footsteps of the late Heath Ledger’s delectable Joker, so don’t hold it against Tom Hardy that his Bane falls short. This baddie goes from terrifying to tepid in an instant once his full backstory is revealed; plus, it doesn’t help that his face gear makes him practically unintelligible. However, if it’s hand-to-hand combat and things blowing up that makes a movie great for you, this one has plenty.
Jason and I concur: three out of four stars.