After the phenomenon that was The Dark Knight back in 2008, everyone knew that the next film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series had a lot to live up to. The question was, could it live up to the massive hype and become an equal to or even surpass The Dark Knight? The short answer is sadly no, but only barely. The Dark Knight Rises is a very good film that takes on a lot, and manages to pull off most of it, It has its problems and as a follow-up to the last film, it falls just short, but the parts that work really do work and shine above the many problems.
Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the city of Gotham is enjoying a long period of peace, and without the need for Batman, Bruce Wayne has become a sort of Howard Hughes-esque recluse. But Batman is needed again when a man named Bane threatens to destroy Gotham. I won’t go into any more of the plot seeing that at this point you’ve either seen the film and already know all this, or you haven’t and anything else would be a spoiler.
The cast of TDKR is excellent, nothing of course ever reaches the brilliance of Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, but there are no real weak links either. Christian Bale still does the good old gravely Batman voice that has become an iconic/mocked aspect of his portrayal, but here it seems much less forced than it did in the last film (though one must wonder why he still uses the voice when talking to people who know his identity, or even talking to himself for that matter), and his performance throughout the film has a lot of depth and really drives the pain his character is going through during the film. Tom Hardy as Bane is arguably the highlight of the film, he is a truly intimidating and intelligent villian who you believe could break Batman, he does an especially excellent job when you consider how much of his performance is carried through his eyes since most of his face is masked. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (AKA Catwoman, though she is never named as such in the film) really captures the femme fatale nature of the character, and is possibly the best live action incarnation of the character ever, or at the very least the most faithful. The rest of the cast is great as well, Micheal Cane is fantastic as usual, as is Gary Oldman. Overall the cast of TDKR gives it their all, and the results are fantastic.
The biggest strengths and weaknesses in the film come in the script. The story for the film is great, it has a massive scope, great characters, just great moments all around. The script, however, suffers from the typical sequel problem of being a bit too big, there are too many side stories going on at once with too many details to follow. At nearly three hours, the film still doesn’t have enough time to fully flesh out every character and every side story. But the movie works because of the strengths it has, the characters who do get developed keep you invested in the story no matter how overstuffed it becomes, and the main story is interesting and raises the stakes to the biggest extreme they could get away with.
On the technical side the movie is phenominal, the soundtrack by Hanz Zimmer hits all the right notes to fit the moment perfectly. The effects are great, due to the fact that most of it is done for real, in camera, there is very little CGI used, making everything feel that much more real, and that much more epic. Also, the cinematography is great: although action scenes have never really been the greatest strength of any Batman films, here they really work well, due to solid camera work, editing, and sound design.
In the end, The Dark Knight Rises is a very good film, great on the acting and technical level, but missing true greatness due to a somewhat sloppy script. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s one of the year’s best and definately not one that should be missed.