The movie that everyone has been waiting for might not be the same movie that everyone wants. The Dark Knight Rises brings about a logical conclusion to the trilogy, but feels too much like it’s just going back to where everything began.
After the death of Harvey Dent, Batman (Christian Bale) has become the villain. Eight years later, Bruce Wayne hobbles around his mansion, living the life of a recluse. When Bane (Tom Hardy) arrives in Gotham, the relatively crime free city is brought to its knees. Bruce decides that only Batman can save the city, and he finds unlikely help with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar. As the citizens of the city rise up against the rich and powerful, Batman, using the help of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and new detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), must find the strength to defeat Bane.
A lot of this film seems like a retread of the first film, Batman Begins. There, Bruce Wayne had to find a way to overcome his fear and use it against the criminals. With Bruce’s body deteriorating, he must once again find a way to embrace his fear to defeat the villains. Bringing the story full circle is a logical way to end the series, but that means going back to an installment that I wasn’t personally fond of. It doesn’t help that Batman is broken and defeated from the start. He must use a motorized brace on his leg, and his doctor informs him that he has no cartilage left in his knees, elbows, and shoulders. It’s a bit sad to see the great Batman reduced to a mere mortal. That’s what is so great about superheroes. They don’t fall apart, they’re always strong. Of course, they always have something to overcome to remain the victor, but watching your favourite hero reduced to a cripple is disappointing.
As Batman struggles to become the feared force that he once was, the city (and the film) falls apart around him. Bane inspires the lower class citizens to rise up against the rich, a move that brings to mind so many social issues we actually face now. Although it has been said that this wasn’t the intention, it’s impossible to watch without thinking of the Occupy movement. It doesn’t feel right for some reason. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just doesn’t fit what has come before in the series. Almost every character story falls to the side in favour of scenes of huge crowds of people blowing stuff up.
We learn nothing of Catwoman or why she has a younger girl at her side. This actually fits the idea of the character I have from the comic, but without even the smallest explanation in the film, it doesn’t make any sense. Bane suffers even more. For the Joker, the fact that we knew nothing about him was what made him so scary. With Bane, we do learn a few very small details. That only leaves you wondering about him even more. With no insight, he comes off as a frighteningly powerful figure. With the things we do learn about him, he could become something different, but we never get enough to really make a decision. It’s as if they started with a strong character and left us with nothing by the end.
Michael Caine does an incredible job with the tiny moments he gets as Alfred. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t more for him to do here. The same goes for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He gets a bit more time, and there is a feeling through the entire film that there’s more to his character than you would think. Gary Oldman doesn’t fare as well as Commissioner Gordon. He seems old and tired through the film, as if he’s become something of a joke. The character has a few moments towards the end, but it seems too little, too late. Much like watching a broken Batman is a bit sad, an old and tired Commissioner Gordon is the same.
The entire film just ends up lacking any sort of punch. There were so many great visual moments in the last film that aren’t here now. There really isn’t any strong, striking images. It seems as if the film is as tired as Batman has become. For a series that has been so strong before, a mediocre film is a huge disappointment. On its own merit, the film isn’t really that bad. In the grand scheme of a trilogy that contained some of the best superhero films around, a good film just doesn’t cut it. I can’t help but thinking of the original Star Wars series. A great start, an incredible middle, and a mild finish. The final moments at least have my interest up for where things will go. It’s just too bad that the middle couldn’t truly capture my imagination.
Under the marquee – Will