Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) is one of the summer’s most highly anticipated movies, and with that kind of excitement and expectation, Nolan’s burden is to not fall short of expectations. With me, he failed.
While I was disappointed, I did not completely dislike the movie. The acting was engaging, and none of the characters felt out-of-place. Each actor fulfilled exactly what was needed in their roles. Tom Hardy as the unstoppable Bane was perfectly intimidating and was an excellent counter to the anarchical Joker of the previous movie. Bane actually has a plan even though his motivations seem to be cloudy at parts.
New also to the Nolan Batman franchise is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, who plays the character perfectly and goes through the largest transformation of any of the characters in a considerably short period of time. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman all reprise their respective roles with Nolan adding Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (both from Inception) to the cast and, of course, Christian Bale as the Dark Knight himself.
The story is convoluted and self-important. First, Nolan takes on too many themes for a regular drama let alone a movie that is based on comic books. 2008’s The Dark Knight had a number of themes but the primary overarching one was unmistakably civilization and order versus anarchy and chaos, or simply Batman versus the Joker. Conversely, TDKR deals with far too many hot-button current event themes such as the Occupy movement, terrorism, social responsibility, etc.
Yet, the important question of what the main theme of the story remains unclear.
The execution of the movie also left much to be desired. There were too many contradictory plot points. One glaring example is the constant reminder that the city of Gotham is enjoying low crime and is in “peace time.” Yet, the eventual anarchy that ensues seems to be supported by the average citizen of Gotham, not just the criminals. What does a regular citizen have to be angry about? Where does this unrest come from? This question and others throughout the film are never addressed.
Another issue is the excessive inclusion of monologues or lectures from many different characters. A small amount of moralizing I can handle but as soon as a character (and many of them do it) starts preaching about this or that in the middle of an action scene it takes the viewer out of the moment. Ask any cop, firefighter or hockey coach for that matter who faces stressful or intense situations how often they have time to sit back and start discussing the big picture? That’s what intermissions are for! “Wait this bomb is going off in a minute lets now stop to discuss how we all care for each other.” If only.
Overall, TDKR is a disappointment when compared to Nolan’s two previous Batman movies. TDKR takes on too much and attempts to be ‘epic’ but loses its focus. There is a lot of good stuff in TDKR but if you’re expecting another The Dark Knight you may be disappointed.