Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight trilogy features some of the best acting you’ll see in any superhero franchise. Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul, Cillian Murphy as Dr. Crane/Scarecrow, and Heath Ledger’s Joker. Plus, you can’t forget about the regulars. Christian Bale is reliable as usual, delivering another fine performance. And as expected, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman all bring their A game.

The consistency of top notch acting continues in The Dark Knight Rises, as Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, and Tom Hardy join the cast. Cotillard and Gordon-Levitt deliver a pair of very solid performances, but Hathaway and Hardy  are the strongest newcomers in The Dark Knight Rises. Hathaway’s Catwoman/Selina Kyle is smooth, sexy, and dangerous. Tom Hardy brings the essential intimidating physical presence for Bane. Hardy’s Bane is intelligent and well-spoken, and his amazing performance is memorable.

He received praise as a director before Batman, but Christopher Nolan’s work for The Caped Crusader provided a tremendous boost for his legacy. As expected, Nolan’s work behind the camera is steady and precise, and the action sequences are crafty and intense.

The acting is something to admire in Nolan’s Batman films, but one reoccurring trend really annoys me. Sorry, but the bait-and-switch swerve for the main antagonists drives me nuts. In Batman Begins, Dr. Crane/Scarecrow is supposed to be the main villain, but Ra’s al Gaul is revealed as the true mastermind towards the end.

Batman battled The Joker throughout The Dark Knight, but his final face-off (no pun intended) is against Two-Face/Harvey Dent. And in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is built up as the unstoppable adversary, but Miranda Tate/Talia is the real leader and mastermind behind the League Of Shadows. So in the end, Bane just looks like another hired goon. I know I sound too nitpicky, but the “SURPRISE! I’m not the real villain!” stuff really irritates me.  

It's a tricky rating, but I didn’t go with a perfect score here. I was expecting a more complete finale, but the ending for The Dark Knight Rises is so ambiguous. The ending could easily open the door for another set of sequels, and for me, The Dark Knight Rises was just the third film in Nolan’s Batman series.

The Avengers deserves to be remembered as the best superhero film in 2012, but still, The Dark Knight Rises is another satisfying entry in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises features entertaining action sequences, a strong cast, and a fair amount of suspense. The lengthy runtime (2hr. 45min.) feels a bit tedious, but I enjoyed the sporadic “edge of your seat” thrills.

Final Rating: 7/10

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