This will contain several major spoilers so if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight trilogy yet, then A) What are you doing with your life? B) Don’t read on.
In the words of Ledger’s Joker, let’s wind the clocks back. Let’s wind them back to the time when The Dark Knight Rises hit cinemas for the first time. The anticipation was huge thanks to the incredible success of The Dark Knight. We had months of sensational trailers and it finally came to our big screens! The reviews were overwhelmingly positive from critics and audiences alike. They called it an ambitious, spectacular and very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. No one said that it was better than The Dark Knight, but no one expected it to be. Bane was hailed as a brilliant villain, although not as interesting as The Joker, but who is?
So why on Earth is everyone slagging it off now? It’s been called the worst film Christopher Nolan has ever done and one of the worst superhero movies ever. People endlessly pick holes with the plot, with the biggest question being “how did Bruce Wayne get to Gotham in time?” and Bane is slagged off as a limp villain thanks to the surprise ending and Tom Hardy’s peculiar voice. However, I whole-heartedly disagree with all these points. When I first saw The Dark Knight Rises on the big screen I felt elated. It was the most intense movie experience I had had since Black Swan and to me it was as close to flawless as a film can get. I still believe that, and I even prefer Rises over The Dark Knight.
To me the trilogy is like a three course meal. Batman Begins is the soupy starter. This is proper high-class soup which satisfies your taste and gets you all warmed up for the main course. The Dark Knight is the main course and is arguably the best part of the meal. It’s big, meaty and blows the starter out of the water. It’s completely satisfying and leaves you wanting to experience it all over again. The Dark Knight Rises is the desert. It’s as good as the starter, but in a completely different way. It’s also the perfect way to end the meal, leaving a sweet taste in your mouth. To me, The Dark Knight trilogy is the best trilogy ever made.
It might be worth pointing out that I’m generally not a fan of superhero films. I watched X-Men: First Class the other month and just did not understand the appeal of it at all. So perhaps The Dark Knight Rises is a bit of a disappointment to superhero fans. After all, Christopher Nolan’s vision is dark and realistic. It feels more like an adult crime/thriller than a piece of family entertainment. Batman does also take a back seat in Rises, and the story becomes much more about Bruce Wayne. This doesn’t bother me at all, I absolutely love the long build-up of Bruce Wayne slowly bringing his alter-ego out of the closet (not in a gay way) as it makes you feel the weight of the suit. The idea of Batman’s biggest threat coming at a time when he’s at his weakest is incredibly appealing.
Talking of enemies… Bane gets a lot of stick for some reason. Personally, I love what Tom Hardy does with the voice. It’s strange, unconventional and a little bit creepy. In fact, the scenes where Bane has a monologue are the best scenes in the film as there’s a kind of hypnotic quality to them. I think it’s brilliant to have a villain who is a complete contrast to The Joker. Bane is not only physically superior, but he’s a match for Bruce’s intelligence too. He’s a man with a plan, as opposed to The Joker who was just blowing up stuff for a laugh. Furthermore, Bane manages to do what The Joker never did. Halfway through the film my jaw was on the floor because I was watching a superhero film where the villain wins! There’s a fantastic atmosphere of dread and hopelessness throughout the film because Bane beats Batman and destroys most of Gotham.
Some say that the twist sucks because it reveals Bane as some lovesick puppy and not the badass mastermind he’s been made out to be. However, this just makes me appreciate the Nolan brother’s writing even more. They haven’t just created a cardboard cutout villain, they’ve created a real character who runs much deeper than he first appears. In regards to the much mocked death scene, yes it is a little underwhelming but let’s not forget what Liam Neeson said in Batman Begins, “Death does not wait for you to be ready! Death is not considerate or fair!” All of the deaths in The Dark Knight trilogy follow this rule, so why should supervillain Bane be treated any differently?
People also tend to bang on about various plot holes, but all of them can be explained if you use your imagination a bit. How did Bruce get back to Gotham? It’s never stated where the pit is, he’s a renowned billionaire so he could’ve easily flew over or summoned his new fancy Bat plane. Who’s to say that he ever returned at all? Perhaps the entire finale is one big wishful thought. I know it’s unusual for a blockbuster to make you think, but this is Christopher Nolan. He has somehow managed to bring the intimacy and intelligence of art-house/indie cinema to multi-million blockbusters so not everything is going to be spelled out to the audience.
People seem to be so hung up on these plot holes that they forget just how extraordinary the film is. Christopher Nolan’s direction is superb. The majority of action scenes nowadays are filmed from every angle with quick-cuts and a frantic shake to make sure that the audience can’t see what’s going on. The entire last half hour of The Expendables is one big fiery blur because the directing is just appalling! Even Christopher Nolan fell for this with some of the action sequences in Batman Begins. Thankfully he’s learnt from his mistakes and is now the master of shooting action. He only films from one or two angles so that we can really get involved with what’s going on. It’s so much more intense, and it also helps that it’s all done for real with little CGI.
The plane heist is a seriously spectacular opening and it’s filmed with a fantastic sense of scale which leaves you breathless. I can’t help but get chills when Bane says, “Oh yes, the fire rises” and Hans Zimmer’s epic score kicks in as we see Bane completely hijack the plane. Talking of the score, Bane’s chant is one of Hans’ best. When the film’s over it’s still ringing in your head and it’s the perfect musical embodiment of Bane. It’s loud and threatening. Hans Zimmer always does his best scores when working with Christopher Nolan. His latest score in Interstellar is probably the best he’s ever done, which is saying a lot.
Rises is also the most emotional of the trilogy. The finale is very intense and certainly sets your pulse racing. There’s definitely a sense that Batman won’t save Gotham, thanks to how unpredictable the film is throughout. I also love the much-debated ending which plays on the idea of dreams and again leaves it up to the viewer to answer. Some of the best scenes in the film aren’t just the eye-popping ones such as the stadium blowing up, but the smaller ones too. Michael Caine’s goodbye for example is incredibly powerful and one of the best scenes in the film. Rises really does soar during its exhilarating action scenes though.
So there you have it! The Dark Knight Rises isn’t just a good film, it’s a downright mesmerising one. It’s superb in every department including: directing, writing, acting, editing and music. It has a grand sense of scale, yet it also crucially cares about its ensemble of characters. The film has a lot of heart to spare too and injects a lot of emotion. Can we please lay off it now? It’s as close to flawless as a film can be. A film that’s almost three hours in length is bound to have a few problems, but the problems here are so minor they’re not worth mentioning. Besides there’s so much more good about it than bad, so let’s enjoy it.