Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Wow! A mega-blockbuster that is actually a well-made film. The Dark Knight Rises makes The Avengers look like a Saturday-morning cartoon. This is serious epic filmmaking from one of the very best filmmakers of our time.
I know. After The Dark Knight, I said some negative things about Christopher Nolan, despite the fact than none of his films have received less than ***+ from me. The Dark Knight remains my least favourite Nolan film and the only one of his films which doesn’t get better with each viewing (which, for me, is a prime criterion for great films). In fact, The Dark Knight gets worse with each viewing. But I understand this is a very subjective opinion. The average critic thinks The Dark Knight is Nolan’s masterpiece.
My favourite Nolan film is Inception, and I don’t like The Dark Knight Rises as much as Batman Begins, the first in the Dark Knight trilogy. But I have no doubt that The Dark Knight Rises will continue to get better with each viewing and if I see it enough times it may even make my top ten of 2012. So, for me, the third film is far superior to the second. 
I am writing an extensive review of The Dark Knight Rises for the Canadian Mennonite, so I will not be able to say much here, but I do want to share a few thoughts:
The bad: Too much action of course, and too much violence of course. The scene where Catwoman tells Batman that she doesn’t share his opinion about not using guns is particularly offensive (by far the worst scene in the film, though I won’t mention what happens there), especially since it’s played for laughs. The convoluted plot has some holes in it and much of it is predictable (due in part to its similarity with its predecessors).
The good: The music, the cinematography, the intelligent screenplay, the editing and the acting (Christian Bale is at his best, Michael Caine just keeps getting better, Gary Oldman is solid, and then there are the newcomers to the series: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway. All of them were excellent but the surprise is Hathaway. I am not a Hathaway fan; at least not yet. Her performance as Catwoman may change that, especially if she also impresses me in Les Mis). Also good is the overwhelming ‘epic’ style, with lots of flashbacks and backstory and a return to the League of Shadows as the villain (focused on the character of Bane). BEST OF ALL, The Dark Knight Rises is not available in 3D and was not even filmed digitally but on old-fashioned film stock. The special effects, which are awesome, are mostly real, not CGI! Nolan, my hat is off to you.
For a discussion of the violence and politics in The Dark Knight Rises, and more, you’ll have to wait for my link to the Canadian Mennonite review. In the meantime, this dark despairing grand mess of a film gets a very solid ***+ which may get better after watching it again next week.

Here is the link to my Canadian Mennonite review:


  1. Great review!

    I agree with you about this being an fitting end to the trilogy. Chris Nolan has created one of the best trilogies. Chris Bale was at his best and Anne was great as Selina as well.

    Check out my review .


  2. Sounds worth seeing. And three cheers for the lack of 3D and limited CGI.

  3. The review in the Canadian Mennonite does a good job of pointing out key strengths and weaknesses in this film. I actually think the film has a valid point which you question: "the revolution comes with looting, chaos and kangaroo courts, seeming to imply that, unjust or not, the rich are at least better at governing than the poor." There seems to be plenty of historical justification for this point of view - especially when the poor gain their power through violence. One of the benefits of nonviolent revolution is that things like experience and order (from some of the rich) are not thrown out the window and new power is not now in the unrestrained hands of the angry and self-centred.

    For me the problem in the film is related to my main problem with comic book movies. They make the crisis so huge and dramatic that it's very difficult to watch the movie and gain any benefit from Catwoman's wisdom on the dangers of social inequality. I think we all relate much more readily to seeing small, local, particular truths that may connect to big looming crises. But comic book heroes tend not to notice those small, local moments - they need arch-villains.