“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.”
By. Dave LeCorre
“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.”
It’s been a four years since director Christopher Nolan released The Dark Knight, effectively turning the superhero film world on its head with a dark, twisted thriller capped off by a near-perfect performance by the deceased Heath Ledger.
It feels as if during these four years there has indeed been a storm brewing, just as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) suggests during a great scene between her and Bruce Wayne. The storm itself has been a mix of hype, expectations, and the hopes of millions of fan-boys around the world that Christopher Nolan would deliver a worthy follow-up to what has been widely considered the greatest superhero film ever made; The Dark Knight.
Being a massive Batman fan since before I can remember, I was also quick to heave massive expectations onto The Dark Knight Rises the moment the film was announced. This in turn has left me not quite disappointed, but also showed me how one person’s performance can make or break a film. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Hardy as Bane was a great casting and he does a fantastic job playing the only villain in the comics to successfully “break the Bat”, but the fact is he’s just not as fun to watch onscreen as Heath Ledgers Joker was.
That said, there is much more to this film than just the villain…
Nearly three hours in length, the film has much to say and takes its time to say it, but not once did I feel as if a scene was dragging on or that things could have been simply cut out. This is a clear indication of Christopher Nolan’s abilities as a director. In all honesty, the film had the potential to become quite a mess – there is a lot going on all at once and three new central characters are introduced, which could have been an absolute nightmare for a director trying to piece together a proper epilogue for an epic and dearly loved trilogy. One only has to look at Spiderman 3 to see how something promising could go so terribly, terribly wrong. Luckily for us there are no Batman-goes-emo-and-does-the-tango moments.
The three characters are of course Bane (Tom Hardy), Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), and rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). All three put in worthy performances as their respective characters, although perhaps Gordon-Levitt could use a few more pointers for his seemingly on and off East-coast accent. Anne Hathaway shines as Catwoman, but doesn’t manage to steal the official title from Michele Pfeiffer as Ledger stole it from Jack Nicholson. She’s everything Catwoman has to be. Sexy, sly, cunning and of course deadly, but really nothing more. Perhaps the film could have further explored her motivations and story, adding some depth to the character but at the end of the day, I’m just nitpicking. Bane himself was a great choice for the villain: a complete opposite of The Joker. Bane is smart, somewhat sane, and is nearly unstoppable physically. Once again Tom Hardy put his body through the ringer in order to fill out Bane’s massive frame (as he did in 2008’s Bronson), and the end result is spectacular – watching Bane and Batman brawl it out is truly a sight to behold.
There is plenty of action to go around, but this installation feels much more like Batman Begins rather than The Dark Knight. I say that because everything comes full circle, returning to the philosophical question asked by Bruce’s father in Batman Begins: “Why do we fall?”. The answer of course is to rise after the fall, and that is exactly what Batman has to do in order to defeat this unspeakable storm of evil that Bane has brought onto Gotham.
As with any superhero or action films, a few leaps of faith and the suspension of logic are required, and The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. I mean, how many times can a person or a group of people magically appear behind a character without them noticing? Again, nitpicking, but it’s hard to not notice the impossibility of a few of the scenarios in all three films.
The four year hype-storm has given the film expectations that it simply cannot match, and in my opinion did not match. At the end of the day The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy close to the Nolan franchise, however some might be left wanting more if they’re still hung up on The Dark Knight and what it brought to the table in terms of huge action pieces and the insanity of The Joker.