Whilst I admire Chris Nolan’s dedication to explain every aspect of the plot and the rationale of his characters, the Dark Knight Rises was neither the thrill ride of the first movie nor the acting tour-de-force of his second Batman film. That said, one of things I really like about the characters in Nolan’s Batman trilogy are that they are human and rooted in humanity. There’s not a CG gargantuan or angry Shrek in sight where the audience might mentally check out as boss-fight cut-scene plays out towards the end.
His voice crackles with real heartfelt emotion and muted rage in every scene he's in.
The actors in Chris Nolan’s films act and in this regard, Michael Caine again takes the spoils in the Dark Knight Rises. His voice crackles with real heartfelt emotion and muted rage in every scene he’s in. Acting wise he dominates the screen with gravitas whenever his character is handed a speech. Unfortunately Tom Hardy is wasted as the main villain (see instead his bravura performance in Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Bronson’). In the previous Batman film, the power of Heath Ledger’s stellar performance was in his expressions, his face and his voice. Sadly in this film we can’t see Hardy’s face due to Bane’s mask (which also goes onto to interfere with his dialogue making it almost unintelligible in places). Anne Hathaway as Cat-woman is better than expected though. More calculating than schizo, but ultimately there isn’t that sense of her being ‘one tin short of a bowl of whiskers’ that was so appealing about Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn in Tim Burton’s ‘Batman Returns’. (Yes, bring back the suit, I’m with you on the suit).
As the end of the movie approaches, the social inequalities and dissatisfaction hinted felt by Gotham city’s population are never really given time. The closing choices of the characters feel rushed and unbelievable, resulting in a rehash of the previous movie’s stand-off where again the city’s fate is presented to its citizens. In the finale, the main story arc unfortunately ends up borrowing from 007’s ‘The World Is Not Enough’ with Tom Hardy effectively becoming Robert Carlisle, where (ironically) both great acting talents aren’t allowed to act, instead hemmed in by the demands of a restrictive plot.
So is it as good as ‘Batman Begins’? No. Is it as good as ‘The Dark Knight’? No. Should you see it? -Yes. For whilst it’s overlong and suffers from a lot of flaws Chris Nolan has managed to create an adult world for his cartoon characters to live in – and in so doing, redefined a genre across three movies. No mean feat.