The Dark Knight Rises Review (no spoilers)

The Dark Knight Rises elevates the previous installments.

Bruce Wayne might disagree, but there is no point where this movie feels long. Watch the other two movies prior to watching The Dark Knight Rises to see how many aspects, even subtle things from the previous two films, foreshadow this finale. Passing lines the Joker says in The Dark Knight, advice from Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins, borderline forgettable moments from the prior films - all become deeply philosophical and visually thematic elements to the overall saga. The Dark Knight Rises manages to do something that is truly an accomplishment in a film series; it elevates the previous installments.

Every artist in this film truly dedicates themselves to the material. Wayne's pain is tangible, even the "torture of his soul." Catwoman's and Commissioner Gordon's moral dillemas are understandable, yet damning. Bane is truly disturbing. Your heart breaks for Alfred. The physical dedication that Mr. Bale, Mr. Hardy, and Ms. Hathaway put into their roles are as impressive as the effect work of the bat-gadgets brought to life. The script is intricate; the acting is excellent; the execution is suburb.

Script/Story

Mr. Goyer and the Nolan brothers have put out a three part epic that they truly deserve credit for making into art. Bill Finger and Bob Kane's unmatchable character has been re-imagined and deepened by writers Denny O'Neal, Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Chuck Dixon and many others, yet this film's telling of the story is as artistic and original as it is intricately referencing and respecting of the source material on even the most minor of details. The film earns any change or stretch to the original print versions. The rich emotional, psychological, tactile, sociological and elemental palette these men have brought to bear is as potent as classic films like Lawrence of Arabia. Truly worthy of the overused term "epic."

Performances

As with the first films, the supporting cast is what makes this world of Gotham work. New supporting actor Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a good avatar for us the viewers in this chapter. Mr. Cain will make you want to cry. Mr. Oldman again serves as an excellent character for story exposition, and is still visually, and in personality, absolutely perfect for Gordon. Perfect. There is an excellent cameo in the "peoples court." Mr. Bale brings a surprising amount of emotion to the Batman. This is one of the unique, and uniquely valuable, takes on the Batman character, in film or print. You simply want his suffering to end! Mr. Hardy had arguably the most difficult task in following the Joker. As an actor how can you follow the Joker?! The portrayal of Bane was truly disturbing. It wasn't so much the nails-on-the-chalkboard, grating-on-your-nerves disturbing like the Joker was, but more of a physically-massive-creep-watching-your-child-play, telling-you-he-enjoys-it kind of disturbing. The voice was sometimes hard to understand, but the voice grew further and further from comfort. Mrs. Hathaway was the casting choice I was most concerned about prior to seeing Rises, not because of her so much, but because I have a very specific concept in my mind of who and what Catwoman is. She nailed it. She seemed to understand the character as well as any actress or writer in any rendition I've experienced. I couldn't have thought of an improvement to make in her portrayal.

What Fan's Want

Continuing the strength of the previous films, there were moments that just had to be shown. Visual moments that scream to make it to film. (Think Bane vs. Batman and what do you immediately picture). Just like the batsignal scene between Gordan, Dent and Batman in Dark Knight, Rises has some moments and even characters that have waited a long time to be done or at least be done right.

There are so many elements from the Batman world, its history and its imagined potential futures that were included to a surprising degree. Obviously Knightfall, Dark Knight Returns and even some Batman Year One when it came to Catwoman's storyline, but there were elements of No Man's Land, Long Halloween, Batman Beyond, Kingdom Come and even Batman the Animated Series.

Bane's and, as previously mentioned, Catwoman's characterizations were right on point. Bane's need for justified "honor" or defense of his behavior as being born out of innocence felt very true to the comments. His condescending and rationalizing were very reminiscent of his comic counterpart, and was refreshingly not a rehash of the Joker's rationalizing his own view of society and chaos.

What Fan's Don't Want

While the John Blake is no Rachel Dawes (Who the heck is Rachel Dawes?!?), his final role in the film serves to confuse. Why did the writers feel the need to include imagined characters whose story purpose could just as easily have been served by a character existing in original comic continuity. Some might argue that makes the story more original and less of a rip off. Rather than the camp of; reference as much of the source material as closely as possible. It seemed many minor details seem arbitrarily changed. Why do they called bad dude money man John Dagget instead of Roland Dagget? Mixing characters sometimes has to occur in films, but to mask the direction from the audience for the sake of a later shock value becomes shock for its own sake. At least in Rises there is at least one character reveal that manages to stay true to the comics, while simultaneously developing the story's complexity.

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