Saturday, July 21, 2012

Film Review: The Dark Knight Rises (9/10)

It has been four long years since we last saw Batman, and he was running away, taking the blame for the death of beloved DA Harvey Dent. But we know he didn't kill him, and that act of bravery in taking the fall for a murder is the essence of the selfless heroic endeavors we come to admire about Batman. Without anyone supposedly not know that Bruce Wayne was Batman, Bruce retired and became a recluse in his mansion, allowing all his battle wounds to scar his body into a tight and frail condition. When we first see Bruce Wayne, he looks quite pathetic.

Gotham is under siege for a third and possibly final time due to the tenacious plans of Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Bane is a solider from the secret order of Ras Al Ghul, and he is not only skilled but damned determine to finish what Ras Al Ghul started to do to Gotham. The opening sequence introducing Bane is fantastic and mind boggling, and demonstrates what his team is capable of in creating havoc. He is a mysterious man wearing a face mask that gives his voice an even more menacing Darth Vader timber.  In the film, eight years has passed since the days of the Joker and Dent, and it appears that the economy has not been friendly to the city. The polarizing between the have and have nots is evident, even Wayne Enterprises is in financial trouble because of Bruce's negligence, via his self-imposed exile from humanity.

As the threat of Bane comes to Gotham, we are introduced to a very slick Selena Kale, played by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Because I still love Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman from the 90s, I wasn't sure if Anne was up to snuff, but I must declare, she did a fine job. Her agenda is hard to follow as she flip flops so often to take advantage of opportunities that would benefit her and screw anyone else. You wonder what is her back story to make her so lethal and skilled in fighting, as well as a prolific cat burglar/thief, but the film doesn't offer us that opportunity. In a plea to Bruce, to help turn Gotham city around, a young detective, Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, informs Bruce that he knows who Batman is, and that he did not believe Batman killed Harvey Dent. And along with a tough love hot discussion with his devoted old butler Alfred, that freshly opens wounds, Bruce got his mojo back and dons the mask and cape once more.

There is a foreboding sense that this is the last time Bruce will be Batman, either he would die saving city, or really retire from that soul devouring personal mission. And in an epic fight scene between Batman and Bane, it is shocking to see that not only does Bane know his true identity, but successfully beat the crap out of Batman. Through this set-up fight/entrapment, we see that Catwoman does have the ability to shed at least one tear. Learning about what made Bane is personally experienced through Bruce and the viewer ponders if it's possible that Bruce could overcome his new prison; a physical and mental prison.

As Gotham is held hostage and soon to be destroyed by Bane and company, the city's poor corrupt take over the city's rich corrupt in cold and brutal ways. Now the old rich see how dreadful it is to have no money and no power. Everyone is on the same level now, and that's scary. The process of wealth distribution is not easy or pretty, and The Dark Knight Rises demonstrates to us how ugly that world vision would be if it were to occur basically overnight. Life is not perfect as it is, but at least if someone has the will, they can try to make their dreams come true. Under Bane's new rule, it's an ugly and short-lived world. The city needs Batman now more than ever, and for the last time. The film does a fine job in connecting the dots to the previous two films in flashbacks, giving a perfect cohesion to this trilogy.

There are a lot of exiting fight scenes and explosions and chase scenes, and it's hard to come to terms that this is the last time we'll see Christian Bale as the best Batman ever, under the direction of Christopher Nolan. Leading up to the end, I felt tears forming in my eyes and fought them back, and by time the very final scene is on the screen, that's when my watery eyes dried up and a smile came on my face.

Grade: 9/10 - A

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