Talking about movies you’ve seen, while trying not to spoil anything is a difficult job. Most movies contain massive spoilers that people do no want to hear about. “The Dark Knight Rises” is definitely one of them. The third installment in Christopher Nolan’s magnificent Batman trilogy, its a movie that I could talk about for hours. Yet in order to talk about it, there has to be a spoiler discussion.
The following analysis is a spoiler filled dissection of one of my favorite movies of the year. I will be going over my problems with the film, while also pondering over what I adored about it. If you have not see it yet and want to, the subsequent review may not be for you.
“The Dark Knight Rises” opens with words of wisdom from police commissioner Jim Gordon, played by Gary Oldman. Giving a speech to the citizens of Gotham City, Gordon states that Harvey Dent was a hero and it would be some time till someone inspires us the way he did. Its a perfectly delivered line and a splendid way to begin the nearly 3 hour movie.
After this, director Christopher Nolan immediately gets the action started with the plane heist sequence. Not only is this scene one of the most exhilarating parts of the movie, its also a fantastic introduction to the movie’s main villain. Bane, who is richly portrayed by Tom Hardy, is a terrifying and intimidating antagonist. Yet he is a completely different villain from The Dark Knight’s Joker. The Joker was desperate for chaos and anarchy. Bane, in stark contrast, does not want chaos. Instead he relies on terrorism and wants to raise it over Gotham City.
The plane heist sequence begins with three men being transported in a car. They are all completely masked and muscular with handcuffs. Soon enough, the car stops in front of a plane where a man is standing. The masked men are immediately taken into the plane by the man. While the plane hovers over mountains, the man reveals that he has filed a flight plan with his agency. He also states that only one of the three men are supposed to be with him and his men (which includes Dr. Pavel). The man then proceeds in forcing each masked man to talk. Bane, one of the muscular men, is the first to speak up. His plan is to crash the plane. And he does.
Another plane with Bane’s henchmen flies over the present plane. Bane takes Dr. Pavel and transports himself to this plane. Unusual and quite cruel, he leaves his own brother on the other plane. He states that the man must stay, and the most unrealistic occurrence here is that his brother agrees. No he does not argue or fight Bane, he smiles and gleefully awaits his death.
This scene, while certainly tense and exciting, can get quite confusing for first-time viewers of the movie. Bane’s plan is undeniably complicated, but the scene itself is unrealistic. The man who filed the flight plan is ridiculous and quite dumb. That is certainly shown through his actions and dialogue. However, even more unrealistic is the fact that Bane’s brother happily awaits his own death, following Bane’s commands. Christopher Nolan has always projected realism in his films, but in this particular movie it is not evident so far.
The next scenes focus on Gotham City and its people. Jim Gordon is supposed to deliver a speech explaining what really happened on the night Harvey Dent died, but chooses not to. He says that maybe the time is not right.
Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, is introduced as a maid in the Wayne Manor. She is told by Alfred (Michael Caine) to leave food outside Bruce Wayne’s room. She does but coincidentally meets Bruce, a now social recluse in society. Bruce figures out that Kyle has stolen his mother’s pearls and asks for them. Kyle, however, rejects and knocks him over. She escapes through a window nearby.
This is yet another phenomenal introduction, this time to Anne Hathaway’s character. While complex and unpredictable, I do wish that Hathaway’s character could have been more developed in this movie. In the beginning she is seen as a minor villain, but by the end she is a good person. No transition for this is shown and that is a major problem.
Compared to the previous two films in the trilogy, Bruce Wayne is shown as a completely different character in this movie. He no longer loves being a billionaire and is in a state of (what some might call) depression. Having taken the fall for the murder of Harvey Dent and already enduring the pain from Rachael’s death, Wayne is devastated and the real deal is you feel it. The bleak tone of this movie is shaped up by a resoundingly fitting score by Hans Zimmer. It elevates the movie to a higher level.
There are many great scenes in “The Dark Knight Rises”. One that does not occur until about 30 minutes into the movie is the return of Batman sequence. Following Bane’s unexpected appearance in the Gotham Stock Exchange, Bruce puts on the mask for the first time in eight years. Its a scene that represents one of the happiest moments in the dark and solemn film.
Bane’s fight with Batman is another major highlight. Not only is it impressively put together, it also shows Bane’s ruthlessness as a villain. When Selina leads Bruce/Batman to Bane, you feel sorry and deeply worried about Bruce. The fight starts hopefully, but soon leads to showing Bane’s merciless persona. He breaks Batman’s back sooner that one would expect and this goes on to display Bruce Wayne’s hopelessness. Bane’s dialogue in this scene is just as terrifying as his persona. He overpowers Batman and it is quite obvious why.
A whole segment of scenes that I personally did not like are the ones in Bane’s prison/pit. I can see why they created the prison and situation for Bruce Wayne, but its not something that I admired. The prison segments are present to display Bruce Wayne’s rise as a hero. They are far from realistic or believable, but the most unnecessary factor, unneeded in a couple of scenes is the “Deshi-Basara” chant. In Moroccan the phrase means “He Rises”. Although it makes the ‘rising’ scenes look epic, its too repetitive and eventually gets irritating after a while.
The scene when Bruce finally gets out of the pit and returns to Gotham City is far-fetched. It just does not make any sense considering the fact that Bruce is broke with no help. Alfred is not even present, which makes it look even more unrealistic.
Bane’s death scene also did not make any sense to me. The screenwriters had built his character to be someone so dangerous until the unexpected twist near the end. Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) reveals herself as Talia Al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter. This leaves Bane as an emotionally scarred person, but weak villain. His death scene where Selina Kyle kills him left me disappointed. I think the filmmakers could have created a better end for the character, instead of a completely random one.
One last thing I wanted to touch base on before I end this analysis is the movie’s ending. Its a spectacular, breathtaking ending that will surely leave you with goosebumps. However, its also leaves behind unanswered questions. When Batman takes the bomb away from the city he has no choice but to leave it over the water. At this moment he is in his Bat jet, when the bomb explodes.
My first reaction to this was that he died, but this was because I didn’t pay close attention. I originally thought that Alfred was having a dream where Bruce appeared with Selina.
After a couple of viewings, however, I realized I was completely wrong. Bruce survived because of the auto-pilot scene with Morgan Freeman. It is implied that Bruce fixed the auto-pilot before the bomb blew up. Yes, it was not very clear to me before and that is my problem here. It should have been clear, but just wasn’t.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays one of the most interesting characters in the film. His character’s conclusion is very well made and admirable. The way he discovers the bats, while Alfred finds Bruce gives the movie an extremely satisfying conclusion.
That is why Christopher Nolan remains one of the best directors in Hollywood today. “The Dark Knight Rises” is not his best movie, but its easily his most satisfying one.