By Joel Massie
Co-Author: Mike A. Massie
In an attempt to be grandiose with illimitable power and influence, and to simply outdo its predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises often forgets what’s most important – the story. Even with a twisting mystery and numerous new characters, the lengthy and overly complex plotline overshadows many of these fascinating elements. At close to three hours the film’s pacing is surprisingly good, but the villain’s messy scheme is needlessly convoluted. His three-month plan to destroy Gotham City only facilitates Batman’s preparation for vengeance while the necessity for such a tedious design is as unclear as the hulking madman’s gravelly, accented voice.
Though plot holes and questionable intentions may stand out, so too does the excitement and undeniable appeal of the masked superhero’s adventurous exploits in foiling criminal masterminds. Some of the momentum is feigned through thundering music cues and overpopulated scenes, but director Christopher Nolan has never failed to create elaborate, praiseworthy action sequences. And while Batman’s new nemesis Bane may not surpass the impact of The Joker, he still presents an impressive interpretation of the iconic foe (and one much more authentic than Batman & Robin’s drone-like henchman).
Eight years have passed since Batman was blamed for the death of Harvey Dent and Gotham City has remained in a relative state of peace without the caped crusader’s presence. But with the arrival of ruthless mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy), reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) must once again don the mask and become the Dark Knight. As Bane’s machinations steadily comes to fruition and the incendiary lays siege to Gotham City, Batman must join forces with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and master thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) to combat the psychopath’s reign of terror.
The Dark Knight Rises suffers from the same cloudburst that many final parts of trilogies endure: length. Nolan’s epic close is no exception, spanning many more minutes than truly necessary, causing the adventure to dawdle and the tension to wane. The lingering feel only works to heighten the burning desire to see the antagonist finally fall, especially after so many scenes of overbearing despair manifested on the decaying state of Gotham. And it succeeds in creating a multi-layered villain that, while not as effective as the Joker (who is not once mentioned in the film), is quite appropriate in this darker universe. His visuals, costumes, bulkiness, and actions are thrilling, believably causing anarchy and going toe to toe with the masked avenger (occasionally, it’s notably disheartening to see the Dark Knight fail so often and be bested repeatedly in battle). Too bad his dialogue is as annoyingly inarticulate as Bale’s hero – a problem started with Batman Begins and kept constant throughout the series, despite plenty of voiced concerns.
The action scenes are immense and explosive, paying off handsomely between moments of long-winded expositions, chronicling the back-stories and introductions of several new characters. Unfortunately, many of them are borrowed actors from Nolan’s Inception, which influences their identities to appear not as Batman roles, but rather familiar faces from other recent projects. Hardy, Gordon-Levitt, and Cotillard as major players suggest reprocessed entities. Similarly, adapting the comic book story arc of Bane breaking Batman’s back into this completely unrelated adaptation results in a preposterous time frame (the siege of Gotham is over 90 days long) and brings about questions of recovery speed, ineffectiveness of the authorities, and even transportation to and from locations. In all three films, the villains have attempted grand scale, citywide domination and destruction, plotting massive terrorist attacks that would fit real world commotion more suitably than the fictional Gotham, which better benefits from simpler schemes of combating Batman and embarking on destructive chases. The extended build is overdramatic, drastic, and circuitous, but culminates in a worthy, colossal climax that will undoubtedly prove foolproof in the eyes of fans.
- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)
The Massie Twins are identical twin film critics who have been professionally reviewing movies full time for over 7 years, appearing on TV, radio, online and in print. They are members of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the Internet Film Critic Society and their work can be seen at GoneWithTheTwins.com
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