I think anyone would agree that The Dark Knight was a tough act to follow. Nolan’s revamp of the classic superhero series is a stand-out of the genre and Heath Ledger received almost universal praise (and a posthumous Oscar) for his portrayal of the Joker. With Ledger’s passing, it raised the stakes even more. While Batman has faced countless villians in the comics and other incarnations, many are much too campy for Nolan’s vision, so he went with the lesser known but very brutal Bane (Tom Hardy), but to keep the masses happy, he threw in Anne Hathaway in a catsuit.
It’s been eight years since Harvey Dent’s and the public was told he was murder by Batman and only Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne (aka Batman – Christian Bale) know the truth. Harvey Dent Day is a local holiday in Gotham, and Gordon’s life is falling apart due to the guilt. Wayne lives in a self-imposed exile somewhat crippled from injuries he endured as Batman. He encounters Catwoman (though she is never called Catwoman) as she steals his mother’s pearls and his fingerprints from his supposedly uncrackable safe. Meanwhile, Bane, a former member of the League of Shadows, is building an army in the sewers of Gotham. This is enough to convince Wayne to bring Batman back, much to the dismay of his butler and confidant Alfred (Michael Caine). After a showdown with Bane, Wayne finds himself in a legendary prison known as the pit, a hellish place that only one man, Bane, has escaped. He must return to form and return to Gotham, which has been taken over by Bane and other criminals and is facing a nuclear holocaust.
And now for the SPOILERS!!!!
As you can see this film has a lot of plot and not all of it makes complete sense. The biggest “Huh?” moment for me is when Bane hacks into the stock market and bankrupts Bruce Wayne. It was very well known that Bane held the stock exchange hostage that very day, so why isn’t this investigated more? Also, I also don’t know if I believed the big twist that Miranda (Marion Cotillard) was really Thalia Ghul’s daughter who was in cahoots with Bane to destroy Gotham. This was a surprising reveal, but it seems like a twist for the sake of a twist. I didn’t like this for two reasons: 1) I don’t believe Cotillard knows she’s Ghul in the earlier parts of the film. If you want to see an awesome twist, go watch Fight Club. When you rewatch it, you see the tightrope Helena Bonham Carter had to walk as Marla. This does not exist with Cotillard. She’s Miranda and then, suddenly, she’s Thalia. I’ve spoken about this with a fan of the Frank Black comics, where Thalia Ghul is a much bigger deal, so it was cool for him, but it fell flat for me. 2) It weakens the presence of Bane. As Thalia tells Batman her plan, Bane looks down on her like a puppy dog. This brutal monster, the one that escaped The Pit, the one who could bring Batman down, is some puppet on a string?
While it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, I didn’t expect it to be. That said, Hathaway is a lot of fun as Catwoman. Caine is heartbreaking as Alfred says good-bye to the boy he promised to protect. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great as John Blake and really shaping up to be one of the most interesting actors of his generation. I wish we could get some Robin movies, especially since I’ve never been blown away by Bale’s Batman. Like the return of scarecrow as head of the kangaroo court, though if Ledger was alive, that would have totally been Joker’s role. Nolan is smart to gather so many top-notch actors (the cast includes four Oscar winners) because the performances keep you from noticing the plot holes, weaker spots, etc.
Overall a satisfying end to the series. Gives the audience a clear ending, while making them wish there was more to come.
Programming note: Will be out of town next week so my brother will be guest blogging for me.
Glad you enjoyed it, though, like me, you recognized it couldn’t possibly top The Dark Knight (or Nolan’s non-Batman follow-up, Inception). One thing I love about Nolan’s films is that they’re usually better the second time around. He has a subtle way of building wrinkles into the plot that just escape the first viewing.
In the case of Bane/Miranda/Thalia, remember it was revealed that Bane was NOT the one who’d escaped the pit but Thalia, with Bane’s assistance. It’s the same kind of sleight-of-hand trick that made the Usual Suspects so effective, wrapping lose connections around a myth; in this case, assumptions that Bane was the “creature” bad enough to escape that hell. I kept thinking, “Boy, Bane sure looked girly as a kid”, and well . . . 🙂
Check out my review if you get a chance: http://grandefalcone.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/movie-review-the-dark-knight-rises-2012-christopher-nolan/
Yeah, I just felt disappoint that Bane was not this unstoppable force, when in fact it was all Thalia.
I see what you’re saying, though I did think the last brawl between Batman and Bane was pretty awesome.
I have not seen this movie yet. Even reading that it’s not perfect, I’m excited for it, plot holes and all!!
Saw it in Imax – my first Imax experience. Would recommend.
I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of a clear backstory for Bane or at least something that could have made his motivations a little more believable. It’s clear, though, that the ambiguity surrounding his origins is deliberate, a way to make the Talia twist all the more effective. Does it work on a superficial level? I think so, but I think making Bane a much more complex and emotionally resonant villain would have been far more satisfying.
Nice review, but I have to say I like that look Bane gave her at the end. We had been hating this monster for an entire movie and then – just in a flicker – Nolan briefly takes away that hatred. It round the character out so much for me. I still wanted to see Bane get defeated, but I will admit that it hurt a bit to see it. It was nice to have someone tinker with my emotions like that, especially in a movie this size.
I just love your site! I really enjoy reading other peoples takes on the films of our generation. Thanks for posting!
Obviously, you are passionate about the movies and know your stuff. I’m saving Batman Rises for a rainy day–will probably rent it. Christian Bale rocks! I don’t believe he’s ever starred in a bad movie. What are the odds against something like that?
Thanks for the comment! There are some actors that are very smart about what they pick so even if they are in a film that isn’t perfect, you still get why they did it. I think the number of actors who choose interesting over money maker is growing, which is a good thing =)
See I wasn’t crazy about the Dark Knight either, I just haven’t been a fan of the Nolan films *shrugs*
Yeah, they aren’t perfect but I think he gets away with a lot due to the high quality cast etc. He’s probably very style over substance.
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Also willing to befriend new people to talk to about movies 🙂
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I agree particularly in regards to the whole Bane/Thalia thing. I couldn’t understand why they said only one person ever made it out when, if Thalia had already escaped, then Bane would also…..forget it.
I also very much agree on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s really been making a strong showing these last few years.
The ending would have been stronger, in my opinion, without Thalia.
I agree with you about Thalia – a plot twist with no real purpose. Given that I thought this movie was really pretty terrible, I had stopped really caring too much at that point and the ‘reveal’, while surprising, was ultimately pointless. More plot holes in that movie than a spaghetti colander.