It’s the most anticipated film of the summer, maybe even of the year. This is director Christopher Nolan’s swan song to DC Comic’s Dark Knight, Batman. He gave us a great new beginning, and an unforgettable Dark Knight, so how does the third film in the trilogy measure up to the unbelievably high level of expectations? Does the Dark Knight rise to the promise land, or remain in the shadow of a greater bat?
Nolan, being the visionary director he is, has helped in redefining what can be done in a superhero film. His last Bat film, The Dark Knight, introduced the world to the scariest incarnation of the Joker to be seen, thanks to the late Heath Ledger. Now, Rises is a whole new beast, with all new villains ready to challenge the Batman’s mind, body and soul. Back is Christian Bale, who dons the cowl one last time, having been retired for eight years in movie time. Michael Caine reprises his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne’s number one confidant, Alfred, and Gary Oldman puts the glasses on once again for the tough as nails Commissioner Gordon. All the returning cast shine in this film, but what about the controversial new cast members?
I will go ahead and address the main issue that fans were concerned with: Bane. The strongman villain is seen in the comics as a drug riddled thug with superhuman strength thanks to the venom he constantly injects into himself. The Bane from the film is nothing like this, and is brought to life by Tom Hardy, known for his other Nolan related film, Inception. For me, Bane is a massive let down, as he is shown to be this stealthy mastermind instead of the beast of pure power comic fans know him to be. But it is the voice, the electronic mish mash voice that’s a cross between Darth Vader and Sean Connery, that really makes the character that much more unbelievable. Unlike Ledger’s Joker in this last film, I wasn’t afraid of Bane. In fact, I found myself laughing quite a few times as he rambled endlessly.
The other two massive additions to the cast shine brightly in my opinion. Anne Hathaway dons the black cat suit as Selina Kyle, better known to fans as Catwoman. She puts on an amazing performance, and quite literally steals the show from her muscle bound co-antagonist. Officer Blake, player by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is the other major addition, and I have to say, this character fits right in to this new Bat universe. A smart, hotheaded beat cop, Blake has a massive amount of screen time, so it’s a good thing he adds to the film and not detract.
Adding to the film is another issue I had, as the feature clocks in at 2 hours and 45 minutes. Personally, I felt the film dragged on and on, but the ending was a very well deserved close to such an epic trilogy. That’s as much as I will say, as I don’t want to spoil anything for those still planning to go see it. Sadly, I have to say that The Dark Knight Rises is overshadowed by its predecessor in every way, shape and form. Had we had a different choice in villain instead of the English/Irish/Robot sounding Bane, and had the film’s run time been cut tremendously, this had the opportunity to outshine every superhero film out there. Instead, the Avengers still holds the crown for 2012, and The Dark Knight still reigns supreme as the best Bat film of all time in my mind.