Other than Pixar, I can ‘t think of anyone with as much pressure to deliver quality movies as Christopher Nolan. Since The Dark Knight was released 3 years ago, moviegoers everywhere have been anxious to hear how Batman would follow up the disaster he was left in.
Set 8 years after The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises (DKR) finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as a shut-in, aged past his prime and unable to move beyond the events of his past. However, Bane (Tom Hardy), a physical and psychological monster, arrives in Gotham and forces Batman to come out of retirement. Along the way, Batman encounters Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) in several circumstances and receives some help from John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a police detective.
The cast should remind you much of Inception as Nolan relies on the same core of actors from film to film. Bale, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine maintain the same traits from the previous movies, and Gordon-Levitt and Hardy fit in well, though Hardy has little to show with a mask over most of his face. Hathaway shows some versatility in her performance as the clever and self-serving Catwoman. Most of the character development is Batman’s, who continues to struggle with his 2 identities and how they have affected his life. Although other characters make important revelations, these are relatively predictable.
Despite the solid acting, the movie feels long at 164 minutes. Although The Dark Knight was also long, it had a significant action sequence in the middle that broke the movie into multiple parts. DKR, however, moves fairly slowly through the middle as the plot unfolds without much of the punch you would expect from a superhero action movie. It isn’t always exhilarating, but it should keep you interested.
When the action does happen, it is impressive. Batman has new vehicles for chase scenes including motorcycles and tanks, with the complementary explosions. Batman’s main hallmark is his non-lethal, hand-to-hand combat, and there are some brutal fights in combat. In combat, Bane provides a type of mirror match for Batman. Unlike the Joker, whose insanity provides a perfect foil to Batman, Bane is quite similar to Batman in most respects and represents what Batman might have been if he hadn’t turned away from the extremism of the League of Shadows in Batman Begins.
The comparisons to The Dark Knight are unavoidable and simply, DKR is not as good as its predecessor. This point, however, is no criticism as The Dark Knight set a high bar for movies and the series. DKR remains a great movie in its own right and caps off a consistently high-quality trilogy.