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Cinema Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

August 9, 2012

(Yes, I disappeared again.  Not my fault this time, though.  Nope.  This time we can blame my husband for leaving me without internet for over a week…the modem-frying fiend that he is)

If you don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises is worthy of five stars…well, then, you’re a fool.  No exceptions.  Harsh?  Not at all.  I mean, what more can you possibly want from a summer blockbuster?  A better cast?  Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway not good enough for you?  How about a more meaningful, multi-layered story?  Because, yes; explorations of mass terrorism, class relations, and the value of revenge are ten-a-penny in Hollywood.  More dramatic set-pieces?  I guess that intense street battles and the part-destruction of Gotham City don’t exactly match up to a car loudly turning into a robot 100 times, right?  Less plot holes?  Oh yeah, I…actually, ok, I’ll give you that one.

Here’s my point, though: The Dark Knight Rises isn’t perfect.  Of course it isn’t.  How many films are, though?  And while The Dark Knight Rises may, MAY, not be quite at the same level as its ‘trilogy’ predecessors (I’m still to be convinced that it isn’t at least the equal of Batman Begins), that doesn’t mean it is automatically downgraded to a lesser star rating.  It’s pretty much common consensus that The Two Towers isn’t as good as Fellowship of the Ring, but that doesn’t mean that film isn’t still a bonafide classic.  There are just different levels to these things.  I adored Avengers Assemble, and I’m sure it will be in my top five of the year, but put it next to The Dark Knight Rises and it looks almost embarrassingly childish.  Take away hype, take away comparisons, and just judge The Dark Knight Rises on its own: it, plot holes and all, is a tremendous piece of cinema.  It’s emotional, it’s fun, it’s surprising, it’s funny, and Joseph Gordon Levitt as Blake is probably the best piece of casting in any blockbuster ever.  He’s just ridiculously good.  The whole cast, though, are predictably brilliant.  Bale, raspy voice and all, is still the best Batman in cinema history, Anne Hathaway makes quite the impact as Selina Kyle, Michael Caine proves to be a master at making an entire cinema well up, and Marion Cotillard has possibly never been lovelier (though, given that I LOVE HER, I’m slightly biased).  The cast is so amazing, that I even forgot about Morgan Freeman in my list at the top…that shouldn’t even be possible!

The Dark Knight Rises has its flaws, and I don’t deny that.  Nolan seems a little snowed under with pressure to make this a fitting finale, and yes, in trying to achieve perfection, he has made a few strange, implausible, choices.  However, every other element of this, frankly, astonishing production makes up for those little annoyances.  The set-pieces are phenomenal, and most importantly, all entirely necessary to the telling of the story.  The score is spectacularly good.  The writing is witty, emotive, and powerful.  Tom Hardy’s Bane is s**t scary.  As I said, I really don’t know what else people want.  Christopher Nolan’s efforts were worth it: a fitting finale, it most definitely is.

***** 

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