Okay, hear me out on this one. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises isn’t as good as the film that came before it. But what other movie this year made you feel such intense hopelessness, tension and eventual triumph?
Part of what made The Dark Knight so good was that it could exist outside of its comic book mythology. The characters and their motivations were grounded and relatable. The Joker was messed up in a way we could understand. The Dark Knight Rises instead relies more on background story from the comic, which makes motivations less clear and the emotional impact less intense and universal. The tradeoff is that the film keeps your inner nerd happier than The Dark Knight ever could.
Among The Dark Knight Rises’ greatest accomplishments is how one individual is believably able to hold an entire city hostage. I can’t think of another movie where the villain is able to realistically keep the stakes so high. The Joker may be more intellectually interesting but Bane is satisfyingly scary through sheer brute force.
Brute force is actually how the film succeeds in a lot of ways. The Dark Knight Rises tries everything and achieves most of it. The dense plot packs so many twists that you might grow sick of them by the end, but at least the film is always interesting. Echoing the spirit of the Occupy movement, The Dark Knight Rises directly questions our apathy towards how unequal the world really is, blurring the line between good and evil. Bane’s methods are certainly evil but his goal might not be.
Even amidst all the grand action there are still great moments of subtlety. Joseph Gordon-Levitt keeps up his winning streak as the snappy and likeable John Blake. Anne Hathaway slowly comes into her role as a witty and conflicted Catwoman. And though the moments between characters Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) are clunky, they still manage to be oddly touching.
The ending of The Dark Knight Rises pulls a classic Hollywood punch by sacrificing a darker and more interesting conclusion for a crow-pleaser, but this is a film that just wants to give you everything. And any movie that involves the destruction of a massive sports arena is automatically awesome to me.
By: Nolan Matthews