(This review includes spoilers for the film)
This week I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises, the last chapter of director Christopher Nolan's trilogy on Batman. First, to put things in perspective, I'll share some quick thoughts about the two previous films. Both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are solid, entertaining films. I remember seeing both in theaters and enjoying them. Regardless of this, the first one has been somewhat forgettable to me, and I haven't felt compelled to rewatch it. The second one is only elevated by Heath Ledger's flawless performance as the Joker. But other than that, the film is far from great. I have many issues, particularly with the last act, but that's a matter for another entry.
Now, for the third installment, I tried to keep my expectations in check, considering my thoughts on the previous two films. In the end, I can say I was satisfied with it. The Dark Knight Rises is a solid, entertaining film, but not that different from its predecessors in that it never reaches excellence or greatness. Some of its assets are its performances, most of which are good, but none spectacular. I really liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt performance as John Blake. I thought Christian Bale did a better job here than he did in the second one. And Tom Hardy was pretty good as Bane, considering he had to fill Ledger's shoes. Another asset would be the direction. Nolan does a good job handling the camera for the most part and the action sequences are neatly shot.
Now for the stuff that wasn't that good. First, I thought the dialogue was at times too clunky and preachy. Some lines felt as if they were written just for the sake of having a "quotable" quote there. Some for the "epicness" of it, others just for the "coolness".
Second, I know it's a superhero film and as such requires a bit of suspension of disbelief, but I had some issues with most things concerning The Pit. From the narrative symbolism of it, to the time issues having to do with Wayne's recovery and the time that Gotham spends in chaos. About the symbolism, I would've preferred a bit more subtlety to the "rising" of the Dark Knight. And all that stuff about being able to jump the ledge and walk out, it just didn't work for me. And then, we are supposed to believe that a whole city will remain in this chaos for months without the government doing something? I just didn't find Bane's plan either plausible or coherent.
My third and final issue would be with both of Bruce Wayne's relationships in the film. IMO, both felt forced and unnecessary. With Miranda Tate more so. I don't think that it added anything to the conflict within the Wayne Board of Directors or in the climax of the film. Plus, the fact that Tate's secret was all spoiled through the Internet, even before the film opened, ruined all the surprise that the ending revelation might've had. So when she revealed her true nature, there was no edge to it, and then, the script dispatches of Bane, the villain we've been following all the film, rather easily and unceremoniously.
But despite everything I've written, like I said above, the film was still entertaining, albeit a bit overlong. And considering all the bad third installments we've seen among comic book films (Superman III, Spider-Man 3), I suppose this was as good of a closure as one could wish. In the end, I don't think this was neither worst nor better than the first two films. All of them, decent and enjoyable efforts, but nothing great (aside of Ledger in The Dark Knight). Grade: B
(All pictures belong to Warner Bros. and its affiliates)