Published on July 19th, 2012 | by David PInson0
The Dark Knight needs a better Foe for Finale
When the credits begin to roll and the house lights come up the audience will cheer. There is no doubt that “The Dark Knight Rises” is a worthy final chapter to Christopher Nolan’s dynamic trilogy and the entire work has been an unprecedented success. But for me something is missing this time around. After spending 2 hours and 45 minutes with the brooding Batman the fact is the movie has one tragic flaw: There is no Joker.
Of course this is no fault to anything except fate and the tragedy of Heath Ledger’s loss far surpasses any movie role but without the grinning madman the movie misses the magic. Bane(Tom Hardy) is no substitute. Hardy does his best baddie but with his face nearly entirely covered with some bizarre apparatus there is no expression, no life in the brute. The choice to present his voice, at times unintelligible, as if it were projected from an unseen amplifier is distracting and makes it all too obvious the words were dubbed in after the fact. The voice never seems to be in the same room as the other actors. Switching out one of the best villains in cinematic history with lump of meat hurts the film. It is hard not to be let down.
The concept is, of course, rich and ripe with subtext and heavy thematic elements. Nolan can weave a dense story and this last one is a doozy. It has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent, the false myrter that Batman (Christian Bale) took the fall for at the end of “The Dark Knight”. Using Dent as a symbol of righteousness, the streets of Gotham have been swept clean.
Bruce Wayne has become a recluse up in his manor, broken by the loss of his love Rachel Dawes. He is literally hiding away in his cave. Gotham does not need the Bat. But there is an evil growing beneath Gotham, a literal underground network lead by the sinister Bane that is looking to give power back to the people and create a new world order. When buildings begin to explode, it may be time for Bruce to dust off his cape and cowl and get to business.
The “Occupy Wallstreet” nature to Bane’s plan for the destruction of Gotham is a zeitgeist. The hate for the “one-percenters” brings about anarchy and Nolan is saying maybe the system is working well and we should keep the mucky mucks high up in their castles. Batman fights for this order and the citizens do not know what to do with the false power once they receive it. Smart and challenging ideas and the film has its share of brilliance.
Bale gives a very multi-note performance as Bruce Wayne is as broken-both spiritually and physical- as ever before. The actor transforms himself and our hero spends the first part of the story a sad shell of himself. The he bulks up before our eyes as he takes on the problems of all those around him again. Anne Hathaway is a formidable foe as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and she slinks around proper. There is a solid sadness to the character and she is more than the simple sexiness that Michelle Pfeiffer brought to the role in the Burton version. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a nice fit with the returning cast of regulars. Michael Caine will bring a tear to the eye. If he doesn’t, you are dead inside.
The film drags at times and the action sequences are spaced out a touch too much. We are talking about a film where the final conflict lasts for five months!! Literally: five months. This is an epic vision that gets too bloated with its own importance for stretches. But Nolan (eventually) brings closure to his take on Batman and the result is satisfying. It just would have been nice if he but his best foot forward for the final chapter.