|"The... gurgle... negotiations... were..."|
The final part of the Batman film series thus far, The Dark Knight Rises thankfully has earned the label of "last, but not least". In fact, in terms of character study, cinematography, atmosphere, direction, acting, general entertainment and of course, delicious villainy, this is by far the best Batman movie of them all. There's just so much done right here.
For a main villain, we have Bane whom you might remember from the klutzy Batman And Robin as Lionel Luthor's experimental muscle-man. In this version, he's played by Tom Hardy with a hilariously unfitting voice which manages to carry a surprising amount of charisma and menace.
Taking place eight years after the Joker was in town, Bruce Wayne has become a self-induced loner and refuses to talk to anyone but Alfred, unable to move on from Rachel's murder.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon feels finally ready to open up about Harvey Dent's crimes.
But all this misery is interrupted when crime starts cropping up in Gotham city again, rejuvenating Batman and making Gordon's job relevant again. Unfortunately, Bane outwits the both of them and completely overruns Gotham, creating his own criminal empire to manage the now-cut-off-place(for no real reason, since there's a bomb ticking away all this time) and trapping Bruce in an underground prison.
It's up to Batman to escape and stop him with the help of an incredibly lowkey Catwoman, an aging Gordon, a new police officer by the name of Robin(eyebrow raised) and of course, EVERYONE IN GOTHAM.
That's what I really love about this movie, it's about Gotham. Not a threat to Gotham, not a threat from Gotham, it's about Gotham itself.
The takeover of the city allows for some real memorable visuals, like the Scarecrow's court, the police officers' shantytown in the sewers and the war between the people of Gotham and Bane's lackeys. It feels more larger-than-life than the previous two, which I think is a large part of what makes Batman work. It doesn't really take place in reality, but a distillation of reality.
Really, the only thing that didn't make sense was the Joker not showing up again. Yes, they never mentioned opening Arkham Asylum, but if even the Scarecrow is on the loose, shouldn't the Joker also be?
I think the Joker would've been a way cooler Judge.
The acting in The Dark Knight Rises is, as I've already pointed out, perfect. Michael Caine finally manages to beat Gough's Alfred with his heartbreaking plea to Bruce to stop being Batman and of course, the funeral scene where I was ready to declare him the greatest actor of our time. It was so well done. So well performed. So perfect.
Morgan Freeman gives more of his trademark wit and intelligence as Lucius Fox, a really underrated performance.
Tom Hardy is stellar as Bane, delivering a complex physical performance despite being covered up by a huge mask. His voice, although incredilby mismatched, is very compelling.
The only real letdown was Anne Hathaway's Catwoman, who felt overwhelmingly unsignificant. She doesn't come close to the feral performance given by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns.
Christian Bale also shines as Bruce Wayne himself, a role I'd seriously underappreciated until now. There's quite a lot to the character I had overlooked, even when Michael Keaton(my personal favourite lead actor) was playing the role.
Despite other critics usually lambasting the growling voice used by Bale, I'd say it didn't hurt my viewing at all. I was frankly more concerned with Bale's acting than the sound of his voice.
The ending, which provides an unexpected closure on the Batman saga, was just pitch-perfect.