Dark Knight Rises, The

Release date: July 20, 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Comic by: Bob Kane
Screenplay by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Cane, Morgan Freeman

If The Dark Knight was the cinematic equivalent of a shark spearing through harsh, stark cityscapes on a cool blue night, a relentlessly primal surge of sadism and satiety, then The Dark Knight Rises is a gargantuan beast, one stomping blindly through deserts and civilization.

Comparing the two is difficult therefore, and if anything this film’s more of a follow-up to Batman Begins, with its antagonist Bane (Hardy) being a former troop of the League of Shadows, the grandiose organization that trained up Bruce Wayne (Bale) before falling at the feet of Batman in the first film.

Such a reliance on continuity does surprise, and may also confuse those less familiar with Christopher Nolan’s first chapter of his Bat trilogy. This reliance also lessens the impact of Bane’s mission somewhat, and in a movie of presidents, deserts and overthrows, political gestures really need to be cried bold when channeled through so much mangling of imagery, otherwise seeming lazy and sheepish.

In Rises, Gotham is targeted simply because it’s Gotham, and once the city’s turned into a ticking time-bomb island halfway through, the audience can’t help feeling more ‘distanced’ from this legendary city which isn’t our home. What TDK was so good at was making it feel like we too were lost in the midst of its anarchic madness. Gotham could have been anywhere. But the blanket of myth that covers it throughout Rises proves to be an alienating one in contrast.  Give us the end of our society, and not the grand end of something as huge as civilization, for it can’t really hit home half as well.

No matter how low the emotional investment in Gotham may become though, it doesn’t matter, for that isn’t where the heart of the film lies. Finally, it’s safe to say that we actually have a film about Batman himself, or Bruce Wayne to be more precise, seeing how the old black suit fades in its significance.

Rises is the survival story of one man’s soul, not a city’s. It’s the story of a man trying to bury what haunts him. It’s the story of human beings, and Nolan and Bale, etc. have here crafted the most human of the three films. We care about Levitt’s honest cop John Blake and Anne Hathaway’s dishonest cat burglar to the point that the more opaque Bane and the enigmatic damsel Miranda Tate (Cotillard) can only pale in comparison. The native Gothamites are why the film ultimately triumphs.

One of TDKR’s perfect moments actually comes at the start, when Michael Caine’s Alfred tells Bruce of an old fantasy of his that sums up how worrying Wayne’s existence is in its futility. It’s a touching scene which reminds us that there’s a man inside that Batsuit, who in real life would probably buckle under the sheer weight of the world he’s forged around him. Rises’ other perfect moment comes at the end, where we get the fitting finale fans deserved, with small gestures glowing against all the grandeur of the political gesturing beforehand.

But one question has to be asked though — isn’t it a little sexist to have the female leads be both sexy and untrustworthy at the same time? Discuss.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

giacomo lee

Giacomo Lee is a London writer. His new book Funereal is out now, a unique novel on death, k-pop & cultural technology in Seoul, South Korea. #한류 #doppelgängnamstyle

13 Responses

  1. Mirella says:

    While I love Nolan’s mastery as a director, but as a writer… he doesn’t have a great track record writing females, specially in the Batman trilogy XD

  2. Juan Barquin says:

    Assuming we’re talking about Selina Kyle, I think calling her writing sexist because she’s “sexy” and “untrustworthy” is the most unwarranted comment ever? Nolan’s portrayal of Selina Kyle is fantastic as hell and I think that between the writing and Anne’s acting range, she might just be the best interpretation of Selina Kyle I’ve seen in a long, long time. So here’s my long rambling about Selina Kyle. Spoilers below for anyone who might read this!

    A) They never use the name “Catwoman” and that’s probably the smartest thing Nolan could have done in keeping Selina as real of a human being as possible. The only time they reference it is obviously in the newspaper by saying cat burglar and with her costume design – which I thought the little goggles and cat ears were perfect. Subtle stuff, but a nice touch.
    B) Her background in prostitution! Rather than going all out and saying that she was a hooker, you have Juno Temple’s character (who’s named Jen according to IMDB but she’s basically Holly aka Selina’s bff in the comics) imply it with payments and having men over and that little scene with Bruce entering the apartment. Again, subtle stuff, but just right.
    C) Starting her off as this shy, meek maid – having that scene where she’s “terrified” of Bruce – and then unveiling her real personality was just the right intro. Selina Kyle has to be manipulative in order to survive in a place like Gotham City. Even when she’s in the bar to make the deal with Bruce’s fingerprints, she shows just how manipulative and /smart/ she is. There’s that whole sequence with her bouncing from faux-terror to straight-drama to in-action stuff – hooray range! Then you’ve got just how risky her life can be while also showing how well her plans are laid out by bringing the congressman and using the cell phone. She’s smart and strong.
    D) The dance scene between Selina and Bruce was a perfect use of their sexual chemistry, as well as a nice little touch about Selina not knowing who Batman/Bruce really is, rather than sticking with the boring old formula of “omg i don’t know you WOW SURPRISE UR BRUCE/SELINA NOT CATWOMAN/BATMAN WOW REVELATION!!!” that gets really old after you see it a billion times.
    E) Her initial betrayal of Batman by taking him to Bane shows her major issues with trusting people, and the “untrustworthy” woman thing has a lot more depth than most people would ever write for Selina. She has a rough past, she lives in Gotham City, and she’s been betrayed before. Why would a woman trust some masked man out of the blue? And yet once she sees that it’s Bruce, you can see all the guilt she feels for what she did.
    F) The partnership between Bruce and Selina has always been extremely strained and they somehow always end up back with each other for help with something. They have to learn to trust each other over and over again because both of them have MAJOR TRUST ISSUES which I love because she’s not even nearly as damaged as Bruce. But even when she allows herself to trust someone, she doesn’t compromise the woman she is. She still uses weapons and she doesn’t mind sacrificing someone’s life if it’s necessary – completely unlike Bruce. But most importantly, she SAVES BRUCE more than he saves her and that’s something that isn’t shown often enough. If not for Selina, Bruce would have never even reemerged into Gotham City. If not for Selina, Bruce would have probably died.

    tl;dr Selina Kyle has always been an untrustworthy and sexy woman – due to her noirish, femme fatale base – but everything about that can be understood due to her life being the way it has been and Nolan’s interpretation of her shouldn’t be deemed sexist at all.

    [I have a lot of Selina Kyle feelings and she’s one of my favorite characters so yeah I’m sure everyone thinks I’m crazy now]

    • @Juan Barquin, yeah, I liked the portrayal of Selina in this movie, except I found the “come with me” line corny and not much like her. I wonder what happened to Jen/Holly, though.

  3. Giacomo says:

    Im talking about Selina and Miranda (even Juno Temple too). Of course, I know Selina’s always been a morally grey character, but having the two-facses Tate in the mix too does seem a little much..l

    • Juan Barquin says:

      @Giacomo, Ah I missed that s in ‘leads’ and just saw lead!

      [another spoiler alert for anyone who decides to read this]

      Well that’s the thing, Talia has always been a really morally grey character as well. Between Bruce and her father she’s always conflicted and this time I thought they went a decent route with her (except for that terrible “because he loved me” line about Bane) by keeping her strictly as a villain. There was no remorse in her and I think she was an impressive and intelligent female villain and we so rarely get that in movies.

      Temple was just there? I mean, she was just used as a minor throwback on Selina’s past I guess and to help smooth out certain scenes like the bar. I mean, there are plenty of male characters who just serve to exist and move things along so I wouldn’t necessary find anything wrong with including a female character that does the same.

  4. Giacomo says:

    *two-faced

  5. lol. often times the female is sexy and untrustworthy in film.

  6. Rodrigo says:

    Saw this last Friday. Best film of 2012 for now. I actually think that TDK is better than TDKR in terms of the main antagonist and other stuff, but TDKR really put Gotham City close to its death and the way JGL/Oldman tried to save it while Batman seemed dead/gone was stellar IMO.

  7. amy says:

    “Gotham could have been anywhere.” Except it was New York xD

    I feel your write up on the movie is better than the movie itself, though I do think comparing it to The Dark Knight is unfair, it does kinda drop the ball in pacing… though that may be because this one is nearly 3 hours??? I’m gonna have to ask my cousin whether he liked this one, since he liked Begins better.

    I love LOVE Marion Cotillard, but her revelation scene was full of incredulous gasps from me, not in a good way. I hadn’t seen Marion acting this forced ever. And I don’t think it had to do with her English level, since I was able to perfectly enjoy her performance in other projects. I noticed the same lack of ease in JGL. They were my least favorite.

    I was surprised by Hathaway’s Catwoman, after all the outcry of course. I was a little sad we didn’t get better action scenes with her, but her build had a nice flow. But I agree with your thoughts on Alfred’s scene- I really think Caine nailed his final scene in Wayne Manor specially.

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