Movie review: “The Dark Knight Rises” (no spoilers!)

First off, let me just say THANK YOU to Ms. Sionee over at Warner Bros. Philippines for the ticket to the The Dark Knight Rises premiere yesterday at the IMAX Theater in SM Mall of Asia. Hooray for the Philippine premiere taking place two days before the US release date! I had a great time dressing up as Catwoman (despite the non-stop arguments with the costume-maker that shall not be posted here). The official synopsis:

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

In an overused-but-absolutely-appropriate word? EPIC. It was a fitting, spectacular, and fantastic end to Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe. Yes it was a long movie – you feel the 2 hours 45 minutes running time, especially near the big battle at the end – but each second served a purpose and I appreciated that. Just make sure to go to the toilet before the movie 😛

Christian Bale is Batman. There are no other words for it. Despite growing up with Michael Keaton’s take, Christian Bale is my Batman. If/When (?) they do reboot the franchise, I hope they’ll wait a good 10-15 years.

Michael Caine as Alfred personifies the loyalty and pain associated with being Bruce Wayne’s closest confidant. He only wants what’s best for Bruce, even if that means Bruce giving up the cowl. I was disappointed that he wasn’t in the movie more but I understand why he wasn’t.

Gary Oldman also does a great job as world-weary Commissioner Gordon. He hates that he had to set up Batman as the villain but accepts that he had to do it for the greater good. He desperately wants to tell the people of Gotham the truth but he knows that they aren’t ready yet. He’s sidelined for part of the movie but bounces back to lead the charge against Bane.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt fits into the cast with ease. John Blake is a rookie cop who joins the GCPD after being inspired by Batman. Blake starts out as a beat cop but Gordon reassigns him to take over the Bane investigation after he’s sidelined. JGL keeps on giving me reasons to love him. I loved his portrayal of John Blake. He’s an idealistic cop who wants to clean up Gotham’s streets for good and doesn’t believe the lies surrounding that fateful night with Dent.

Nothing’s changed much in Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Lucius Fox but then again, nothing much has changed for Fox since TDK. Wayne Enterprises has gone down somewhat in recent years because Bruce mothballed an energy project but he’s still the CEO.

Tom Hardy was perfect as Bane. The raw physicality, the intelligence, and cunning were all there. This isn’t the brainless lackey of the Schumacher film. Definitely appreciated the weight he gained for this role and with his boots, he stands as tall as Bale. My only complaints are 1) I didn’t get to see Tom’s handsome face :P, and 2) the mask doesn’t help the voice at all. I had some problems understanding what he was saying.

Ah yes, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Note that they never refer to her as “Catwoman” in the movie – it’s always “Selina” or the “cat burglar”. All the haters can finally STFU now because Hathaway turned in a magnificent performance as Selina. I loved her fluid grace, her slinky way of speaking, and her badassery during the fight scenes. I wonder how many times she fell on her ass after doing those high kicks in her ridiculous stiletto heels. There were no campy purrs, meows, or obvious favoritism for cats.

Marion Cotilliard also turns in a great performance as Miranda Tate. Let me just confirm that those previous rumors and spoilers surrounding her character are true. That’s all I’m going to say.

Extra notes:
Yes, the scenes near the end (I can’t describe them any better than that for fear of spoilers) really are long, but they underscore Bruce’s desperation. We also get a lot of back story too so that should keep people satisfied.

The ending killed me. That’s all I can say. I was totally satisfied with the ending for everyone involved. I wanted to shout out “YES!!!” in the middle of an IMAX theater. The rumors surrounding JGL’s character are also true. Maybe we can all discuss it after the first week of showing.

The big question: is The Dark Knight Rises better than The Dark Knight? For me, it depends on what you’re after. I think TDK slightly edges out TDKR as the superior movie largely due to Heath Ledger’s Joker, who is still the most interesting and complicated villain we’ve had to date. However, the ending of TDKR made the movie for me so even though it’s not quite as good as TDK, TDKR is my favorite of the three Nolan films.

One suggestion: see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. Yes it’s more expensive but it’s absolutely worth the experience. The IMAX theater at SM Mall of Asia will show The Dark Knight Rises 24-hours a day for opening weekend until 3am on Monday (July 23). Yahoo!


After the movie, a very happy camper.