Compared to its predecessor, “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” is a longer and less appealing film. Among comic book movies it rates fairly high, but ever since “The Dark Knight” and the equally engaging box office hit “Inception,” audiences have come to expect more from director Christopher Nolan. Sadly, his third and final installment in the Batman franchise is lackluster on almost every level, from visual effects and cinematography all the way down to basic plot points.
The high point of the movie is, without a doubt, the beginning. The movie opens eight years after the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) at an event hosted in his honor. The setting quickly changes to what seems like a prison break, but is really an airplane hijacking. It is here that the movie’s antagonist is first introduced. He goes simply by the name of Bane (Tom Hardy) and has a unique mask that doubles as a kind of voice changer. At first, this effect is fascinatingly haunting. His voice is amplified in a way that makes it seem like it is surrounding the viewer. This would have been an amazing addition, if it did not simultaneously make him impossible to understand and painful to listen to throughout the movie’s extreme length. From here the movie goes downhill. The visuals are mundane and the script is laughable.
There is no accurate way to summarize this movie in a short review because it is an unnecessarily complicated movie. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has been in hiding for the past eight years, but when the city is taken over by Bane he is called to action. Bane claims to want to hand power over to the people, so he locks down all of Gotham with the threat of a nuclear bomb and declares war on the rich and powerful. There are two women – Selina/Cat-Woman (Anne Hathaway) and Miranda (Marion Cotillard). Unsurprisingly, they both get involved with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Following in the general trend of Nolan’s movies, Miranda’s relationship with Bruce is thinly developed. However, Anne Hathaway is given better material and delivers one of the better performances of the movie and her career. Yet, this only makes the movie even more disappointing, making it evident that this movie had the ability to be so much better.
The basic premise of the movie, a violent revolution with a tone reflecting the recent Occupy Wall Street campaign, was an interesting starting point. But at some point, the movie gets lost in its own vision. Perhaps the best example of this is the scenes in which Wayne is stuck in the same prison in which his nemesis was born. The prison is simply a dark hole in the middle of the desert that prisoners continually try, but generally fail to escape. This could have been a great opportunity for some stellar cinematography, but instead it creates a plot hole. If Gotham was completely quarantined so that nobody could get in or out, how did Bane transport Wayne out of the city, and more importantly how did Wayne just conveniently sneak back into Gotham all the way from some random desert?
There are a lot of other details that fail to add up in “The Dark Knight Rises,” but even those could have been forgiven if it had been fun to watch. Sadly though, the plane scene in the first minutes of the film is the closest viewers will get to being dazzled in the way “The Dark Knight” or “Inception” dazzled them. Ultimately, this makes “The Dark Knight Rises” simply an overly long movie with little to offer other than soothing fan-boy cravings for more comic book movies.