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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

The final installment of the Batman series has finally been released. It was the most anticipated movie of the year, after the huge success of The Dark Knight a few years back. Personally, I’ve been excited about the release of this movie for a long time, and couldn’t wait to see it. When I finally did, I was slightly disappointed in the result, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The movie takes place years after the events of The Dark Knight, and Batman has been in retirement. Bruce Wayne has spent most of that time cooped up in Wayne Manor, hanging out with his best buddy Alfred and watching parties and fundraisers held in his yard from a distance, much like Sabrina used to do in the movie Sabrina, or like the nerdy kid at prom who couldn’t find a date. Meanwhile, the streets of Gotham have been almost crime-free, thanks to the “Harvey Dent Act” put in place to lock criminals away (It doesn’t really explain what the law does, except that it allows the police to arrest criminals. No wonder Gotham was in such bad shape before). However, there’s a new villain in town who’s out for blood. His name is Bain and he wears a breathing mask to cover his face. His motives are unclear, but he eventually forces Batman out of retirement and clearly has a vendetta against the winged vigilante.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought this was a really good movie, but I was hoping for something more. The villain was underwhelming, especially when compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Not only that, but the movie was full of moments that were supposed to have a strong emotional impact that simply fell flat for me. I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t elaborate, but certain key moments in the movie that were supposed to be sad, exciting, or scary just didn’t register. There were several plot twists, especially towards the end of the movie, that also kind of ruined it for me.

Michael Cane’s Alfred was underused this time around. He only had a few scenes, and was crying though most of them. He doesn’t want Bruce to sit around the house, so he cries. Bruce finally gets out of the house, and Alfred cries again. Bruce decides to be Batman and save Gotham, Alfred cries again… you get the idea. Morgan Freeman’s Lucious Fox was also relegated to a small role.

Another problem is that Batman really doesn’t have much of a personality. It feels like you could substitute any male actor for Christian Bale and you’d get the same result. There’s nothing unique about the character. It’s not Bale’s fault – I think the screenplay just doesn’t leave much room for the character to express himself. Same goes for the rest of the cast, mostly. At least Anne Hathaway as Catwoman wasn’t as bad as I feared.

There’s a lot to like about the movie. Some of the action scenes are really exciting, the ending is satisfying, even if we’ve seen it before about twenty times, and Joseph Gordon Levitt continues to impress as he did in Nolan’s inception a couple years ago. The movie feels epic, and the music, as with The Dark Knight, is amazing. I think this is definitely worth your time, and I realize that most people who saw it loved it, in many cases as much as the last movie. My expectations were probably too high, and with the summer being a bit slow, I guess I was hoping for something more. That said, I’m still pretty happy with what I got.

Grade – B

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