Scott Bailey’s review published on Letterboxd:
"We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die"
The Dark Knight Rises is that one Christopher Nolan film I am always conflicted with. For me it is the weakest film of the trilogy and one for a long time I've really struggled rewatching. For me it is just overlong at a ridiculous 2 hrs and 45 minutes, and unevenly placed.
That doesn't mean to say I think The Dark Knight Rises is bad or anything like that, it has moments that are genuinely spectacular to watch. For me though in a world where everything is based on realism and your last two films are so intricate and precise, things really do fall apart for me in this one.
First of all I will mention the things I really enjoyed about this film. Obviously Bane is an awesome villain and not only did Tom Hardy have massive shoes to fill after Heath Ledger's outstanding performance in the previous film, but I was also wondering how he would be written into this world when in the comics he becomes huge become of the Venom he pumps into his veins. This is very well handled though, Hardy absolutely kills it in this movie and he brings his own charisma and menace to the character. Whilst The Joker was a purely psychological threat to Batman who seems like he was 10 steps ahead all the time. Bane had that imposing strength and almost dictatorship quality to him. Also who doesn't love that voice? I mean seriously?
Another actress I felt had very big shoes to fill was Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, who is strangely never once referred to as Catwoman, but I really liked her in this role. She felt very different to and of the previous iterations, where it downplays the sex appeal (not that she's not sexy or anything like that :) ), and instead just focuses on making her bad ass. I loved her fight scenes in this film and there is quite a few of the, and I love her mannerisms in this film. For instance when she appears sheepish the first time she meets Bruce Wayne, but once he clicks on she's stealing from him, and then you see she's putting on a front. She has quite a few really good scenes like that in the fist half of the film and I love that you constantly wonder weather she can be trusted or not. You can clearly see good in her, but you can also see she's playing both sides and looking out for herself.
Marion Cotillard also gives a good performance as Miranda Tate and not to give anything away, the more you find out about her character, the more interesting she becomes.
The score from Hans Zimmer is heavier than in the previous films and in my opinion its the most memorable score of the three. This is an acquired taste for some because sometimes his louder scores are overpowering, but I love it here and I love how it is utilised. That first fight scenes between Bane and Batman for example there is absent of any music whatsoever and I absolutely love this, it makes you feel every blow in that scene where you see Bane overpowering and 'breaking' the bat.
Speaking of that scene the cinematography by Wally Pfister in that scene (in fact in the whole trilogy in general) is just truly exceptional here. Just the dark lighting in that scene truly paints a hopeless tone for the hero here. In my opinion it is the best scene in the movie. The action in this film is absolutely spectacular to watch as well. The fight scenes are really well choreographed and that scene where the football stadium blows up was just completely jaw dropping to watch. There are so many incredible set-pieces in this film it is worth seeing for those scenes alone. And if you're an avid reader of the comics, you'll notice some awesome Easter Eggs here.
So far it's sounding like I absolutely loved this film and in some aspects I really do, but unfortunately there are several things holding it back. For one I'm just not the biggest fan of the character writing in this one. Christopher Nolan is now at this stage where his characters and dialogue is written in a way where you just don't buy it because they don't talk or act like real people! This is particularly noticeable when you watch the previous films, and then watch this one.
Case in point Alfred who's loyalty to Bruce Wayne extends beyond a working relationship suddenly turns his back on him in this because he thinks he'll kill himself fighting Bane. I'm not going to to say there wouldn't be conflict between two, but I just didn't like the way it was handled because I felt like it went against everything Alfred stands for as a character and particularly this interpretation of him. When you go back and watch Batman Begins for example, you would just never see him doing that!
I'm not a fan of Josef Gordon Levitt's Detective Blake character either. For me that conversation he has with Bruce Wayne where he says "Right when I saw that look on your face I knew who you really are" just felt so forced! I just didn't buy anything about this character at all!
One of the things I never mentioned in my review of The Dark Knight was how I felt about the ending and that's because I didn't know how I felt about it at the time, and I still don't now really, but I will say I think it left me thinking long after I saw it! It left me intrigued just to see where the story would go. Here the ending has absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. It leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination and generally it feels like it spoon feeds everything to you, and wraps everything up in a neat little bow, and for me that did feel underwhelming.
This is by no means a bad film, I adore parts of this movie and there are some truly spectacular moments that blew me away, but it isn't a patch on the previous two!