Movie review: The Dark Knight Rises entertains despite continuity, pacing issues

By Ben Kendall

“The Dark Knight Rises” is exactly what you would have expected from the latest Christopher Nolan Batman film. It comes through the pacing problems, a few flat performances, a sprinkling of some choppy dialogue and some continuity errors smelling like roses. Normally, when a film has these kinds of problems it sinks, but this one did not.

You can’t go into a movie about Batman and expect to see the greatest piece of cinema, or a taut, gripping tale that blows your face off. That would be unreasonable. I admit that I may have had some unreasonable expectations for this latest caped crusader flick, but it is still remarkably fun to watch.

Two of the better-known bat-villains make their appearance this time around.

For me, I’ve never been a huge fan of Bane. Bane always seemed to be a somewhat lame villain, dripping with 90s art design. But, there weren’t many villains that could overmatch the Batman physically while still being a match mentally, thus, Bane.

In the film, the talented Tom Hardy played Bane. This must have been a challenging role, as most of Bane’s face is obscured by the drug-delivering mask he wears. Therein lies the rub, for many times I couldn’t hear some of Bane’s muffled and distorted lines through the mask. I really like that his voice sounded like he had a mask on, but at times it wasn’t clear. It almost became comically tragic when Bane and Batman were on screen talking to each other. The growl of Bale’s Batman and the napkin-over-the-mouth-of-the-telephone-handset-during-a-prank-call sound of Bane’s voice seemed at times almost unintelligible.

Be that as it may, I feel like Hardy’s Bane was a good one, despite my initial dislike of the character itself, and the challenges that the character design brings to the performance.

Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) seemed to be many theatergoers’ favorite in the film. I couldn’t really stand her all that much, but that’s just me. She wasn’t as obnoxious as she could be and there was a noticeable lack of gratuitous ass shots.

I will admit, that she’s a second-story criminal, and never calls herself “Catwoman.” That’s admirable. Nolan’s pseudo-realistic take on the bat-franchise still has its hold on her character. She’s less of a villain and more of a flamboyant opportunist.

This was the first Batman movie that I actually cared about Batman. Normally, he’s really flat, but this film is about his “rise” to deal with the inner demons.

I did like the scene where Bruce Wayne goes to the doctor about his leg, which consequently has no cartilage in his knee, on top of many other long-term medical problems from being the Batman. Little details like this helps the believability.

That being said, there were also a bunch of little details that seemed to get missed. The film looks like it could have been a film editor’s nightmare.

For instance, when Bane and his thugs go into the Gotham stock exchange to pull some sort of electronic share heist, it’s broad daylight. One of the thugs says it’ll take seven minutes to run the program to finish the crime. The cops show up, and then when they ride dirt-bikes out of the building to escape around 3 minutes into the timer, it’s dark all of the sudden during the chase scene.

The pacing of Dark Knight had some serious issues. The first act and part of the second seemed pretty sluggish and erratic.

The Dark Knight Rises is not a perfect film. Far from it. But, like I mentioned earlier, it’s a movie (a good movie) about Batman. It’s entertaining and doesn’t deviate from the big picture of the story, and (usually) all of its elements work with one another. Who cares if it’s an amalgam of the comics “Knightfall,” “No Man’s Land,” and “The Dark Knight Returns?” The Batman character has been around so long, everything that is written about him is likely to be derivative anyway. It’s not a gem. But it’s entertaining. Nolan succeeded in that.

Final Score: B-

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