Nadia Elkharadly: The Dark Knight Rises – Movie Review

This past Friday one of the most anticipated films of the summer, maybe even the year was finally released to the public.  The final installment of Christopher Nolan’s iconic Batman series was finally in theatres, and my brothers and I would be some of the first people to see it.

My youngest brother Amir is a huge movie buff.  He also loves comic books.  Put those two things together and you have his favourite combination in life.  He had been talking about going to see The Dark Knight Rises for months.  So when he found out there was going to be a movie marathon of all three Nolan Batman films, nothing was going to dissuade him from partaking.  And being the supportive siblings that we are, my other two brothers and I offered to tag along.

I’m not sure we knew what we were really getting ourselves into until I looked into the run times of the films; turns out we would be camping out in cinema 3 of the Scotiabank Theatre for nearly 9 hours.  I’m awaiting my nomination for sister of the year…

Christopher Nolan

I’d seen the two previous Batman films in the past few years, and even then I had to admit there was merit in seeing all three films back to back.  The continuity of the stories was preserved, recurring characters recognized immediately, and most of all, viewers were completely immersed in the Batman saga.  I was able to refresh my  memory of the previous films, to recall what the full storylines were, which characters really spoke to me and what aspects I enjoyed most.  These films have a consistency that the previous Batman films lacked, something that happens when you keep one director at the helm.  Also, it was quite evident that if you made the marathon, you weren’t just a fair-weather Batman aficionado.  The fans in that theatre were the absolute die hards of the bunch.  We had kids in full costume, many in t-shirts sporting the batman emblem, and even one guy fully dressed as the big bad of the final film Bane.    There was also a sort of camaraderie that developed between fans seeing the marathon, and a relaxed feeling in the theatre.  We’d all found our spots, gotten our food and were comfortable and ready to watch the film when midnight finally rolled around.  When I took a quick walk outside the theatre to stretch my legs, the chaos that preceded the other midnight screenings made me think that my brothers and I had made the right choice.  And finally, the time had arrived; the final Batman was beginning.

I have to admit I didn’t really have any expectations going into this film.  I was mainly going to be a supportive big sister.  I know the film has been receiving mixed reviews, from the glowing to the scathing, but I have to say I enjoyed it (and that’s after sitting through over 5 hours of prequel time).  It was an incredibly well made film, to the point of being decadent.  Nolan clearly loved this project and it showed.  No expense was spared, the sets, the scenery, and how it was all captured; it was fantastic.  What struck me most about how the film was made was the use of music.  The film was perfectly scored, to the point where even lack of music was profoundly impactful.  Pay attention if/when you watch the film, maybe you’ll notice too.  I greatly enjoyed it.

One thing that I really didn’t expect to enjoy about this film was Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman.  Her role was written in a much more realistic way than the one Michelle Pfeiffer played.  There were no nine lives, no cat familiar.  The athleticism and gymnast style moves remained, but Hathaway’s Selena Kyle was a cat burglar who used her skills to make her livelihood, not a disgruntled secretary with a penchant for anarchy and destruction and a taste for revenge.  Watching Kyle be badass from minute one was refreshing and incredibly entertaining.  Also entertaining was another quality that the two generations of Selena Kyle shared; dry, biting wit, delivered in a deep throaty voice, one step above a very cat like purr.

Hathaway had some competition in the foxy female department in this film, in the form of costar Marion Cotillard.  I had no idea she was in this film, but as she’s become my favourite actress it was a very pleasant surprise.  Beautiful, sensual and incredibly talented, Cotillard added a welcome depth and sophistication to The Dark Knight Rises in the form of the mysterious and wealthy Miranda Tate, business woman and environmental crusader.

Despite sharing the screen with these two smoking ladies, I have to say I could not detect a hint of chemistry between Bale and either Cotillard or Hathaway.  I’m not saying Bale is a bad actor; on the contrary, I think he did quite well in all three films.  However, while Bale was very comfortable in both his designer and batman suits, he could not seem to muster a spark between either lady when they shared the screen.   Frankly, Cotillard sizzled more while bantering with Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox than she did while kissing the chiseled Bale.  Maybe it was just me, but I found all of Bale’s attempts at flirtation and romance in all three films flat and disappointing.  He could be forgiven for not sparking with original love interest Rachel (played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins and Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight) but I seriously question how he wasn’t able to get it up (metaphorically speaking and otherwise) for the gorgeous Marion.  Frankly, Nolan should have let Bruce Wayne/Batman stay the consummate bachelor.  He was much better battling bad guys than seducing bad girls.

Another aspect of the film that I really didn’t enjoy was the “voice acting” conducted by Bale as Batman, and Hardy’s Bane.  Bale’s batman voice was irksome to me when I first watched Batman Begins a couple of years ago.  Octaves lower than his Bruce Wayne voice, the amount of affectation, growling, and lisping that came with his Batman voice was just…distracting.  And it got even worse when he was MAD Batman.  Anger and ferocity came across as comical, overacting to the extreme.  As bad as that was, it was not nearly as obnoxious as Hardy’s voice as Bane.  I understand there’s a whole Darth Vader factor with the life giving/pain saving mask situation he has going on, but WHY did he have to talk like Sean Connery?  It was pretty hard to take him seriously when all it reminded me of was Will Ferrell’s Connery impression from Saturday Night Live Jeopardy.

Bad voice acting aside, some of the greatest acting in the film came courtesy of the two veteran cast members, the previously mentioned Morgan Freeman and of course Michael Caine as Alfred, the beloved Wayne family butler.  The few but welcome comedic moments generally came from the impeccable wit and timing of these two acting gems, and they markedly improved every scene they were in.

The Dark Night Rises definitely had its ups and downs.  It dragged in some parts, and the aforementioned voice issues were problematic, but the story was engaging, the dialogue entertaining, complete with the occasional well placed joke to break up the seriousness of the subject matter.  I would definitely recommend it, at the very least, it’s something to see.  Let me know what you think using the fancy comment section just below.

Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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