Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile.
The Dark Night Rises certainly is not your average superhero film. There are no cute quips or zany interactions to slow down the drama. This film is storyline driven from the start and action packed throughout. Batman, played to perfection once again by Christian Bale, is back to his brooding, Frank Miller-like self. Some new characters are introduced along the way and the regulars are all here from the first two films in the series. That said, the real star of this movie is the plot. At three hours in length, it had best be a great story, right?
Warning! Spoilers are ahead!
The movie opens with Bruce Wayne brooding away in his digs in a virtual Howard Hughes like existence. The city of Gotham is virtually crime free due to the Harvey Dent Act, and the rich are sitting on top of the world enjoying life. The poor, however, are living a life of complete misery. They either are jailed are they are swept off to the side of society altogether. Nolan is brilliant in setting this stage and showing the pain and euphoria that each class of citizen is suffering from.
Batman is effectively retired after the public turned on him for his terrible actions (in their minds) against Harvey Dent. The details on this are a bit sketchy and someone that has not seen the previous films might be a bit lost here and there, but I digress. The bottom line is that both Batman and Bruce Wayne are out of commission.
In what appears to be her sole purpose for being in the film, Selina Kyle (Catwoman) comes on the scene and steals a necklace and some fingerprints from Bruce Wayne. This is certainly not an entirely negative experience for the movie watching public. I had no problems watching Anne Hathaway slink around in a catsuit. Despite this, her presence in the film was largely just to pull Batman out of hiding. It seems that Hathaway could have been utilized in a larger fashion as Catwoman in the movie, but she did quite well with the small role she was given.
While trying to find out about Selina, Bats discovers the more imminent and dangerous threat that is Bane. Bane is played by Tom Hardy and to me, his character is the most disappointing of the entire movie. I am a huge fan of the comic book series, and Bane is supposed to be larger than life. Kane in the Dark Knight Rises is not that at all. He is imposing and certainly strong in his character, but the size and strength quotient simply did not work for my comic book expectations. Those that are not huge comic fans may not see it as a problem. For me it was distracting.
Regardless, Bane is a former student of Ra’s Al Ghul and he is back to complete his master’s devious plans. To make a long story short, Batman underestimates the powerful Bane and finds himself beaten down after the initial confrontation. This entire sequence is fairly solid and the most enjoyable part of the film. Nolan does a very good job of nodding his head throughout the movie towards Frank Miller, and he tells the story in pictures and dialogue better than anyone in my opinion.
Now that Batman is down and out, the movie goes epic and starts showing the vision of Gotham City under siege. Much like the previous movies, Dark Knight Rises is at its best when the scope gets larger. Gotham City is incredible to look at when the lens pans out and you really get to see the details of Bane’s destruction. One nuclear bomb later, and Bane has Gotham City completely under his control.
This is where the movie almost goes political in a sense. The poor are allowed to enjoy the spoils of war as the rich are suddenly on the bottom of Bane’s world of horrors. This turn of class warfare seems to be a continuous theme throughout the flick as Nolan seems to be making statements in a very indirect fashion. Either way, it makes for fascinating stories and it makes you think a great deal.
This sets the stage for Batman to head back into action and retake Gotham City. (You expected something else?)
The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic movie that is filled with breathtaking cinematography, action filled fight sequences and excellent commentary on society. If you want a light hearted movie that makes you laugh, perhaps you should look elsewhere. Batman is brooding and single-minded in his pursuit of vigilante justice.
That is what Batman is all about and Nolan hits the bull’s-eye once again with this third and final installment in the series. This movie is everything I hoped it would be with one lone exception. I wish Selina Kyle had been integrated into the story with more of a role than she was given. The character seemed pointless and she was far too good in the role to be wasted in that manner. Other than that, Dark Knight Rises was a home run for this movie watcher.