Seven years ago, Christopher Nolan shocked the world with Batman Begins. A dark retelling of Batman’s early days, the world hadn’t a movie quite like this from the superhero genre. And then four years later, Nolan made an even bigger film, and featuring one of the greatest performances you will ever see. It took some convincing to bring Nolan to come back for a third, a simple thought that seems like a downright lie as you watch the newest installment in the series, The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final movie in Nolan’s trilogy wraps up things quite nicely, with the movie being more of a sequel to Begins rather than The Dark Knight. The second film isn’t forgotten by any means, but by bringing the first movie back into focus, it allows the series – and character – a proper conclusion.
The movie begins eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with the murder of Harvey Dent placed solely on Batman, who has since went into hiding. Similarly, Bruce Wayne has become reclusive as well, isolated inside the now rebuilt Wayne Manor. Not only has he decided to become a hermit after the loss of Rachael, but his body is failing him as well, relying on a cane – in more ways than one – to get around. We are quickly introduced to Selina Kyle, a slick thief who aims to bring more balance between the haves and have-nots. We are also introduced to Bane, an imposing figure who has Gotham in his sights. I would usually go a little deeper into the storyline and explain the positives and negatives of the characters, but the less revealed in this review, the better.
There are plenty of things to love about this movie. The scale is much grander, and by the time the second hour wanes away, you realize just how big of an epic this really is. As of right now, the story seems to be a little tighter than The Dark Knight, which had plot-holes galore. I’m sure the holes will become more apparent on repeat viewings (much like they did for TDK), but this movie relied less on events being perfectly timed or chance than its predecessor. Anytime a movie demands repeat viewings to break down possible deficiencies that you didn’t catch before, the director obviously did something right. Another reason I want to watch this movie again right away is the chance to watch it on an IMAX screen. The camera work on this film is simply fantastic, especially the scenes with Batman’s new toy. And, as always, Hans Zimmer’s score was top notch stuff that always demands mentioning.
This is probably the most conflicted we see Batman in the entire trilogy, and Christian Bale nails it. He goes from lost and isolated at the beginning to thinking that he can solve all the problems in the city once again before being broken down physically and emotionally. And doing most of that beating comes from Bane, played with great presence by Tom Hardy. Hardy has to play the entire movie with a mask on that limits what he’s able to do as an actor, but still manages to convey both the brutality and brains of the character. One of the biggest flaws of this film is the inability to understand all the dialogue, and while they went back and re-worked much of Bane’s voice to make it easier to hear, there were still plenty of lines that I simply did not hear and had to try to piece things together myself.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young cop who other officers call a hothead, but is able to get on the good side of Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon, and the two actors work quite well together. And then there’s the ladies of the film. My French Goddess Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, who is introduced as a possible love interest for Bruce Wayne, as well as a business associate. I squealed like a little girl and grabbed my friends arm when she was introduced, but I doubt there’s much I can say here other than she is lovely and helps establish much of the emotion that this movie displays. As for the other, many people were skeptical when Anne Hathaway was brought in for the role of Selina Kyle. While the term Catwoman is never said, I would have to say that Hathaway played the role perfectly. Slick, stylish, and full of desire to start a new life different from the one she currently lives, Hathaway is sympathetic and teasing at the same time.
As a stand alone film, this a movie that might be a hair too long and has a few audio problems, but is able to reach a level of greatness because of its final hour. As a final third of a tale that we’ve fallen in love with over the past eight years, it reaches an even higher heights, and is quite simply one of the best conclusions to a trilogy that we have witnessed. More emotional than the other two films, a tighter script than The Dark Knight, and a stronger final act than the Begins, The Dark Knight Rises is not only everything we want from a comic book movie, but everything that we want from a blockbuster in general. A tip-of-the-cap your way, Mr. Nolan.