To preface this review, I would like to say that my prayers and thoughts are with those who were affected by the events in Aurora, Colorado. It’s a truly horrible and sick thing that happened. I won’t mention anything else about this because it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the film, but it’s certainly something that had to be acknowledged.
“Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.” – Christian Bale as Batman in The Dark Knight
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard
Christopher Nolan’s epic storytelling of the Batman story has been one of my personal favorite renaissances of a series in history. With the third and supposed final entry in the trilogy, Nolan has decided to reward people’s faith in him and he has created a final chapter that is the most satisfying end to any trilogy that I comes to mind. I’m including The Godfather trilogy, the original Star Wars trilogy, and even Peter Jackson’s masterpiece of filmmaking, The Lord of the Rings trilogy (for all the LOTR people out there that just threw a fit, keep in mind that the Return of the King had about 20 different endings, which may have been the only flaw in the entire series. Also, I’m of the opinion that the Lord of the Rings movies were absolutely amazing so I’m really not trying to pick on the series).
What the Dark Knight Rises lacks in the perfect villain that it’s predecessor had in Heath Ledger’s Joker, it more than makes up for with a big increase in the sheer scale and size of the action and consequences. It truly feels that Gotham City is headed for total destruction in this installment.
The film begins 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight in a world where Gotham City is without crime, and without the Batman. Bruce Wayne has turned into a hermit and needs a cane to help him walk. Harvey Dent Day exists, which marks the anniversary of the day that Harvey Dent (two-face) was killed and allowed a law to be passed that kept criminals in prison (such a crazy concept, right?). Commissioner Gordon lives every day in regret, knowing the truth about what Batman did for the city in the previous film. The fact that there is basically no crime in the city keeps him from telling the truth. But, as he soon finds out, things will be changing in a big way, and there will be a need to bring the Batman back.
There are 4 new characters in the film (that have significant roles in the movie anyway). The first introduced is Bane (Tom Hardy), who can be considered the main villain in the film and has had the same training as Bruce Wayne under Ra’s Al Ghul. He is introduced in an opening scene much like the Joker was in The Dark Knight. Only this time the scene takes place in the air, as one plane attached itself to another plane in a rather thrilling midair hijacking. It really is a spectacular opening action sequence.
Selina Kyle, probably better known as Catwoman, is played by Anne Hathaway. She is a very talented thief and a very charming beautiful woman (which is something that quite obviously helps her in thieving). In many ways she is actually smarter, stronger, and just plain better than Bruce Wayne’s Batman, and she shows this in many scenes where she’s either outsmarting Bruce or deceiving him. She just doesn’t have the resources Wayne has, as she is a poor girl with a criminal record who wants a new start in life.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (one of my personal favorite actors after his roles in The Lookout and 50/50) plays Blake, an up and coming police officer, who grew up an orphan after losing his parents when he was young. He becomes a pivotal cog in the film’s plot, as he is one of the few people who realizes Batman is needed and that something bad is about to happen to the city.
Lastly, but not least, is Marion Cotillard’s Miranda. She plays Bruce Wayne’s love interest among other things, and eventually takes over Wayne’s company due to a slick move by Bruce and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). She’s an environmentalist and is in full support of Wayne Enterprises’ invention of a fusion device that could possibly provide unlimited clean energy to the city (kind of like that thing in Spider-Man 2).
The simple layout of the story is that Bane has a plot to steal the fusion device, turn it into a bomb, and hold the city of Gotham hostage. It’s Batman’s job to try and stop him from blowing up the city. Of course, Christopher Nolan makes the film much, much more intricate than this, but since I really don’t want to risk spoiling anything, I’m going to leave the plot alone for the rest of this review, as there are quite a few reveals in this movie that have a greater impact if they’re seen without the knowledge of the events actually happening beforehand (I’m personally never really affected by spoilers, but I’m just trying to be considerate here).
The film perfectly carries over the tone and themes of the previous films, and is still darker than any other comic book film you can think of that is this big. Christian Bale continues to perform well in the role of an aging Bruce Wayne who has lost a little bit (or a lot) of his luster. He continually seems to be out of touch with everything, understandably so, since he’s been hiding from the public for 8 years.
Bruce’s butler Alfred, played consistently wonderfully by Michael Caine, is a character who provides a few hopeless pep talks to the protagonist, stressing the idea that Bruce Wayne needs to find other ways to help the city than running around in a Bat costume and punishing himself. He also shares his desire for Bruce to have a life beyond Batman, with a family. Caine really provides a good sense of importance in his role in that he is the character that serves as a reminder of how things used to be, and how honorable of a history is contained within the Wayne family.
While Alfred certainly provides his concern and hope for what needs to happen throughout the film, it takes a lot of loss and pain for things to lead to the spectacular finale, before Bruce Wayne realizes what needs to be done. There is so much conflict in this film that it gets to the point where hope seems like something that is unattainable. There are countless moments where Batman and the good guys just seem outmatched by the enemy.
Christopher Nolan has created something absolutely special with this trilogy. He has almost perfected the art of providing enough screen time for an abundance of characters and the action sequences are shot so well, there’s no confusion as to what’s going on, unlike many of the films that come out nowadays where an explosion in place of a cut that makes sense is often what ends up happening. Not only does Nolan provide a thrilling experience with this film, but he also provides a thorough dramatic experience, as the characters that have been there for the entire series all get their moments, particularly Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, who may be three of the most perfect casting choices ever.
My expectations could not have been higher for this film, and what was put on the big IMAX screen in front of me certainly did not disappoint. In fact, this film surpassed everything that I thought it was going to be. And I would like to thank Christopher Nolan and everyone involved in the creation of this trilogy for rewarding my faith with something this awesome.
My Rating: 5 out of 5
* It was actually a participant in AMC Theatre’s showing of the entire trilogy, so I watched the previous 2 films in succession, all leading up to the midnight showing of the final chapter. It was glorious.
* This film truly has something for everyone. And even if it is darker than what people are used to for these types of films, it isn’t devoid of humor.
* It feels like it’s been awhile since I’ve actually enjoyed Anne Hathaway in a film. Maybe it’s just that One Day was so bad that I almost forgot she existed.
* I will admit that Bane was hard to understand at times due to the muffled voice. He was very terrifying though. Job well done by Tom Hardy.
* The IMAX experience was enthralling.