The Dark Knight Rises is the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. It enters the theaters like an undefeated fighter fighting his last bout. With it's legacy at stake. Nervous?
The Dark Knight Rises picks up with the idea that The Dark Knight left us with. Harvey Dent is gone and Batman took the blame. Gordon knows this, but protects the lie to preserve the peace of the people. Which is at an all time complacent high. Crime is way down and the city is in danger of becoming a normal one. While Wayne struggles with his battered body and the fact that no-one needs the Batman anymore, a young "hothead" cop (Joseph Gordon Levitt)with many similarities to Bruce Wayne's traits and struggles, begins to piece together the truth about Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent. All the while Alfred struggles mightily with the choices Bruce has made since hanging up the costume. All the while Bane and his ruthless, talented, and dedicated thugs begin their terror tour on the city of Gotham providing a reason for war torn Batman to surface once again, albeit in the face of a possibly un-beatable force. Catwoman is in the mix as well, more as a thief than anything else, with questionable motives as we can't ever tell who's side she is really on other than her own. With Batman's personal struggles never ending even including major problems with Wayne Enterprises, our hero has never been up against it like he is in The Dark Knight Rises. I mean, look how long it takes just to write down the plot. This movie had a lot to cover.
Nolan's films have always had a grandiose landscape and issue scope. This film is no different, although in The Dark Knight it was easier to hone in at times simply on the madness of The Joker. With Bane however, though more intimidating by far, has much deeper agenda that parades us further into the issues at large and perhaps taking us away from the heart of the film we really came to see at times. Again there was just so much to cover in this film it was nearly impossible to give every monumental moment ample time, even with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes. Though the film was enthralling to watch at every turn, I do wish it had a bit more Batman.
The action scenes are epic and disturbing. If I had to pick one thing I think this trilogy has done best it would be the mass scale of panic and doom in Gotham that Nolan projects on the screen. For the first time in a super hero films, you really feel like there is a city in danger. That people are being terrorized and need someone to save them. Other films talk the talk, but none walk it the way Nolan's films do. Making you feel as though you live int he city in peril and are watching the Joker and Bane terrorize you on the nightly news. This film is no different, taking you to a whole new level of hopelessness. Whereas The Joker would threaten and toy with the city, Bane just wants it wiped off the map and has a disturbingly strong conviction to do so.
Our hero though not on screen as much as we would like is as interesting as he has ever been. It's difficult however to take Bale's performance in because his character has so much going on around him he doesn't even have time to be upset about some of the most profound things that may ever happen to him. His blind dedication to risking it all to save Gotham is what you expect from your hero. But at the same time watching him give it all it in such a personal way is tough to see at times. Especially during the physical interactions with Bane. It was beyond a spectacle to watch someone so strong and thought of as almost un- beatable be so helpless. Nolan did an amazing job showing that.
All the acting is on par with the films before it and there are a few scenes with an emotional Alfred that Michael Caine really steals the show drama wise. Though I believe time would have been better spent in other places than the character of Catwoman, Hathaway is great and not in the nearest bit off-putting in this movie. She was the perfect actress cast for the part even if the movie really didn't permit time for the role. Then there is the matter of the ending. Wow. All I can say is that it took conviction and guts for Nolan to make this film and close it out the way he did. Despite how you feel about what transpires, you will not feel cheated. There are no cop-outs in this film. Just remember as you sit in your seat full of expectations and hope for the ending of this great trilogy. This isn't The Dark Knight. It deals less with the maniacal villain versus Batman spectacle and more with the deep consequences and emotional wreckage that the villains of Batman have wreaked on the city of Gotham and of course Batman and those he knows and loves. Nolan began the trilogy with Batman Begins with intent to make it realistic as possible. He ends with The Dark Knight Rises true to that promise and in the real world, actions have consequences. Even for Batman. Even if it's hard for us to watch.
The Dark Knight Rises provides the excellent film-making we expected and this trilogy is a gift to Batman and film fans everywhere. We all have our idea of how Batman should end but Nolan's vision is a spectacle we can all accept even if it needed a bit more Batman and a bit less vision.
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