PLOT: Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham City has entered an era of peace. Still reeling from the death of Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, exiled to his mansion and hidden from the public. When a menacing madman called Bane infiltrates Gotham and brings the city to it's knees, Bruce Wayne emerges as Batman to stop him before he destroys the city for good.
REVIEW: Christopher Nolan is a clever man. His interpretation of the Batman mythos has been one of the most thought-provoking film franchises of all time. In THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, we see a Gotham City and Bruce Wayne as we've never seen them before. Things are different to say the least. Commissioner Gordon is stricken with guilt over perpetuating the lie of Harvey Dent's malicious crimes. Gotham is peaceful. Batman is gone. I have to say, in the beginning I was intrigued, wondering where the story would go. Indeed it does take a VERY sharp turn... So, was it everything I hoped for?
You bet your ass it was. I can easily say that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a brilliant film, and a perfect end to a legendary trilogy. Christopher Nolan is firing on all cylinders here, and he ties together threads from the previous two installments nicely. So let's just jump right in here shall we?
First of all, I don't think there is any director out there who can cast a film as perfectly as Christopher Nolan. Christian Bale delivers what I believe to be his best outing as the Caped Crusader, and it's easy to see why this guy is as revered as he is. He brings a humanity and complexity to Bruce Wayne that I've never seen any previous actor do. Sure Bruce Wayne is a rich and powerful man, but somehow Bale makes him seem like a regular guy who is trying as best he can to bring some good to a city that needs it badly. The veteran players also bring their A-game with Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine returning to their respective roles. Special mention goes to Michael Caine who really had some tough emotional scenes in this film that even got me a little misty. (Had to be said).
The new folks breathe some new life into the film as well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows up as Gotham cop John Blake. Blake is an honest man and a very intuitive investigator trying to do good by the city he loves. A product of an orphanage supported by Wayne Enterprises, he sees the good that Bruce Wayne is capable of, and helps to coax him back into society. Marion Cotillard also shows up as Miranda Tate, a board member at Wayne Enterprises who tries to help Bruce get his fusion project off the ground. Anne Hathaway, despite my general indifference towards her, does a fantastic job as Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman. So all in all, the new characters lend a great deal to the story within THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. But, I'm leaving somebody out, because he requires a little more detail...
Tom Hardy delivers one of the most physically intimidating villains of recent memory as the diabolical terrorist Bane. After his intoduction to the story involving one of the most elaborate and visually stunning action sequences in which Bane hijacks a CIA plane and retrieves a hostage, you know you're dealing with a different breed of bad guy. Most of Hardy's face is obstructed by Bane's mask which is explained as a device which provides relief from an agonizing pain that he incurred after a skirmish (I won't elaborate as to give nothing away), yet most of his performance is delivered with his eyes. Hardy seems to be tuned in to how effective eye contact can be (especially when you look the way Bane does) and Nolan capitalizes on this by framing each shot of dialogue directly on Hardy's face. Equally effective is Bane's voice which has been a very contentious issue since the debut of the first trailer. Really, it's one of the most frightening aspects of the character. Sure there were a few instances where I couldn't tell what he was saying, but it did the trick. Hardy's Bane thankfully doesn't compare at all to Heath Ledger's Joker. That's not to compare the two, as no comparison can be made. These are two extremely different villains. Where the Joker tested Batman psychologically, Bane tests Batman physically. Hardy is a really fascinating actor. Over the last couple of years, his star has certainly shined and it's a credit to his ferocious and intense delivery in every film he appears in. For further inspection of Hardy's capability, I recommend you watch BRONSON. You won't be disappointed.
The action sequences in TDKR are incredible. This film hits a fever pitch on the destructo-meter with Nolan practically leveling Gotham throughout the duration. This is certainly an epic film in scope, and definitely the most ambitious of the three Batman installments. We're introduced to Batman's new vehicle, an aerial combat vessel called "The Bat" (not the Batwing, I assume Nolan's attempt to further distance himself from previous films) which lends to some very exciting sequences towards the end of the film. The most jaw-dropping sequences occur after Bane lays seige to the city, destroying almost every avenue of escape. A montage of these events echoes images from 9/11 New York City. It's truly powerful to see, and I suppose Nolan was aware of the type of reaction it may provoke. It makes it all the better to see Batman swoop in to take care of business.
The story is tremendous and there are a few surprises hurled at us toward the end of the picture. (not to mention a definite hint at the expanding of the story... that's all I'll say) As I stated before, Nolan revisits themes from the previous two films which means that if you haven't seen BATMAN BEGINS or THE DARK KNIGHT in a while, you should go back and watch them before taking in TDKR.
I did, and it made the viewing experience that much more thought-provoking. Really, I see all 3 films as one giant film, as the continuity is perfectly in tact.
So, I can happily say that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is an instant classic. Christopher Nolan has created a series of films that are not only great comic book movies, but great movies, period. I suspect that audiences will agree. It's a bittersweet feeling when the credits roll, because you know that Nolan's contribution to the character is complete, but it's left a lasting impression and it's redefined the pedigree of how amazing a "comic book movie" can be. See this film.
SCORE: 5 out of 5 Stars