On July 20, the third installation of Christopher Nolan’s story on the Dark Knight came out in theaters. Once more, Batman was staged to take the big screen in the final installation of what many hoped to be an incredible trilogy. After the success of its predecessor, The Dark Knight, expectations for The Dark Knight Rises were high, including my own. In my hometown, theaters had been sold out for opening weekend for nearly a month before the movie was to release nationwide. I was eager to see it – overeager, to be completely honest.
Nolan is known for his intricate approach to film and after such stunning performances by the likes of Ledger and Bale, what was going to make this film any better? Those who follow the comic know that Bane is a brutal character, to some…the epitome of Batman villains. Would this performance by Tom Hardy prove such? And what about those other characters who haven’t been showcased in the past two films? Robin? Poison Ivy? Cat Woman? Penguin? I had to know. Being the movie buff that I am, I went and saw the film. These are my thoughts.
The Dark Knight Rises picks up in Gotham City, some 8 years after the fall of Harvey Dent. Dent, now proclaimed as Gotham’s white knight, is being heralded as the real hero who fought for justice and cleaned up the streets of Gotham. In Wayne Manor, we find Bruce, who has taken the fall for Dent’s disaster upon the city, presently lives as a billionaire shut-in, which now must move about with the assistance of a cane. The dark vigilante, it seems, has sunken further into the shadows and in the aftermath of The Joker, has few compatriots, save for Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), who knows the truth about Dent, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), the current operator of Wayne Enterprises, and Bruce Wayne’s beloved butler, Alfred (Michael Caine). In light of many lost characters from earlier installations, there are a few new faces to behold, including a cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), “hot head(ed)” cop, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), philanthropist, Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), and a severe, Bane (Tom Hardy).
On the brink of political unrest, Gotham is a city prime for upheaval. Enter Bane, who tears into Gotham’s fragmented infrastructure with such criminal intelligence that it’s almost impressive. The citizens of Gotham are primed to be overrun by Bane and his idea of revolution. Much like Dickens, who wrote of The Jacques, and their storming of the Bastille, we see a city that could implode at any moment. Different from Joker, Bane is more of a brawler, but still every bit the terrorist. He adds to the anarchic manifesto begun in the previous film by telling the citizens of Gotham to “do as you please,” and here the stage is set where Batman must intervene or watch the city his family has built perish in the ashes of chaos and self-rule.
Nolan is solid in how he repackaged the classic parallel of good vs. evil. Although a common story, the themes of good and evil, light and dark, truth vs. injustice are ever at the forefront of the film. This dichotomy shows all the more at critical moments where, literally, Bruce must rise from a dark pit, find his strength, face an unwaning evil, and fight for the citizens of his city. What is even more, is that Batman alone, is not enough, rather he must turn to those closest to him to survive the terror sweeping Gotham, thus producing a greater climax as the movie develops and a twist many may not see coming.
While Hardy’s performance as Bane is captivating, The Dark Knight Rises is perhaps only amiss in matching Ledger’s performance as The Joker. Batman’s new gadgetry is captivating, especially in how it sustains the hero through desperate measures. As for essentials such as, plot, action, character development, emotional depth, etc., the film is engaging from start to finish, which at a runtime of 165 minutes, Nolan does well to keep the viewer in their seat.
Ultimately, the final chapter of the Dark Knight saga is compelling and well worth the purchase of a movie ticket. If you plan to see it (and you should), then any IMAX theater will do in providing the pinnacle experience. The Dark Knight Rises goes further than the limited perspective many superhero movies are known for – more than eye candy, it is a film that explores the crushing world-views of terror and fear, ideas all too common to our nation in the past decade. In lieu of such incidents, Christopher Nolan illustrates through a vigilante-hero, that when the world is breaking, we must strive to fix it and if we fall, it’s so we can “get back up again”.