Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises' Ends An Epic Trilogy With An Exclamation Point
Note: Batman Begins set the standard, The Dark Knight raised the bar, and The Dark Knight Rises ends a psychological epic trilogy with a bold exclamation point.
There’s a heart-pounding, intellectual and visceral momentum to The Dark Knight Rises, and it’s a harsh reality why its cinematic boot-prints not only do justice for this rare, flawless, black diamond, but the trilogy’s success! That said, no matter how many things seem to be taken care of during the run of one film, they always lead to something bigger in the next.
Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) lives in self-imposed exile in the recesses of Wayne Manor as his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) plays intermediary with the public. His CEO Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) struggles to keep his company afloat, and perhaps most significantly, his alter ego Batman languishes in infamy for the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
Although Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has effectively rid Gotham City’s streets of thousands of violent criminals, the crime-fighter encounters an adversary far tougher than he can handle. Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked, muscle-bound sociopath is assembling an army beneath the streets of the city. Meanwhile, a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) desperately attempts to do away her criminal . A beat cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) struggles to come to terms with the self-imposed bureaucracy that seems to have replaced integrity and honor with higher-ups in his own force.
Brutally intertwined with physical and technological force, Bane aims to wipe out Bruce Wayne’s monetary reserves, forcing Batman to re-enter the realm of dark justice. But after Bane accomplishes Gotham’s citizens to go against one another, intimidate cops and hatches a full-proof plan to destroy all of Gotham City, Batman is forced to collaborate with both the authorities and a few criminals in order to try and stop this new breed of enemy from unleashing a wave of death and destruction that will ruin the city’s progress for good!
Seeing as reports during the fall of 2011 while shooting in NYC (a/k/a “Gotham”), sequences at locations where Occupy Wall Street protesters inhabited, it comes as little surprise that the story’s core weighs heavily on class warfare and fear-mongering.
A major chunk of what makes this brilliant film work is how Nolan manages to make the intellectual concept visceral: Bane is a brutal symbol of both an invincible, force-of-nature terrorism and the kind of political manipulation that conspiracy theorists claim politicians use in order to get themselves into power. Bane is also a physical threat to Batman and an institutional one to Gotham. Where Heath Ledger’s Joker was a primal force wreaking havoc from some dark and terrifying place within an abyss of the human soul, Bane is a specimen of both strength and intelligence. Understanding not only how to destroy the city, but the sociological and cultural implications of that destruction.
Mind you, it’s difficult to characterize the kind of horror that helps form The Dark Knight Rises’ story because its psychological impact thrives upon different fears: the deterioration of society, lost of trust among the law, and the physical destruction from an unstoppable impact!
This movie owes a lot to several iconic Batman comic book story-lines. Nolan admirably ties them together in a way that’s pretty damn smart and good. The confrontation between Batman and Bane, for example, is among the most famous battles in the character’s history. But it’s placed into the filmmaker’s interest in what each character represents culturally and more impressively, makes their actual showdown a metaphor for each other's ambitions, fears and insecurities.
The end result is an amazingly gritty, brutal, barbaric fight that in one case defines and another shatters the core identity of the character. It becomes more than just a physical confrontation.
The same can be said for John Blake’s importance in the comic books, which is well-known enough by fans that they will undoubtedly assume that they can “anticipate” what will happen with him. But Nolan makes him into an important character who reflects the core idea behind Batman -- at least to Batman himself -- which is that anyone could be behind that mask and simultaneously observes that it doesn’t take a mask to be a hero. And rather than simply fulfilling the expectations of an audience (or say, setting up some future series), the character’s journey reflects a transformation within the world of the movies, from failure, corruption and chaos to hope and idealism.
A lot can also be said regarding Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul whose ties in 2005’s Batman Begins (originally played by Ken Watanabe) holds lots of psychological unrest regarding a rebirth, and a new optimistic view of ideals upon our country.
Whether The Dark Knight Rises embodies our time period or not can be argued time and time again. But the core of Nolan’s trilogy doesn’t steer away from reality between complexities among a world full of what some see as oppressiveness, and others as their oyster. Perhaps multiple viewings of all three films may be needed in order to let it grow within your system, but truth is this is where Batman films and/or DC may differ from Marvel’s marvels. The difference between both is Marvel’s openness among hope with Disney (no pun) type endings, while DC’s Batman (or Nolan’s) holds humility among realism and painful ties which encircle it.
As one peels away at the film’s intellect, The Dark Knight Rises also provides explosive action sequences, fine-tuned CGI, and a great musical score!
Overall, the film represents everything and anything that entails filmmaking. Combining art and loads of money from WB, it would be so unfair if this didn’t receive some kind of Oscar nod. With talent playing their roles unbelievably well and a well paced story which goes on without any kind of crack, this isn’t a film one can only watch once.
Grade: A+ / Genre: Action/Adventure, Mystery & Suspense / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2 Hrs. 45 Min.
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Caine
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Maxim's 2013 Hot 100 Party Pics: Miley Cyrus, Kellie Pickler & More! Review: ‘Fast & Furious 6’ Redefines Action In More Ways Than One!