Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman. Ben Mendelsohn, Marion Cotillard
It’s finally here. The Dark Knight Rises not only brings an ending to Christopher Nolan’s epic Dark Knight Trilogy, but also serves as the finale of summer 2012’s trifecta of comic book heroes. It’s been an embarrassment of riches so far this summer and we may be ending with the best one yet. Christopher Nolan along with an astounding cast continue to push the limits of the comic book genre. With ambitious storytelling and a near endless scope The Dark Knight Rises shows what is possible when you give tools to talented filmmakers that have willing imaginations to go beyond the limitations of the genre. The jury is still out on where The Dark Knight Rises falls in comic book history lore. However, what is immediately evident is that even with enormous expectations this film was put under it able to rise to the occasion to become an awesome experience unlike few others.
It has been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight and with the help of Harvey Dent’s legacy Gotham has grown to be a rather peaceful city. The legacy of Harvey Dent allowed laws to be put into place that aided to end corruption in the city full of crooks. Unbeknownst to the leaders of Gotham a terrorist madman is planning on bringing an end to the facade Batman and Commissioner Gordon have created. That terrorist leader is the masked force of nature Bane played by Tom Hardy. Hardy fits the character well in what is less of a performance and more of a presence. Playing a role that requires you to wear a mask that completely inhibits any type of facial movement could have been a thankless job. What makes it work is the nonchalant way Hardy takes on the character. If the Joker was a masochist who enjoyed pain Bane was someone who simply ignored it. While others reveled in the destruction they caused he looked upon it as inevitability. Hardy sold the role and it was easy to buy him as a physical power. There a few who could have made this character work the way Hardy did. It helped that he had Nolan’s storytelling behind him. In the comics Bane is known for his meticulous planning that rivals the mind of Batman. Well his plot in this surely shouldn’t disappointment. Nolan is not afraid to be cruel to his characters as he plunges their lives into sheer torment. For Batman to become that symbol of hope he is destined to be he is required to go through endless trials and tribulations. While his body is tested the true feat he must overcome is one he has been wrestling with since he first down the cape and cowl.
Besides Bane The Dark Knight Rises brings a number of new characters to the franchise including Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. Ann Hathaway’s was a very dynamic Catwoman. She was graceful yet maintained a strong sex appeal. Hathaway had cynical wit that made her the perfect counterpart to Batman. Like you would expect their relationship was complicated and adds a bit a personality to the Batman character. Catwoman playing a big role was expected. What was unexpected was the character of John Blake. The less you know about the character the better, but it’s safe to say he was one of my favorite parts of the film. Every time he was on screen his character was being defined. Just like the film itself a moment was never wasted. When talking about characters you cannot leave out Christian Bale as Batman. Yes we all know about the “voice”, but that one aspect unfairly overshadows what Bale has done with this character. Many argued that The Dark Knight was Joker’s film while Batman took a backseat. Those who were annoyed by that fact will be happy to know that even with all the other characters in The Dark Knight Rises the core of the story is all Batman.
As we come to expect with Nolan’s franchise the story is grand and heavily influenced by real world politics. This time around that influence did come on a little too strong as it was relentlessly put in your face. That along with the themes seem more heavy-handed then I would expect from a Nolan script, but in the end these crimes are easy to forgive. When you put in the time to make a comic book summer blockbuster with such fantastic filmmaking I can easily overlook clumsy dialogue because it earned the right to be forceful with its message. When you have an amazing set piece like the one this starts with its easy to get on board right away. The biggest cleaning agent that wipes away the plot hole smudges is the ominous score by Hans Zimmer. I was a huge fan of Zimmer’s scores and this may be one of his best yet. Like a great score should it elevates the material making it the cherry on top the smorgasbord of movie goodness.
This ending is without a doubt bittersweet. Nolan resurrected the Batman film franchise beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. The Dark Knight Rises may not be the pinnacle of that success but it is a big part of it. It will take you to the deepest pits of despair and the highest of hope as it celebrates the heart of heroes. It transcends the genre because it is respectful to the source material but neverbeholden to it. People walk in with a lot of knowledge of the source material and walk out with a better understanding of it. He gives a reason for Bruce Wayne to be Batman outside simple revenge. He gives us a reason to love these movies beyond the fact they are about an iconic character we love. We could sit back and poke holes all we want and raise the overrated banner. Do that if you would like but I’m going to enjoy what we have been given. We may never see something like this again and I for one am going to live in the moment.