Release Date: July 20, 2012
Genre(s): Action, Superhero, Crime, Drama
Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan
Running Time: 165 minutes
Adaptation of: Batman by Bob Kane & Bill Finger (Comic)
Synopsis: Following the death of Harvey Dent—for which he took the blame—Bruce Wayne retires as Batman and goes into solitude. Meanwhile, the newly enacted Dent Act has put an end to organized crime and given Gotham it’s long deserved peace. Now, eight years later, a new threat emerges in the form of the maniacal mercenary Bane, who seeks to complete Ra’s al Ghul’s plan to destroy Gotham City so that it may be reborn.
These epic sweeping shots of a hero surveying his city always get me.
I can’t believe this is it—the end of the best damn cinematic Batman saga thus far. Christopher Nolan and company have proved their loyalty and love for the character and his mythos at every turn, and it’s difficult to imagine what comes next. We’ve seen privileged-yet-tormented billionaire Bruce Wayne go from an angry, vengeful young man in Batman Begins to Gotham’s shadowy protector in The Dark Knight, so where does The Dark Knight Rises leave our intrepid vigilante? That answer is not easily given, as Bruce takes the most personal and jarring ride of his life—one that threatens not only his life but everyone’s in the city. This is, rightfully so, unlike anything you’ve seen in a superhero film, and I doubt you will see anything like it in the years to come.
Bane is a goddamned feral beast in this film. I was expecting him to turn Batman into a throw rug at any moment.
The story in The Dark Knight Rises begins in a strange place—eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. We are first introduced to Bane, a masked mercenary who now leads the League of Shadows, during what I believe is the greatest extraction ever filmed. Then, the narrative switches to Bruce Wayne who has retired as Batman, taking the blame for Harvey “Two-Face” Dent’s death and the deaths of those Dent killed, and becomes a recluse. Gotham is in a state of peace, with most criminals are locked up due to the recently enacted Dent Act. That is, until Bane and the League show up to finish Ra’s al Ghul’s work. I won’t go into anymore story specifics, as it’s very easy to spoil this film, and I promise to tread carefully during this assessment. The first thing that struck me, was the long period of time that has passed in the story—eight years is a lot of down time. It makes sense in the context of the story, it’s just hard to imagine Bruce retiring before the age of 30. I also thought that fact they completely ignore The Joker’s existence was kind of ridiculous. I realize they wanted to honor Ledger’s memory, but not even a mention? To dismiss the character he essentially died for seems to not honor Heath at all. It’s difficult to imagine an end to the Batman saga without some type of influence from The Joker—you know, his greatest fucking nemesis. Maybe that’s just me though; anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m batshit crazy about The Joker and was long before Ledger’s portrayal—I’m no joser(like that? I made it up, it’s joker + poser.).
Meow! Hathaway seems to fill that catsuit out nicely…
This is essentially Nolan’s The Dark Knight Returns—Batman coming out of retirement after a long hiatus, Gotham is in peril, and it’s the end of a saga—but with more elements from the Knightfall and No Man’s Land story arcs. Nolan has shown his knowledge and respect for the mythos repeatedly, and that continues here. A couple of times, I thought he was making some drastic “artistic” changes and I began to have negative feelings, but then he snapped me right back on track—he truly is a master storyteller. This film will take you on an emotional roller coaster, and don’t be surprised if you get all misty-eyed, especially during the scenes with father figure Alfred. There was a lot riding on this installment, considering it’s the end, but it delivers. I’m not so sure it could’ve ended any other way, to be perfectly honest. Everything just worked and made sense in the realm of Nolan’s Bat-universe. The introduction of Selina Kyle(never officially called Catwoman) and Bane came at the best and worst possible time in Bruce’s life. Though it does feel slightly disconnected from the two previous installments(most likely due to the time passed), this film is definitely an experience.
While I wouldn’t want to replace Ledger’s Joker, I still think JGL here would’ve been spot-on.
While the film is great, there are a few things that bothered me about it. The movie has so much story to tell in under three hours, that it feels a bit jumbled at times. I don’t think this could’ve been alleviated other than extending the film’s running time, because all the story elements are necessary and engaging. There’s also a couple of plot holes that I refuse to go into as to not spoil the film. And then there’s the few cheesy moments that seem slightly out of place for a serious Batman film. Despite those factors, the film is something to marvel—and the cast and visuals sell it best. The returning cast—Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman among others—continue to be the absolute best all-star ensemble for a Batman franchise. And I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone says: Christian Bale is (currently) the best Batman and Bruce Wayne. Michael Keaton was good, but didn’t completely embody the character(and he wouldn’t stop revealing his goddamn identity to the women he slept with), in my opinion. Bale was my choice before he was even cast though, so I’m a little more invested in him. The new cast members—Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Tom Hardy as Bane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate—all do a fantastic job. Hardy’s Bane is an excellent representation of the best versions of Bane: intelligent, calculating, and physically imposing. This was a great choice for a final villain, and his presence is only amplified by tying him to Ra’s al Ghul—the trilogy comes full circle. JGL’s John Blake is a great original character, who actually kind of reminds me of a strange amalgam of two established characters in the comics. I won’t say which two, part of the fun is deciphering that puzzle yourself and letting the film help you. JGL nails the performance though, as usual. Hathaway did a great job as Catwoman, however, I felt she lacked much of the sex appeal that the character is known for. And as beautiful as she is, she’s just not the knockout that Selina is suppose to be(but then again, neither was Michelle Pfeiffer, really). I think Nolan’s original choice, Jessica Biel, would’ve perhaps been better, but I would’ve chosen Kate Beckinsale, personally. Hathaway still did a great job, and exceeded my expectations though.
This is the biggity-bat’s new ride: The BAT. I assume it stands for something technical, like Badass Assualt Transport.
Even now, having seen the conclusion of Nolan’s Bat-saga, I can’t believe it’s over. The Dark Knight still stands as my all-time favorite film, and while I still prefer that and Batman Begins, this is a welcome and fitting end to an epic trilogy. If you’re a fan of the series, remember the phrase “In Nolan We Trust”—you will not be disappointed. And for those of you that found Bale’s Batman “growl” not to your liking in TDK: it’s much more toned down here, only bordering on ridiculous during one scene of extreme anger. See this as soon as you can—especially to avoid spoilers, because people will be talking about this film for some time. If you can afford it, see it in IMAX, since it was filmed in the format and takes advantage of the incredible scope. Either way, see this ASAP; it’s a glorious spectacle. Batman’s last hurrah, if you will, and it’s totally worth witnessing.