One of the most anticipated films of the year lives up to the hype and provides a surprisingly emotional ending to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
Who’s in it? Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Officer Blake), Michael Caine (Alfred), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox)
What’s it about? Eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight, and Gotham City appears to be thriving. But the good times are all based on a lie. Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes and he—and Bruce Wayne—have been out of the public eye ever since. But after cat-burglar Selina Kyle piques Wayne’s curiosity and the beast-of-a-terrorist Bane unveils his plan to destroy Gotham, Wayne thinks he might be ready to suit up once more. Encouraged by his old friend Commissioner Gordon and fiery police officer John Blake, Wayne shakes off the warnings and ignores the pleas of his father-figure Alfred and prepares to take on Bane and save Gotham.
What’s good? Almost everything. I assure you that I was extremely cynical going into this film, figuring there was no possible way The Dark Knight Rises could live up to the hype that’s been building for over a year. While I thought Nolan’s previous two Batman installments were excellent and he’s one of my favorite directors overall, I by no means consider myself a fangirl of this franchise. But from literally the first moments of the first scene of TDKR, I was hooked, and felt like I was holding my breath for the remaining 164 minutes. Whether it was a quiet, tear-jerking scene between Alfred and Bruce, a sequence of Bane and his thugs wreaking havoc, or a thrilling chase involving one of Batman’s new (astonishingly cool) vehicular toys, I was captivated.
I was also shocked by how much I loved Anne Hathaway in this film, because as longtime Redblog readers know, she usually bugs the bejeezus out of me. But her Selina Kyle was sarcastic, witty, impressively agile and believable. Less surprising was yet another compelling performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the earnest, impatient Officer Blake, whose character unknowingly personified the “anyone can be a hero” theme. When I step back and think about all of the other superhero franchises, I have to believe that the reason Nolan’s trilogy is ultimately superior is because you care about and feel like you personally know ALL of “the good guys.” Gordon, Alfred, Lucius, and now Blake—I was just as concerned, if not more concerned, about the fate of these characters as I was about how the story would end for Bruce and his alter-ego.
One more thing I have to call attention to is the film’s use of sound. Alfred’s desperate pleas echoing down an empty hall. A lone, angelic voice singing the national anthem at a packed stadium. Abrupt flips between eerie silence as Gotham comes under attack and bursts of police-radio transmissions. These moments gave me chills.
What could’ve been better? While you have to hand it to Hardy for physically transforming himself into a man-gorilla for his role, Bane still fell far short of the brilliance of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Bane was just kind of like this pissed-off pro-wrestler-looking dude strutting around in a Hannibal Lecter-like mask and wool-lined trench, causing destruction for no apparent reason. This led the direct face-offs between Bane and Batman to be not s0 exciting (and it didn’t help that those face-offs were mostly hand-to-hand combat sequences where it looked awkward for these two big guys to be dancing around each other).
The bottom line: While the final chapter of Nolan’s Batman films didn’t see its superhero battling an especially memorable villain, absolutely everything else about the movie outweighed that small disappointment. With standout performances from the entire cast, haunting cinematography and use of sound and a nail-biter of a final sequence, The Dark Knight Rises closes out the trilogy on a high, emotionally satisfying note.
Redbox movies featuring the team from The Dark Knight Rises: