Nolan’s long awaited third Batman film is an excellent finale and will not disappoint
By Jimmy Gillman
Despite being a dozen or so minutes too long with a villain that suffers from the inevitable comparison to Heath Ledger’s peerless performance as the Joker, The Dark Knight Rises is an excellent final chapter to writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and will not disappoint fans of the series or movie watchers in general.
Nolan’s rebooting of the Batman franchise was something of a reinvention of the popular comic book genre when Batman Begins was released in 2005. Gone were the cartoon plots and cardboard characters, replaced by complex themes and convoluted players who were not simple representations of good and evil. Add to that the dark, film noir-like tone Nolan injected, and what audiences got was an authentic, serious drama whose characters happened to come from a comic book.
Batman Begins used its spectacularly mounted action sequences and special effects only in support of its richly drawn characters and multifaceted plot, not the other way around as was previously (and still is) the case with these kinds of films. Although, to be fair, Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) laid the groundwork and were dramatically based, as was Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003).
Nolan took things even deeper in 2008’s The Dark Knight, a dark, brooding tale that introduced unsettling topical storylines, strong adult themes, brutal, realistically depicted violence, a truly frightening and sinister menace in the form of the Joker and an all too rare less-than-happy-ending.
Those overall qualities thankfully persist in The Dark Knight Rises, a film whose plot structure more closely resembles Batman Begins, but whose anarchistic attitudes and contemporary entanglements are closer to The Dark Knight. Far from schizophrenic, however, Nolan (who co-wrote the emotional screenplay with his brother, Jonathan) has managed to combine these halves into a near-flawless whole with a story that brings the trilogy full circle and an ending that’s nothing less than perfect.
This final installment picks up eight years after The Dark Knight when a hobbled and reclusive Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale, outstanding) is no longer Batman having taken the fall for the killing of Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent so the man once seen as Gotham’s savior could remain a hero/martyr in the eyes of its citizens (even though he had secretly become the criminal, Two-Face).
No longer needed or wanted by the people of Gotham, Batman is pressed back into service after a terrorist called Bane (Tom Hardy) launches a wave of attacks on the Gotham Stock Exchange and sets about stirring up class warfare in scenes of social unrest that are genuinely terrifying. But Bane and his legions turn out to be more than an out-of-shape Caped Crusader can handle, setting Gotham on a collision course with a nuclear bomb.
Many, many developments unfold as new characters enter the fray throughout the film, including cat burglar extraordinaire, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway, excellent, and the best Catwoman ever, although she is never referred to as such by name). In fact, all of the film’s performances are top notch as are the incredible production designs, cinematography and directing.
There are also some terrific tie-ins to the previous films that manage to clean up any loose ends, but to detail these would only serve to spoil the intrigue and surprises in store, which are best left for audiences to discover. Suffice it to say The Dark Knight Rises was well worth the four year wait, making Nolan’s Batman trilogy the finest trio of comic book-based films yet made.
Authors Note: The Dark Knight Rises is shot in both the IMAX (1.78) and Panavision (2.40) formats. It switches seamlessly between the two throughout the film.