The Dark Knight Rises

Posted: July 20, 2012 in Movie Reviews

The hero that Gotham needs and deserves has returned to restore good.

What began as the birth of a legend back in 2005 has brought us to this pivotal moment in 2012. Especially given the place that we left Batman in The Dark Knight, the biggest question on our minds for the past three years is what the last and final chapter in the Batman trilogy would include. And, ladies and gentlemen, let me assure that this film is well worth the wait. The culmination of the Batman legacy was, to say the least, a masterpiece that not only leaves you completely satisfied, but also gives you a sense of longing for more.

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Summary: (May contain spoilers)

Eight years after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes, Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) finds himself unable to move on with his life, struggling with the need to put on the Batman mask and prove himself to the people of Gotham.

After a mysterious masked man known as Bane (played by Tom Hardy—-Inception) makes himself known to the world, Bruce takes advantage of this opportunity to get back into the game. However, Alfred (played by the incomparable Michael Caine) does not share his enthusiasm. “I won’t bury you,” he says. “I’ve buried enough members of the Wayne family.”

Alfred, instead, urges Bruce to have a life with a family, away from all the pain and misery that has haunted him for the past eight years. After Bruce takes into his confidence a cat burglar called Selina Kyle, or more well-known to the comics as “Catwoman” (played by Anne Hathaway), Batman infiltrates the sewers below the city where dwells the masked man and his small army.

Bane—-the perfect title for a man possessing so much lethal cunning.

Greatly underestimating his foe, who with the help of a mask supplying a type of steroid, possesses incredible and lethal strength, Batman unknowingly takes him on. Bane breaks Batman like a hurricane breaks a tree, battering him within an inch of his life. But he doesn’t kill him. Instead, he leaves Bruce in a prison, broken physically and in spirit, and lets him watch while the masked terrorist takes over his city.

Bound and determined to rise from the pit he’s in, to restore himself to peak perfection, to give Gotham back the hero it needs, Bruce escapes and returns to Gotham. With the help of his old friend Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), along with rookie cop John Blake (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt—-Inception), Batman begins the task of restoring his city to justice and putting an end to Bane’s reign of terror forever.

[Note: there is far more to the plot than revealed here.]

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 My initial concern with this film was how Christopher Nolan, after giving us two such well-crafted and fantastic films, would be able to deliver a climax that lives up to our extreme expectations. Now don’t get me wrong, I had complete faith in the man that fashioned such incredible films as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Prestige. (I would highly recommend all of these films, by the way.) I was sincerely hopeful that Nolan, on his last Batman film, would have one more trick up his sleeve, one last incredible story, one grand finale to wow even the most exuberant of Batman enthusiasts.

What he gave us was, in short, a revolutionary film that surpasses even The Dark Knight. It is a rare thing to be able to create a sequel that audiences esteem even more than the original. It is even rarer to find a third film that still manages to create the same level of enthusiasm and energy without getting corny. Christopher Nolan has proved, three times now, that he is one of the only capable directors to take Batman to a whole new level, to give us something fresh and still evoke cheers from the audience.

But rather than leave the past Batman films in the dust, The Dark Knight Rises builds upon the foundation previously laid. Each film works coherently with the other, creating a truly perfect trilogy that hasn’t been seen since The Lord of the Rings.

Batman Begins showed the frailty of mankind and its need for a savior. The Dark Knight portrayed human depravity and just how delicate the status quo really can be. And The Dark Knight Rises continues in the tradition of moral teaching in depicting what happens when we lose faith in those we truly need, and think that the world can function normally without them.

Meow.

This is what sets Batman apart from every other super-hero. He is what we need him to be. A hero. An enemy. A savior. A criminal. Even though we know the truth, the truth is not always apparent to all. Injustice does occur, fault is often blamed on the wrong person. But just like we learned in Batman Begins, the reason we fall is so that we can learn to pick ourselves up. So we can rise from the mire we find ourselves in.

My second concern was how Nolan would be able to conjure up a villain that could even compare to Heath Ledger and his incredible performance, much less actually surpass it. But of course, like everything else, Nolan outdid himself. What we have is a villain that not only shares the Joker’s desire to watch the world burn, but also aspires to set an example and establish a reign of tyranny. Plus, not only does he pose a serious threat to Batman’s very being, but he even knows Batman’s identity! Physically, the Joker couldn’t really contend with the caped crusader, and even though he tried, he never did find out who he was.

If the Joker represents a criminal with brains, then Bane represents a criminal with brawn. The perfect enemy to Batman; his very presence, his aura, creates a feeling of dread. Even his maniacal voice alone, though it’s difficult to make out at times, makes your hair stand on end. He makes Darth Vader appear almost cheesy. Truly, Batman’s worst enemy and perhaps one of the best movie villains of all time.

It’s like the final showdown at the OK Corral

In all other respects, this film was stunning. It keeps you guessing right up until the end. And this film literally earns first place for best ending ever! Everything before is ups and downs. Terrorism, hope. Sorrow, enthusiasm. Despair, reassurance. But not only does the end leave you completely satisfied, but lets you know that no matter how dark or horrible it may become, the dawn always comes. And when it does, the sun shines clearly enough to blot out all the misery and gloom that preceded.

I cannot think of a better way to end this fantastic journey. To come so far with this iconic character, to see him begin, fall, and rise, has visually and emotionally been spectacular.  I can truly say, as an avid fan of the Batman lore, that it has been my true pleasure to partake in this absolutely enthralling adventure.

So here we are, at the end of it all, wishing for more. Wishing that Chris Nolan will change his mind about never making another Batman film. Wishing that the caped crusader will come back once again to fight another day. But just as Batman eventually must end, the question for Nolan is: Who will take up his mantle? Will someone else come along, eager to pick up where we’ve left off? As for me, I can only say that the day will never  come when we no longer need Batman.

 

 

10 stars

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