Release Date: July 20, 2012 (2D theaters and IMAX)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenwriter: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Genre: Action, Thriller
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language)
Official Website: TheDarkKnightRises.com
it’s been over 73 years since Bob Kane’s creation of the Batman, and in that time, the caped crusader has been the butt of much negativity; violence, vigilantism, negative viewpoints on homosexuality, and so on and so forth. Fredric Wertham led a movement that tried to minimize the exposure children had to comics in general, with the Bat and bird taking the center stage as examples. Batman endured however and became one of the most recognizable icons in American history, and possibly the world.
Nolan’s third film not only ends his Batman trilogy, but also brings a sense of closure to the Batman legacy that’s lasted for almost 75 years. Within the pantheon of superheroes, Batman has almost always reigned supreme, and now we, as fans, are given the opportunity to see Batman in his finest hour, embracing that cultural symbol he has become within our society.
The Dark Knight Rises attempts spinning the 73 year legacy into a fantastic conclusion using elements established in the first two films. However, there’s also the Wayne’s side of the story. Let’s be honest, we don’t actually SEE Batman (Christian Bale) that often do we? Batman makes an epic entrance onto the streets of Gotham, but then Bruce hangs the cape and cowl up until we pass the half way point in the movie. During Wayne’s lull and fickle attitude towards becoming Batman again, we meet two new villains – Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), and Bane (Tom Hardy), both of which play very significant parts, as well as very different roles in the story.
First you have Catwoman, who isn’t really a bad guy, she’s just a thief. She’s gorgeous, but not overly sexual. She’s confident, but knows her limits. She has some skills and training, but isn’t comically ninja. And while she’s never actually referred to as Catwoman, she retains that sliver of Selena Kyle’s comic book personality that made her so interesting. I love Michelle Pfeiffer, but Hathaway did one hell of a job in making Catwoman a part of the story while not sticking out like a sore thumb.
Bane has always been somewhat of an idiot in the comics, TV, and movies. (Especially the movies. Who can forget that horrendous version of the super soldier from the 1997 Joel Schumacher film?) Nolan has finally given Bane a reason for existing, and Tom Hardy brought him to life. Bane’s presence out shined every other actor on the screen, and just like Catwoman, Bane had a nice character alterations in comparison to the comic. There’s was no super soldier serum being pumped from a pack strapped to his back, but the pain he endured from breaking the pain numbing device strapped to his face left him recognizable but no where near as comical.
But TDKR is more than it’s stellar cast – it’s a fantastic journey into the life of a torn individual masking himself in the guise of Bruce Wayne, only to reveal his true self within a cape and cowl. The Dark Knight was focused on Harvey Dent and the Joker, showing that Gotham truly is just a sick and twisted as Ra’s Al Ghul believed it to be. Filled with plot twists, great action, philosophical and physchological elements, amazing film making techniques, and a few returning surprises from the previous two films, Nolan’s Batman trilogy is arguably one of the best movie sagas in cinema history.
Nolan borrows themes from the first two films and slips them right into his third installment. Eight years after Harvey Dent’s death, Gotham has reached some semblance of peace and order – and the deceased white knight is praised for it. However, Commissioner Gordon is tormented by the lie of Dent’s heroism and Batman’s criminal nature. Enter Bane, who plans to reveal the truth to Gotham, and to continue Ra’s Al Ghul’s “noble” work and make certain he succeeds where the Joker failed.
Thus follows a series of events where Bane threatens all life in Gotham through poetic oratory and intense battle scenes. However, amongst all the action, TDKR takes a surprisingly slower pace in the first 40 minutes, developing a story around Bruce and Alfred’s relationship, which might be some of the more powerful and emotional moments in the film.
Bruce Wayne, eight years after the Two-Face incident, is no longer in his prime – walking around with a bum leg and cane to hold himself up. But his leg isn’t the only thing in a fragile state. Bruce Wayne’s mind has reached a low point – forcibly drawn into exile and suffering the repercussions of his choices while trying to find some way to come back and bring himself together.
I think everyone who’s seen the film would agree that the last 40 minutes are spectacular. Nolan brought back a few villains from the previous two films, which is an aspect of the franchise that resembles the comics better than most comic book films. With the exception Al Ghul and Two – Face, the villains in Nolan’s Batverse don’t die – The Scarecrow has made an appearance in every film for goodness sakes! And I suspect that, had heath Ledger not succumb to drug abuse, the Joker would have made a come back as well.
This film also pushes some boundaries. You may think you’ve seen a city crumble in action movies before, but not like how you’ll see in TDKR. It also brings an anarchist center point in play, making America’s fear of terrorism and the crash of an economy the focus of Bane’s onslaught.
A few minor complaints include Bane’s somewhat hard to understand diction. I could always understand what he said, but I had to really listen. (Hooray for speakers and an overly excited bass amplifier.) And with Bruce Wayne playing hermit in his mansion, crippled and otherwise never seen by the public, why would anyone want to hire a cat-burgler to attach his name (and finger prints) to a few bad investments? I also wondered what the heck happened to Selina Kyle’s girlfriend. She just…vanished!
Of course, I took these tiny flaws lightly as the full 2 hours and 45 minutes of the film kept me locked and loaded, ready for anything! Sure, you’ll find yourself wondering if Batman will ever show up at times, but if you allow yourself to sit back and enjoy a film attempting to try a new approach with the Wayne legacy, the Batman legacy will become that much more enjoyable for you.
Also, I won’t spoil it for you, but if you read the Batman comics, you’ll see one character’s alter-ego coming a mile away, but you may have trouble figuring the other one out. It’s hard to go further than that…just trust me on this one.
The Dark Knight was a better film, but no doubt, TDKR is one of the best comic book films in history.