Not since the original [#4, 5, 6] trilogy of Star Wars have I been so invested in a movie trilogy, only in this case, I have been able to experience the films as they come out in theaters. A few years ago I was introduced to Christopher Nolan after seeing Batman Begins, leading me to watch both Memento and The Prestige, and I was hooked. Nolan has a very serious, heavy tone to his films that is very drawing, and he tends to come up with some seriously awesome twists and surprises. After the success of The Dark Knight, I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t be anticipating this final film, but the expectations are probably higher than anyone could hope to achieve. That’s why I was only ever hoping for this movie to just be an epic conclusion to the series, it didn’t have to be the best movie ever made, it just had to fit in with the previous two films. And if there is one thing I could say about my expectations versus the results, it is this: I was not disappointed.
The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the end of the last film, and Gotham is in a time of peace. Bruce Wayne, played by Christian Bale, has become a crippled recluse after the condemning of Batman, and Commisioner Gordon, played by Gary Oldman fresh off his best actor nomination, is about to be fired, for he is a war hero in a time of peace. But when another masked vigilante named Bane is found to be working towards some dastardly deed in the sewers of the city, Gordon takes back the reigns of the police force, and Batman makes a timely return, although the police and media are still out to get him. After a few run-ins with the jewel thief Selena, played by Anne Hathaway, Wayne decides to enlist her help in finding Bane, who Selena is currently in debt to. It turns out that Batman was lead into a trap, and in a losing effort fights Bane mono y mono, and Bane breaks Batman’s back, but does not kill him. He instead leaves him in an old prison in the middle of no-where, where only one person has ever escaped, with a television hooked up so he can see the eventual destruction of Gotham that Bane himself will be bringing on. It is only when Wayne can learn the real fear of death and the reason why we fall before the Dark Knight can rise.
With a run time of 164 minutes, this movie is an investment. In all honesty, it could have been split up into two movies easily. I don’t think Nolan wanted to do such a thing, so he instead made one really long epic tale to conclude the trilogy. With the same heavy style of The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, I don’t know if everyone can handle the run time of this film, but if you really are a fan of Batman and the series so far, than I really think this was an awesome way to go about ending it, giving us almost two movies in one. This movie was made with the word “epic” in mind. In TDK, Nolan only had one shot that used an IMAX camera, one sweeping the city of Gotham in a helicopter, but in TDKR, there were many more. An avid speaker against 3D and the switch to digital from film, Nolan really has an eye for stunning IMAX camera shots, and seeing this movie anywhere but an IMAX theater seems like a crime against humanity. Combined with these huge establishing shots and awesome car/motorcylce/flying bat mobile scenes is the most insane audio I have ever heard in a film. It was almost to the point of painful the sound was so loud. Every gun shot quaked with the force of a nuclear explosion, and the iconic soundtrack shook the entire theater multiple times. Again, the word that comes to mind: epic.
One factor in the length of this film was the broadening of the story to include more characters. Not counting Tom Hardy as the new villain, Bane, we are given three new main characters in addition to the usual trio: Batman/Bruce Wayne, Michael Cane‘s Alfred the butler, and the head of Wayne Enterprises and supplier of Batman’s equipment, Mr. Fox, played by Morgan Freeman. Although there is a hole to fill with Rachel out of the story, we now have three additional leading faces: Anne Hathaway as Selena, better known as ‘Catwoman’ [although they never call her that in the movie], Joseph Gordon-Levitt as officer Blake, a Gotham police officer who knows Batman’s true identity, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda, an investor in one of Wayne’s big projects and eventual co-head of Wayne Enterprises. Hell, you even have Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson making cameo appearances to reprise their roles. Although it is hard to have a film give the time each of these characters the time they need to make them necessary to the story, every single actor in this film does a wonderful job filling their own roles, especially Hathaway as the sexy, seductive, mysterious Catwoman. I don’t know if there is a stronger combination of beauty and acting ability in the world right now. If there was an award for stealing the show from Bale, who was incredible as always, it would have to be either Hathaway or Cane, who has several emotional scenes that may require you to bring a box of tissues to the showing.
The story was one of true comic book nature, and I’m glad they stuck to what Batman actually is: a comic book. The villain, Bane, even has a voice as ridiculous as Batman’s is, and I think that is perfect for a comic book villain. With all sorts of trials and tribulations, failures and bleak outlooks, suspense and action, ups and downs, surprises left and right, the story is fitting for one last hurrah for the series. I can’t get over how similar all three of these movies were made, I felt as if I had just walked out of TDK right into TDKR, something I’ve never felt more from a movie series before. The finale stuck to it’s dark roots all the way to the end, and you are left feeling fully satisfied with the end ad future of this fiction’s future.
The final point worth talking about is the re-watch-ability. With this run-time and slow, dark pacing, I’m not sure if myself or anyone else will be capable or willing to sit down and watch this movie or The Dark Knight in it’s entirety after the initial viewing. It is a quality that is hard to specify. Although both Dark Knight films are awesome in my opinion, I don’t really want to go and watch either of them again. The same goes for Inception. It is something in the way Nolan writes/directs his movies, I guess. That is probably why I like Batman Begins the most, for I can go and watch that movie on any given day and enjoy myself. It is a thought-provoking subject, if I do say so.
3/4 – The Dark Knight Rises literally rises above and beyond the concept of an ‘epic’ finale. A long run-time, huge IMAX camera work, ear shattering audio, twists and surprises, and enough falling and getting back up to last a lifetime, this movie is straight crazy. Although it is not on it’s own a masterpiece or as good of a movie as the first or second film, this one does it’s job in concluding the series in line with the previous two films, and is just as epic as you could hope for.