Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven
Studios: Legendary Pictures, Syncopy Films, DC Comics
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Batman movies have had their ups and downs. Tim Burton renewed the franchise with his two movie adaptions which were a darker tone than when Adam West donned the cape and cowl. Both movies were blockbusters in the summers of 1989 and 1991 respectively. But the franchise was nearly killed when Joel Schumaker took over as director for the two sequels that followed. For a while, Batman has been hanging on through animated TV series and movies. The movie aspect seemed lost until in 2005 “Batman Begins” was released. Christopher Nolan brought the franchise back to the box office in a big way. The second movie, “The Dark Knight”, kept the momentum going. And the third film gives the Caped Crusader an honorable send off.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is the third and final film of the Batman franchise to be directed by Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale behind the cape and cowl. The movie is set eight years following the events of “The Dark Knight” and Bruce Wayne has gone into hiding, taking Batman with him. Thanks to Harvey Dent’s act, crime in Gotham City is at an all-time low, thus rendering the need for the man in black. During that time, Batman is all but forgotten. Bruce has had time to reflect on the past events that led to the deaths of his friend Harvey Dent and his love interest Rachel Dawes and the lie he has been living. To top it off, Bruce is also facing financial ruin. This movie really shows emotion. It was interesting to see what happens to a man who loses his fight both in his real life and secret life. Ever faithful Alfred stays by his master’s side, encouraging him like a kindly grandfather to live his life without Batman. I like how the father/son type relationship between Bruce and Alfred is played out just as it is in the comic. However, this bond is strained when Alfred tells Bruce the truth about Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face—a secret he has kept to himself to protect someone he cares for so much. Bruce feels betrayed and finds it difficult to forgive a man he saw as a second father.
Bruce soon has a run-in with Selina Kyle at a charity ball. His first encounter with her was at his home where she was disguised as a maid and had stolen his mother’s pearl necklace. They share an intimate moment during a dance. This took me back for a moment to the same scene in “Batman Returns” with Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer. Bruce takes a liking to her even though he found out who she is. Playfully seductive as always, Selina slips away from him, taking the keys to his car, which Bruce finds out afterward. “The Dark Knight Rises” is a slow builder to the real meat of the story but this to show the more “human” side of Bruce Wayne, to really get to know the man behind cape and cowl. He harbors guilt and regret to the point where he fails to see the larger picture and how it affects those around him both as Bruce Wayne and Batman. It takes a while to build to the action but when it does—whoa nelly!
The new antagonist is a mercenary turned terrorist Bane who is as cunning and wicked as they come. If you’re looking for the Bane powered by Venom forget it. There are some fan boys (and girls) looking forward to see Bane pumped up with Venom, turning him into a powerhouse. But the focus of this film is on his scare tactics as a terrorist. He arrives in Gotham with a plan to hold the most powerful city ransom. His first course of action was to attack the city stock exchange and cease the assets of its investors. Bane and his men escape underground. Commissioner Gordon takes a few officers with in pursuit. In the sewers, they discover the terrorist network. Gordon is critically injured by Bane and uses the last of his strength to escape. Learning of the Commissioner’s injury prompts Bruce to put on the suit and track Bane down.
Batman soon finds Bane and it’s a classic fight taken straight from the comics. Bane hands the Caped Crusader his butt on a platter and, once weaken, finishes him off by lifting him over his head and slamming him over his knee, breaking his back. Anyone who has read the “Knightfall” series will remember this iconic moment. During Batman’s absence, Bane takes over Gotham after successfully trapping all of the city’s police below ground. Bruce, over the course of three months, recovers from his injuries and escapes the “Pit”, and returns to Gotham. As Batman, he enlists help from Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Lucius Fox, Commissioner Gordon, and Miranda Tate. And now we get to the good part.
With Catwoman’s help, the officers are freed from their confines and launch an all-out war against Bane and his army. It’s a large scale brawl reminiscent of the Spartans in “300”. I like how this was done as like a “final stand” type of scenario. Just go out in one big brawl and settle the score one and for all. No weapons (except for the bad guys). The battle scene isn’t as dynamic as “Avengers” or “Spiderman” but still a good climatic moment.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is a Batman movie with heart. Christian Bale gives us the most “human” Bruce Wayne/Batman in this movie. He portrayed a man dealing with regret, sadness, and anger. Staying with the same actor for the same role was a smart move. I like Bale in this role. Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth is best portrayal of the character. He makes you want to love him like you would a grandfather who will do anything to protect those he cares about, even hide a painful truth. Alfred has deep respect and love for Bruce and Michael Caine truly brought this out. Anne Hathaway is surprisingly seductive as Selina Kyle (though I think Michelle Pfeiffer is still the sexiest in the role). At first, I was too keen on her playing Kyle but after seeing her in action, I think she did a fine job. Even without the Venom formula, Bane was still menacing as ever. Tom Hardy pulled this part off without a hitch. This version of the character was a thinker; he meticulously planned out everything with extreme guile and deadly accuracy. And just like in the “Knightfall” series of comics, he deduced that Bruce Wayne is Batman. This movie was fun and exciting with a touch of heart. As mentioned before, it is a slow starter but ends with a strong finish.
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