It is hard to believe that The Dark Knight Rises is director Christopher Nolan’s final Batman flick. I don’t consider myself a rabid follower of the Batman series, but it’s quite obvious that Nolan has made one of the best superhero series to date, taking the superhero movie to a much darker place than others before him have dared to venture.
The Dark Knight Rises is not as good as 2008’s The Dark Knight, but it’s about equally as good as Batman Begins. So if you’re going in with high expectations, they likely will be met.
This movie opens eight years after The Dark Knight, which ended with Batman taking the blame for D.A. Harvey Dent’s death in order to help cover up Dent’s crimes.
Dent is hailed as a hero, Gotham City is now a peaceful place and Batman is basically persona non grata and has gone into hiding. As a result, an injured Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become the stereotypical reclusive rich guy, staying in Wayne Manor and only communicating with his trusty butler Alfred (Michael Caine).
When a big, bad dude named Bane (Tom Hardy) enters Gotham City and starts wreaking havoc, Wayne brushes the dust off his bat suit in an attempt to save the day.
My main beef with The Dark Knight Rises is with the villain. Bane is not nearly as memorable of a villain as Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning Joker from The Dark Knight.
And with a mask obstructing his month, a lot of Bane’s dialogue was unintelligible (so much so that maybe I’ll rewatch it on DVD with the subtitles on). Most of the time, it really didn’t matter what he had to say. You know he’s the bad guy, he wants revenge for something and he’ll go to great lengths to get it.
As expected in superhero movies, there are some cool fight scenes and nifty weapons. Morgan Freeman is back as Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s business manager who provides Batman’s cool toys. The special effects in The Dark Knight Rises are quite good (thankfully Nolan is a director who realizes the movie does not need 3-D to be impressive looking) and the pacing works. At two hours and 45 minutes, the movie is very long, but every scene felt pretty darn important. I didn’t feel it was long just for the sake of being long.
Anne Hathaway was a smart casting choice and nice addition as the crafty cat burglar Selina Kyle. Selina, or Catwoman, as she is more commonly known, is definitely a scene stealer. I was somewhat reminded of Hathaway’s portrayal of Agent 99 in Get Smart, but she definitely took things up a notch. Catwoman and Batman have a cute little flirtation going on, but ultimately their focus is on beating Bane.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the new young detective John Blake, is understatedly awesome. Marion Cotillard has a small and somewhat mysterious role as businesswoman Miranda Tate, but her role felt mostly underdeveloped until the end of the movie.
The Dark Knight Rises is “supposed” to be last film of the Batman series, but I have my doubts, based on the ending. It’s a satisfying closure to the series, so assuming this is really the end, Nolan’s Batman movies will go down as one of the best superhero trilogies in history. ••
Movie Grade: B+