The Dark Knight Rises: A Review

I finally managed to catch the concluding chapter to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy a week or so after its premiere. Believe me, seeing the trailer does not begin to describe the film as a whole. No contest, Nolan has outdone himself with this third installment.

Eight years after Batman took the fall for the death of Harvey Dent, organized crime has been all but eliminated in Gotham City as citizens adhere to the Harvey Dent Act, a law which rid the city of syndicates and big time criminals. Still hurting from the death of Rachel (his ex girlfriend), Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) chooses to become a recluse in his own home. During one of the high profile galas held at the Wayne Mansion, Bruce encounters cat burglar Selina Kyle (Catwoman) who robs him of his fingerprints as part of a ploy by his business rival to take over Wayne Enterprise’s  fusion core, a possible source of sustainable clean energy. However, the power source also poses a danger of being weaponized if it falls in the wrong hands, leaving Bruce no choice but to keep it hidden. At the same time, a terror plot is unveiled as a masked warlord (Bane) whom Bruce finds out is also a member of the League of Shadows, appears and lays siege to Gotham City. As criminals grow more brazen and the truth about Dent finally comes out, Bruce is called upon by rookie cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to help the city as Batman.

While The Dark Knight would seem like a cast reunion for Inception alums — Tom Hardy (Bane), Marrion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Joseph Gordon Levitt (Blake), Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow), Michael Caine (Alfred) — even Leonardo DiCaprio was originally asked to take on the role of The Riddler for this movie (he declined) — I would still say that the casting could not have been better. Tom Hardy, being the main villain in such an elaborate terror plot, was so convincing in his role that audiences would be scared each time he appeared on the screen. This is a testament to his wide range of acting skills and for this major break, I believe he stepped up his game and succeeded.

I initially had some reservations about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I thought she would be too Disney for the role but as it turns out, her training and her commitment to the project helped prove my doubts wrong. I had some favorite scenes which involved Alfred and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) which packed real emotion and echoed the characters’ strong bond in the Batman mythos. Matthew Modine as the annoying and ambitious Deputy Commissioner Foley, caused my blood pressure to rise a notch but by the end, it was all well and good.

CHAOS. Bane and his thugs take over Gotham City.

Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has never struck me as a superhero movie, but rather as chronicles of Bruce Wayne’s journey to find peace with what happened to his parents. This tone still rings true in this final installment. This, is what I believe separates Batman from the pack. The approach is darker, more human, the interactions more on an intrapersonal level rather than towards the outside world. Batman is a story of personal torment as well as a triumph of the spirit — Bruce Wayne’s in particular. It shows that despite his wealth and privilege, he suffers too. And this is the reason that people can relate to Batman. He does not have superpowers. He is human, albeit a very wealthy one, but he is plagued by the same insecurities and doubts like the rest of us.

What the Dark Knight manages to deliver  does not end with super cool gadgets (which just keep getting better and better with each installment), stunts, car chases and elaborate action scenes, chemistry between the characters, a meaty story (albeit a tad lengthy) — it transcends boundaries and ties up the stories from the first Dark Knight movie until its conclusion, opens doors for possibilities, and gets the  audience to believe that anybody can be a hero, even without a suit or fancy toys like Bruce Wayne. I only wish that more people would focus on the positives, rather than the tragedies in Batman’s story, so that the Colorado shooting will be the last act of violence spawned by watching these type of movies.

LIFE IMITATES ART. Watch out for this scene in the live action adaptation. Define awesomeness.

On the flipside, I don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises should be seen by impressionable young kids, even though it is a superhero movie. The elaborate action scenes are actually super violent, as are the attacks staged by Bane’s men as they stormed Gotham City. While these contributed to the actual storytelling, its a bit too heavy for children to handle so it is best for parents to be on hand to explain to their kids the context of the movie, if they really want their kids to see it.

All in all, I thought this movie was awesome. I also appreciate the nod to the Knightfall series during some sequences in the Batman vs Bane fight. While I haven’t followed the entire series, I still do know a thing or two about the character’s origins. And for those of you who were wondering who John Blake is, I did some research, because apparently, he is not in any one of the comic books —  my guess is that he is the composite of all the Robins in the Batman universe, but check out this site for more details.

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