The Dark Knight Rises is unquestionably the most anticipated film of the summer. For four years, legions of Batman fans have anxiously awaited the final movie in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Fortunately, Nolan concludes the trilogy on a high note and gives fans the rousing ending that they deserve.
The late Heath Ledger gave a masterful, disturbing performance in 2008's The Dark Knight. Ledger's Joker is one of the all time greatest villains on film. His performance was simultaneously terrifying and blackly comic.
Actor Tom Hardy is given the challenging task of creating a memorable villain after Ledger's unforgettable Joker. Hardy plays Bane, a mercenary with a mask covering the majority of his face. Hardy is more than up to the challenge of making Bane a worthwhile villain. Throughout the film, I really felt Bane's physical presence in his scenes. Hardy does so much with just his eyes and his cold, Darth Vader-esque voice.
It goes without saying that no Batman onscreen villain could ever live up to the Joker, but Bane will not soon be forgotten. The Joker was scary because he was unpredictable. He was a self-professed "agent of chaos" with no rules. Bane is menacing due to his imposing physical capabilities and his calm attitude amidst wince-inducing violence.
Nolan's realistic tone in his Batman films has never been more grim and bleak than in The Dark Knight Rises. At 164 minutes, this is the longest Batman film ever made and occasionally it does feel a bit messy and bloated. The plot itself is not quite as strong as The Dark Knight, but the pure scope and spectacle of the action more than excuses the ultimate familiarity of some aspects of the story.
Along with its sprawling length and complex narrative there are times when the movie becomes relentlessly gloomy. I felt that it could have used just a bit more humor to liven up the action. That being said, once the movie reaches its climax I was on the edge of my seat for the last thirty minutes.
Without giving anything away, I believe the ending of the film is just about as perfect an ending I could have hoped for. This being a Christopher Nolan film, it is by no means a conventional Hollywood ending and there are many interpretations to be had in relation to the final scenes.
There is so much to appreciate about this film. The acting across the board is superb. Anne Hathaway is the definitive onscreen Catwoman. I was initially skeptical at the casting of Anne Hathaway, who is a very hit or miss actress in my opinion. Hathaway's Catwoman is intriguing because she plays the part completely straight and toys with audience expectations for female characters.
The supporting cast could not be better with Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Literally, every major character in this movie is portrayed brilliantly by the actors chosen for the parts. Certain scenes with Michael Caine were so emotional that most of the fanboys around me were crying along with me.
Fans of the series will appreciate the many "full circle" moments that flashback to Batman Begins. Some fans will be surprised how little actual Batman (in costume) is in the movie. The Dark Knight Rises features some large scale Batman action, but the main character of the movie is Bruce Wayne and the film is mainly about his journey. Christian Bale gives his best performance as Batman yet and you believe every action that he takes.
While The Dark Knight Rises does not quite surpass the masterpiece of the genre that is The Dark Knight, it tells a more personal Bruce Wayne story and brings Christopher Nolan's trilogy to an epic and satisfying conlusion. As a Batman fan and as a fan of movies in general, I will endlessly rewatch and admire the Dark Knight trilogy. Finally, the character of Batman has been fully realized as more than just a guy in a mask fighting criminals. Christopher Nolan has taken Batman, and like Bruce Wayne, has made the character into "more than just a man." Christopher Nolan's Batman will forever be a cinematic legend and his films will be a reference point for future filmmakers who adapt comic books into movies.
I have already seen The Dark Knight Rises twice and I encourage people not to be afraid to go out to the movies in light of the recent tragedy in Aurora. The shooter is not only responsible for taking innocent lives and maiming many others, but in turning something as safe and fun as a movie theater into a nightmarish hell.
For me, it was especially scary to realize that it just as easily could have been me at that screening in Aurora. I did not attend a midnight screening for the film, but I stood in line on opening day and I go to the movies at least once every week. It is important that we do not remain in fear of sick people like James Holmes. I urge you not to let him win. Go out to the movies and enjoy yourself. If you are a fan of Batman, go see The Dark Knight Rises. Like Batman, we movie fans must rise above our greatest fears, and in the process conquer them.