It’s hard not to like The Dark Knight Rises. It is by no means a horrible movie, nor is it appropriate to say that it’s flawless. But considering the impeccable pedigree of Christopher Nolan, you can always rely on the renown director to deliver a satisfying experience. He hits on several previous aspects from throughout the trilogy; from the League of Shadows to Harvey Dent’s “legacy”, much of the film highlights and personifies these aspects to conclude the epic story of Batman.
Nolan drafted the best cast you could ask for. It’s obviously expected that he’d cast the same recurring roles, but the new additions he added were excellent. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is one that really stole the show. She’s sexy, sly, and subtly caring. All of which comprises the ideal Catwoman. Throughout the film, she’s portrayed as a dubious and rebellious thief, but we see a significant character development. During Batman’s first confrontation with Bane, her face was full of regret and shame, as she was the one who led Batman to his “expected” death. By the time she’s caught by Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, John Blake, she’s hopeless and dejected of what’s happened. It’s apparent that the relationship between Batman and Catwoman is one that can be seen as two professionals cooperating to do their jobs, but in reality, the actual chemistry between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne is one that can be seen as a Mr. and Mrs. Smith kind of deal.
As for Levitt, his role as Office/Detective Blake was one that constantly gave rays of hope to not only the children of Gotham, but also to Bruce Wayne himself. Blake was one who could not only relate to Wayne’s childhood as an orphan but he carried a similar mentality and motive to that of the billionaire vigilante.
With the eventual reveal as Blake being “Robin”, you could see why Wayne bestowed the cave to Blake. We’re not sure if whether he’ll take the throne as Gotham’s next guardian, but Wayne selected a perfect candidate to take on the ambitious role.
And now, let’s talk about Bruce Wayne. This was the biggest character arc for Wayne out of the trilogy, and it’s one of the several things I liked about the film. Previously, we never saw such a crucial development from a character. He was always a flamboyant and affluent figure, with a lot of things appealing in his favor. But it was different in TDKR. Very different. It took what we all knew about comic books and super heroes and fully bashed it to the ground. Instead of Batman predictably accomplishing the typical struggles, Nolan retracted every bit of that sense of monotony and illustrated a situation that we were absolutely not familiar with – Batman being gruesomely castigated by Bane. It was a situation in which I was desperately asking myself What’s going on?! Wait, this isn’t supposed to be happening! The confrontation led to one of the most historic events in comic books,Bane snapping every possible bone in Batman’s spine. Batman’s destined rise was one that essentially amplified many of the conflicts initiated by Bane and inevitably spelled the steroid-juiced villain’s demise.
The development encompassing Wanye from The Dark Knight to TDKR is indicative of what Batman is fundamentally about. His identity as the Dark Knight to this point has become an obligation to Gotham, and although is willpower is potent, the life that he lives has become too convoluted and extracted. It was clear what Batman wanted from start, but haunted by the events in The Dark Knight, he’s lost the elemental motive of being a defender for the city. In reality, his role as Gotham’s vigilante has become overdue. He put the suit on for one last time and after that, he’s ready to retire and live a life of his own.
You only adopted the dark… I was born there… The shadows betray you… because they belong to me.
Aside from the exemplary aspects of what Nolan did with the movie, aesthetically and technically, there were some flaws. Let’s start with Bane. Sadly, I wasn’t aware that he dropped that beautiful piece of rhetoric above, due the sole fact that, well, his dialogue was incomprehensible. For most of it, I had to rely on context dialogue, but even that made me things a bit jumbled. As for the actual performance of Bane, Tom Hardy produced a fitting outlaw that was menacing and stout. Even if his voice was drowned by a respirator, it certainly contributed to his looming figure as the main villain. Or was he? By the end of the film, he was portrayed as this soft kitten, and I even felt sympathetic for him. On top of that, his death by Catwoman was extremely unconvincing and ambiguous. As the main villain for about 95% of the film, he deserved a better death. I also found Talia al Ghul’s role as a villain fairly weak. Being the “twist of the hour”, and introduced near the end of the film, she could have been fleshed out slightly better.
Nolan’s known for his ambiguous and open-ended endings, so it was no surprise that the last seconds of the film were open for interpretation. We’re not sure if whether Batman is dead or not, but we are given the fact that the auto-pilot on the Bat was functional, so it’s highly possible that he escaped the explosion. But again, his death is up in the air. If you ask me what I think, he’s alive.
It could be said that it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey, especially with Bane. However, much of what I didn’t like about the film were the villain arcs and some technical issues, but the latter is easy to shrug off. There were also some critical pacing issues, but it seemingly improved as the acts progressed. Alternately, the issues that I had with the film were minor and should be taken with little regard. The Dark Knight Rises was easily an amazing conclusion to the trilogy, and certainly an exceptional film in and of itself. I could continue my thoughts for another 1000 words, which I might save for a future post, but what I’ve laid out today should decisively be enough to fully convince my thoughts of the film.
My thoughts are with the victims of the Colorado shooting. It was a senseless tragedy that most thought was an extension of the film experience. It was absolutely heinous and disgusting.
Batman himself put it best: