Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has gone from popular loner to flat out recluse. It has been eight years since he jumped off his last rooftop and, even with all the king’s horses and men, he failed to put Harvey Dent back together again. Eight years, and Bruce is still moping over lost futures. All it will take to get him out of the dumps and put him back in reinforced Kevlar is one sassy, sexy jewel thief whose lifestyle includes back flipping out of windows with her stilettos on. That and a masked terrorist trained by the League of Assassins.
The Dark Knight Rises comes to us with a whole slew of new characters. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), the above-mentioned slinky jewel thief, is apparently the key to the city, showing everyone who has beef with someone else where to find that someone else. We also witness the introduction of a brand new villain: Bane (Tom Hardy), whose method of anarchy is less watch-the-world-burn and more let’s-build-a-suicidal-cult. Bane’s clever plan (slowly revealed over an hour and a half) is to hold Gotham hostage and encourage the people to take back their city from the cops and wealthy rulers. He manages this by employing lost criminals and homeless teenagers, performing some serious renovations on Gotham’s sewer system, and hijacking a nuclear bomb. Where is Batman in all this mess? Overcoming his inner demons in a prison far, far away.
Thankfully we have John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to save the day. Blake is Nolan’s nod to Batman’s trusty sidekick. Nerd alert: his name sounds like Robin #3, Tim Drake, but his back story has hints of Robin #2, Jason Todd. Coincidence? Oh maybe. But don’t read too much into it. If you send angry letters to Christopher Nolan begging for a Nightwing movie your only result will be a mailbox full of mail. Just probably not from Christopher Nolan.
Watching the conclusion of this trilogy cemented my respect for Nolan’s ability to take a popular character, tweak its universe with his own personal flare, and create something that makes that old character cool again, keeping just enough of the original concept to please the fans. The Bane of Nolan’s world is not the Spanish-speaking, muscle-juice-pumping drug addict of the comics. Nevertheless, I love Tom Hardy’s Bane because he’s a new character who is reminiscent of the old one. It’s a great modernization – save, maybe, for the Darth Vader references and the fact that all background noises are turned down to hear Bane’s muffled, “BlumblemumbleFireRisingmumble!”
And that is a crying shame because in the background Hans Zimmer’s score is glorious. He uses a two-note theme throughout the whole trilogy and manipulates just those notes to build tension, create a sense of loss, encourage mystery, etc. Each character has their own little piece of music, but they all fit together with the same feeling of secrets, anxiety, and most importantly, anarchy.
In this sequel we’ve also moved away from one man’s not-so-hilarious killing spree, courtesy of the Joker, to a well-planned revolution led by a ruthless, darkness-loving mercenary who still finds time to wax his chest. The Dark Knight Rises is certainly the most talkative of the three movies and includes moments such as efforts to find Bruce a date, Bane’s speeches about not taking shit from anybody, and story time with Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine). Unlike The Dark Knight where there are several climaxes and things colliding in neat little explosions, The Dark Knight Rises feels more like a hum that crescendos to a boom before settling in for a finale with trumpets. The fire rises in The Dark Knight Rises, but it rises very slowly.
As for the ladies of Gotham, they certainly take more of a leading role in this film compared to the other two. Selina Kyle, especially, mixes strength and smarts with her paralyzing good looks to create someone who can intimidate one second and feign innocence the next. Her street smarts and Miranda Tate’s (Marion Cotillard’s) cunning make The Dark Knight Rises more about female power than the first two movies combined – whether they had to paint that suit on Hathaway or not.
While The Dark Knight is my favourite of this trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises is my number two – even though it’s stupid that their titles are so similar and yet so different from Batman Begins. There are a couple of questionable holes in the plot that I’m not going to point out because the answer to almost all of them is “Because he’s BATMAN!” I’m boldly saying that Nolan’s trilogy is the best superhero trilogy out there and each film is an easy re-watch. As for The Dark Knight Rises, I give it 7.5/10.
The Dark Knight Rises trailer.