After the success of The Dark Knight in 2008, director Christopher Nolan has a terrible weight on his shoulders coming into The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan’s third and final outing into the Batman franchise marks a film that concludes his epic trilogy of a dark and gritty Gotham city.
The film rejoins Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) eight years after defeating the joker. Bruce is a broken man. Physically beaten, he walks with a stick and has become a recluse in his mansion. While life in Gotham enjoys a superficial time of peace united by the death of Harvey Dent and hatred of the Batman.
Bruce is unable to find his place in the world after allowing himself to become defined by his alter-ego Batman. He has hung up his cape but he hasn’t moved on. However, dark forces are never far away. In the Dark Knight Rises they conspire once again to attack Gotham with new nemesis Bane (Tom Hardy) at the helm forcing Bruce back into the suit.
The choice of Bane as the villain sets the tone for The Dark Knight Rises. Whereas, The Joker was “an agent of chaos”, Bane is military in his precision. He is a general commanding an army below Gotham’s radar. For the first time in the trilogy there is an adversary who can match Batman both physically and mentally. As a comic book character Bane is widely known for Knightfall, an infamous story arc from the early 1990’s. Without spoilers it is impossible to say why but Nolan uses this arc to draw some inspirations for the character in The Dark Knight Rises.
Tom Hardy’s physical transformation should also be applauded but his character Bane may be the greatest flaw in the film. Complaints made about the clarity of Bane’s voice ring out with some substance. He does at times sound like a strange mixture of Darth Vader and Optimus Prime with an English twist. Ultimately though, it isn’t this which flaws the character. Bane just lacks that sense of danger.
Anne Hathaway’s turn as Selina Kyle is also worth the price of admission. Her ability to switch from seductive temptress to hysterical victim in the blink of an eye defines her character perfectly, although her moral gauge does become quite clear very early in proceedings. Hathaway as Catwoman wasn’t the top of the list for most fans but she has absolutely nailed the character in The Dark Knight Rises.
To say fans have waited four years for the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises takes its time getting into the action. Almost half an hour elapses before the Batman even reappears. This, however, is vital to its success. The Dark Knight Rises allows the audience the time to develop a relationship with the characters and utilizes a talented cast. The emotional exchanges between Michael Caine and Christian Bale show a parental relationship at breaking point rather than sarcastic remarks from butler to master.
Nolan has built a universe around these characters and trusts the audience to stay with them through the final third. The reason end of the film is so powerful is because we actually care whether these people live or die having invested our own time and emotion into the story.
The Dark Knight Rises is probably a better film than its predecessor but lacks that terrifying presence of spontaneity. A trait brought in by the chaotic Joker. What The Dark Knight Rises does though is up the ante and scale showing Nolan as a master in his craft. While the relationship between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight was never a comfortable one. The two plot lines never quite weaved together creating an episodic feel. This is not only addressed in the final chapter but loose threads are knitted back together as The Dark Knight Rises bookends the trilogy perfectly.