It has been eight years since the events of 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” The day of Harvey Dent’s death has become a city holiday, and his death is still blamed on the Batman, who has been missing ever since. So has Bruce Wayne, staying cooped up in his mansion, avoiding human contact, except with his trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Thanks to the “Dent Act,” organized crime has been exterminated from Gotham City, therefore there has been no need for an appearance of the Batman. But now, a new “storm” of evil rises from the underground of Gotham City, and it is time for the Batman to rise again. But this “storm” comes in the form of Bane, a man of pure evil intent, much like the Joker, but is also a physically strong, brutal opponant that could actually physically break the Bat, and everything he believes in.
Being the sequel to the highly acclaimed “The Dark Knight,” director Christopher Nolan is faced with an extremely difficult task at both attempting to end this massive trilogy on a high note, all while trying to give fans what they expect: a piece of filmmaking that at least reaches the heights of its immediate predecessor. And reaches it does, possibly even exceeds.
First off, the performances. Christian Bale gives it his all as a broken Bruce Wayne, troubled psychologically and physically. Michael Caine gives a heartfelt performace as Alfred, and, as usual, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are great as well. Marion Cotillard (Inception) gives a good performance as Miranda Tate, but its three newcomers that really dazzle. The first being Joseph Gordon Levitt (Inception) as John Blake. He has a tough cop attitude that really makes him a strength to the film, and he has more of a significant role to the movie than you may expect. The next is the most surprising, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman, even though she’s never called Catwoman in the film. Her performace is mesmerizing and she comes close to stealing the show as Ledger did in “Dark Knight.” And the final, best performance comes from Tom Hardy (Inception). His character, Bane, is so brutally menacing you won’t know what hit you. He is the type of character you fear. With his face covered in a Hannibal Lector type mask while talking as eloquently as a French Revolution leader, he will do anything from punch your throat to snap your neck, all without hesitation or mercy. He is an incredible villian, and Hardy matches, if not exceeds, Heath Ledger’s Joker.
It’s interesting that each of these films have different themes. In “Batman Begins,” the theme was ‘Fear.’ In “The Dark Knight,” the theme was ‘Chaos.” And now, in “The Dark Knight Rises,” the theme is ‘Pain.’ And yes, it is painful to watch. The batlle sequences between Batman and Bane are brutal and relentless, teetering on the edge of an R-rating, which after seeing it, I am very surprised it didn’t pick one up. This is one of the darkest, most violent PG-13 films to date, but also one of the most emotionally resonant.
The film is 2 hr 45 min, but never does it feel that long. The time flies by, and the end leaves you wanting more. The plot takes interesting turns, and it goes deep into the psychological issues and pasts of the characters, resulting in one of the most emotionally touching films in years. The biggest surprise is the ending, which I will not spoil, but it is so satisfying and it is the perfect way to end this groundbreaking trilogy.
With a satisfying conclusion that exceeds the heights of “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” is the best comic book movie ever made, the best film of the year, and one of the best movies of all time.
Run time: 165 minutes
Rated PG-13 for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action, Some Sensuality, and Language