The third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy premiered at midnight July 20th to raucous cheering. In a summer that has been largely dominated by Marvel with The Avengers and The Amazing Spider Man, DC Comics can breathe a sigh of relief for The Dark Knight Rises soars above and beyond either of those ventures. Once again rooting his story in a gritty reality, Nolan creates a world that feels all too possible. Set eight years after The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse—imprisoning himself in his home for his past “crimes.” The Batman has not been seen since the death of Harvey Dent, or as the audience came to know him: Two-Face. In order to keep the relative peace in Gotham The Batman must stay in hiding, as he has been blamed for Dent’s death. Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the police force have been relatively unnecessary, as the “Dent Act” has created a peaceful city free from crime. This apparent calm sets up a void for a new villain to take advantage of Gotham’s citizens. Enter Bane.
Tom Hardy as Bane is a much more sinister villain in comparison to Heath Ledger’s The Joker (who’s character and misdeeds have absolutely no mention here). Bane’s power and strength is physical instead of based in intelligence and cunning. Bane is introduced as man with a plan, to free Gotham from their oppressive government and to restore order by empowering the people. The parallels to the fears of our own society are hard to ignore as several scenes appear to have been ripped from the Occupy movement’s headlines. Hardy does his best to create a complex character, and is successful in conveying true emotion, even as a mask obscures almost his entire face. This mask causes Bane’s dialogue to often be incomprehensible, even with the obviously dubbed sing-songy voice trying to clear things up. The voice the audience is hearing creates a disconnect from the body/face we are seeing, which often takes you out of the story. However, Bane is an obvious threat to Batman as he easily overpowers him in body size and size of followers.
Other than Hardy, a number of other Inception actors show up here to round out the star-studded cast (Without Leonardo DiCaprio, thank god). Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, the rookie cop who believes in Batman and strives to bring him back to Gotham’s aid. Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate doesn’t have much to do, as a wealthy board member trying to lure Bruce Wayne out of hiding to help her launch an energy saving machine for the world. Tate is also introduced as a love interest for Wayne, which makes sense for the plot. What doesn’t make sense is setting up Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman as anything other than a partner in crime.
Hathaway is first seen stealing from Bruce right in front of him. Any worries that Hathaway might not be fit for the character are immediately washed away as she expertly switches between naïve and timid to strong and savvy as the situation calls for. Her character moves through varying characterization as she goes from villain to heroine. Fans of Catwoman needn’t worry, for here she is portrayed as independent and strong with no similarities to any other terrible interpretations of her character (looking at you Halle Berry). Catwoman’s role in the chaos of Gotham makes sense as her background is revealed to be a young woman who has to do whatever necessary to survive. The parallels between her story and to our own society’s fear of technology documenting our every move making it impossible to ever start fresh, are compelling and set up her motivations throughout the film. Cotillard’s Miranda Tate is not allotted the same luxury, as her background is underdeveloped and vague.
The plot consistently winks and nods to its audience as several references to the original film, Batman Begins, pop up throughout. All of the recurring characters show up here again, Lucius Fox, Alfred, and a few other familiar faces that show up so unexpectedly, I’d hate to ruin the surprise. The Dark Knight Rises takes the audience on a thrill ride as it moves swiftly from twist to twist. Genuine gasps of shock could be heard across the theatre as each new plot point was revealed. The revelations come fast and hard, totaling up to at least four within the last 20 minutes. At the risk of spoiling the ending, all that can be said is Woah. Just Woah. Prepare yourselves for the crazy that is about to ruin your life. The ending is near perfect as it closes out the trilogy satisfactorily, but also sets up the possibility of future films. My only real complaint would be the change in location for the portrayal of Gotham. Pittsburgh does a fine job, but I would have much rather seen Chicago’s beautiful skyline getting blown to bits.
BY: MARY CARROLL