The Dark Knight Rises 2012
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: PHENOMENAL ENDING TO THE NOLAN BATMAN TRILOGY
Before 2005 and the release of Christoper Nolan’s Batman Begins, the film adaptations of DC Comics Batman were to put it simply goofy campy affairs. New millennial superhero films have risen the bar quite high since Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spiderman. Go back and watch Tim Burton’s Batman or any of the Joel Schumacher Batman films. They are not good… garbage even. These filmmakers and their films approach making a comic book film adaptation as something that must be dumbed down. What I mean is that they take a sophisticated story telling medium, film, and dumb it down seemingly because the medium they are adapting to film is a low brow medium. This is ridiculous because what the comic book medium, because of people like Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Chris Claremont and others, attempts to do is provide a story telling experience that rises beyond the limits of the medium. What Burton and Schumacher did was to move backwards rather forward. Burton and Schumacher did not raise the material to the sophistication of the film medium. They dumbed it down. The new millennial superhero filmmakers like Christopher Nolan said screw that silliness. They said let’s stand on the shoulders of the amazing story telling work of the likes of a Frank Miller and tell superhero stories that adults and children alike can enjoy. Story telling that is smart and that will stand the test of time. Christopher Nolan completely obliterated the stink of Burton and Schumacher from the Batman franchise with the release of Batman Begins. Goodbye to silly and camp… hello to characterization, story, drama, thrilling action and most of all fun. TDKR is the culmination of this approach delivering an amazing film experience.
The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the events of The Dark Knight (2008). Batman has not been seen in eight years since the death of Harvey Dent. Batman has been blamed with the murder of Dent who is now held up to the citizens of Gotham as a hero as his anti crime policies have cleaned up the city leaving Gotham virtually crime free… or so it would seem.
Bruce Wayne has receded to the shadows a broken man both emotionally and physically due to the events of The Dark Knight. Walking with the aid of cane and becoming a recluse due to the loss of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Bruce Wayne walks alone in the shadows of Gotham as the city moves on without him and no longer needing the Batman.
Enter Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar of immense skill, as she is hired to steal something precious from Wayne Manor that will set in motion a series of events that will shake Gotham to its core.
Meanwhile John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a rookie cop on the beat, begins to put together the clues that uncover that Gotham’s homeless are retreating into the city’s underground. Why and who is driving them underground.
All of these things come together to bring Batman out of seclusion as a new threat to Gotham city emerges in the form of the fearsome uber criminal Bane. Bane is a deciple of Ra’s Al Ghul, the leader of The League of Shadows, as was Bruce Wayne which makes Bane a worthy adversary for the Batman. Can a broken Bruce Wayne face the challenge posed by the imposing Bane and save Gotham city?
The Dark Knight Rises definitely throws in some commentary on the inequity between the 99% vs 1% as Bane attacks the Gotham stock exchange or when Bane and his cohorts take over the properties of the rich and even setting up a mock court to condemn them. What I found more interesting was that the film can be seen as a giant metaphor for societal complacency. Batman represents the constant fight for societal ideals, fairness and looking out for those that can’t look out for themselves. Stop fighting the good fight and you risk losing those societal goals. One must always remain vigilant and when one sentinel for justice goes down another must takes its place. When Batman goes into hiding for eight years, he gives complacency a chance to settle in giving the idea that vigilance is no longer necessary. Batman is no longer the hero of the city but a criminal to fereted out by officer Foley. Injustice is not only a man with a mask or a thug with a gun but injustice is also forgetting those at the bottom that cannot manage to rise to the top like the cream of society much like the orphans and the street people that are taken in by Bane under the city’s sewers.
To say that The Dark Knight Rises is epic is an understatement. The film IS epic using bits from the first two films to tell its story. This gives the TDKR a much larger context that spans the three film trilogy. Making TDKR, if you have seen the first two films, seem a much richer story telling experience. If you haven’t seen the other two films the film is still an amazing visual and narrative spectacle that can be easily enjoyed all on its own.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have always benefited from talented casts and TDKR is no exception. We are presented amazing performances from everyone including Tom Hardy’s Bane which is excellent given that his face is covered by a face mask the entire time. Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of my favorite young actors and I felt he shined as John Blake. I was not a fan of Anne Hathaway and I had my doubts about her participation in the film but I am happy to say that I was proven wrong. I have come away from the film feeling that she is the performance standout of TDKR. She brought a fair amount of grounded realism to the character that I did not expect. I would not want to say that Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle steals the show but she comes pretty close in terms of performance and in terms of narrative. Her subplot is integral to the success of the film and its story.
After watching the film, I immediately went back to the 2005 Batman Begins to compare the Bat suits. Wha a difference. The Bat suit looks amazing in the TDKR. It has evolved into something that looks amazing as well as functional.
I don’t know if it is being a comic book nerd or what but the last 45 minutes of the film unleashes such an amazing set of action sequences and narrative payoffs that have such emotional weight and power almost bringing my inner nerd to tears with emotion and excitement. Showing Bruce Wayne as he attempts to climb out of the prison pit try and fail three times was exciting. Never more so as on the third attempt when he finally makes it. It seemed analogous to Christ and falling three times while carrying the cross. This moment along with all of the other narrative payoffs we get in the last 45 minutes of the film were almost to much of a nerd-gasm for me to handle. Everything leads to an amazing film and trilogy resolution that is a wonderful cap to the story arc of the three Nolan films.
I sat in the theater and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I allowed myself to be taken along the narrative ride. Nolan tees up some story threads that by the end of the film payoff so satisfyingly that you don’t want the film to end. The last scene in the film will undoubtedly begin the speculation about the future. All I can is that I loved TDKR. I would advise anyone with even the slightest interest to stop reading reviews and go see this movie immediately.