July 20, 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
Release Date: July 20, 2012
The Conclusion We Deserve
by Chris Flowers
The unprecedented fervor surrounding the release of the final Batman film of Christopher Nolan’s highly acclaimed trilogy is something we probably should have seen coming. Fans of the films are rabid about the movies getting their just dues, and it’s become the (unfortunate) habit of many a fanboy to go ballistic on anyone who is a naysayer. That said, these people are devotees of the series for a reason: each of the two previous offerings have been nothing short of fantastic, and there was no reason to believe that the third—and final—installment, The Dark Knight Rises, would be any different.
The question that’s on everyone’s mind, of course, is if it really does meet (and ultimately exceed) the impossibly high standards set by its predecessors. The answer is a resounding “yes.” The Dark Knight Rises is incredibly ambitious and incredibly satisfying; it’s also the best film of the trilogy.
Allow me to explain why.
In both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Gotham was in peril. Madmen assailed the city’s citizens for varying reasons—some more concrete than others—while a troubled hero in Bruce Wayne sought to use his resources (namely access to incredibly advantageous weaponry and a whole slew of kick-assery he obtained while a brief member of the League of Shadows) to disarm those would see the town destroyed. While his character has always been interesting, Bruce Wayne hasn’t been a truly engrossing dramatic figure. That all changes with The Dark Knight Rises.
Here, we see Bruce/Batman’s tragedy and redemption come around full circle. At the start of the movie, Wayne is a man crippled by the exploits he’s undertaken as the caped crusader. He’s a recluse who’s holed up in Wayne Manor. As we’re allowed to see him move beyond exchanging witty barbs with his longtime butler (and caretaker) Alfred Pennyworth, the emotional pay-dirt finally emerges, and the character—in the words of the late Ra’s Al Ghul—becomes more than just a man. He becomes the embodiment of grief; here, it’s clear that there’s a tangible psychological block that’s eating Bruce from the inside out. The first hour of Rises is devoted to mining this pain, and it makes Bale’s portrayal of Bruce more accessible than ever.
Then there’s the action, which hits its stride about halfway through the production. Once it gets going, it’s relentless and, for lack of a better word, harrowing. Everything that’s happening in the streets of Gotham has weight behind it, as the city faces a challenge unlike anything that’s come before.
I feel like I’m on the verge of spilling the beans about some major plot points, so I’ll wind things down by saying that the supporting cast—Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle—are all splendid. They each bring something crucial to their characters, and not a moment of screen time is wasted.
I don’t need to tell you this, but if you haven’t already purchased your ticket for Nolan’s epic conclusion to what will go down as one of the best trilogies in movie history, then you need to get on the ball. After all, this is one of those rare occurrences in cinema—the emergence of a truly great movie that actually lives up to every ounce of hype.
Nicely done, Mr. Nolan. You deserve the Oscar nods that are surely coming your way.