Eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is dead, Gotham city’s crime rate has dropped significantly, and the Batman has not been seen since the night of Harvey’s death. While Harvey Dent is remembered as Gotham’s hero, Batman is viewed as an outlaw and a murderer. As Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham Police clean up the streets, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, has become a recluse—his body worn from numerous nights of vigilantism. But a new threat is rising. Bane, an international terrorist has set his eyes on Gotham City. Wayne Enterprises has developed a nuclear reactor, a possible source of renewable, clean energy for Gotham. But Bane plans to turn the nuclear reactor into a bomb that will wipe Gotham off of the map. In order to thwart Bane’s plan to eradicate the city, Batman must conquer his physical infirmity, face his own fears, and discover new secrets about the past.
The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. This film brings the audience back full circle to events that occurred in Batman Begins, concerning the League Of Shadows and R’as Al Ghul’s intentions to eradicate Gotham City. Here we find a new Bruce Wayne; he is forlorn over the death of Rachel Dawes at the hands of the Joker, he has taken the full weight of Harvey Dent’s fate onto himself, and he considers himself retired from his days of vigilante justice. However, Bruce’s interest in his crime fighting days are rekindled by a woman named Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who pilfers Bruce’s mother’s pearls from the Wayne family safe during a charity benefit. Selina has taken to burglary out of necessity and is searching for a chance to start fresh and give up her life of crime. Once Batman returns, he makes a promise to Catwoman to help her start anew in exchange for her help in taking down Bane and his army.
Due to the extended absence of Bruce Wayne, Wayne Enterprises has fallen into disarray, having spent millions developing the top secret, nuclear energy project. In order to stop Bane’s plan of capturing the nuclear device and turning it into a weapon, Bruce seeks out the help of Miranda Tate, a business woman and philanthropist, to head up the energy project and get Wayne Enterprises back on its feet. But there is more to Miranda than meets the eye and she has plans of her own.
The scope of The Dark Knight Rises is immense. The plot takes place over the course of about a year, by my estimation. Bane manages to take the entire city of Gotham hostage for months. Bruce spends a large portion of the plot in captivity at the hands of Bane, struggling to escape and rescue his beloved city. The prisoners of Blackgate Prison, all of whom were incarcerated on a program inspired by Harvey Dent, are released and incorporated into Bane’s army of terrorists. As the city is taken under siege, the rich and privileged citizens of Gotham City are put on trial and sentenced to either exile, death, or death by exile, presided over by none other than Doctor Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow.
The cinematography in this film is beautiful, just as in its predecessors. The universe, popularly based in reality, in which this Batman tale takes place is a visual playground and it feels like these events are actually taking place somewhere in the northeast United States. The score in The Dark Knight film was chilling and left a great impression on the audience, however the score in this film was much more muted, consisting of long and drawn out, menacing tones that gave the audience a constant feeling of dread. So while the score for The Dark Knight Rises may not be as memorable as The Dark Knight, it is fitting for the film.
All of the cast in The Dark Knight Rises did a superb job. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was a perfect fit, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the hotshot Gotham detective who becomes a key player in Batman’s efforts to defeat Bane. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Lucious Fox, as well as Michael Caine as Alfred, Bruce’s butler and caregiver. As usual Christian Bale brings a believable and heart-wrenching performance as the tortured soul, Bruce Wayne, and an intimidating, heroic Batman. The villain, Bane, was played superbly by Tom Hardy, who brought a menacing and demented feeling to the character. As others have reported, I was thrown the first time I heard Bane’s voice. It seems that a character of this magnitude would have a voice like the Shredder from Ninja Turtles, but instead the audience is presented with a voice that sounds like an ailing Patrick Stewart. At first, I did not like the voice at all. But then I started thinking about Nolan’s “grounded in reality” approach to his Batman films, and the voice began to make sense. Person to person, we cannot control what voice God gives us. Why would Bane’s voice need to be deep and scary; he is just a man. Overall, I was very impressed with the acting in this film from all performances.
Like the Bond film series, each Batman film has to introduce a new toy and in this film it’s “The Bat.” Some would want to refer to it as the Batwing, but it is basically the tumbler, or Batmobile, with a large propeller underneath allowing it to hover and fly. This is a fun vehicle to watch as it takes on tumblers that have been commandeered by Bane’s army.
Overall, I loved this movie. I found myself towards the middle of the film asking myself, “Do I love it? Do I hate it? Do I like it?” For the last half hour of the film, my jaw was propped open. However, as any film does, The Dark Knight Rises does have its flaws, but only two that really bothered me. First was the love scene between Bruce Wayne and Miranda Tate. The couple enter the Wayne mansion coming in from the rain, soaking wet, and suddenly kiss followed by a fade to black and cut to Miranda and Bruce lying naked under a blanket by the fire place. My problem with this scene is my problem with most love scenes in films: it was completely gratuitous. There was no build up of emotions between the two prior in the film, no relationship, and it did nothing to move the plot along. It happened and then was never referenced again; it had no consequence at all in regard to the plot. Therefore, I think it was completely unnecessary and, frankly, distasteful. Secondly, this was a movie about Batman. However it felt like a movie more about Bruce Wayne and Bane. The running time of The Dark Knight Rises is nearly three hours, and Bruce Wayne dons the Batman cape and cowl for, by my estimation, about 45 minutes of the film. This may not bother most movie-goers, but it started to annoy me. I wanted to see more of Batman and less of Bruce Wayne and Bane.
The Dark Knight Rises features very little foul language, lots of fighting and scenes of peril, and one love scene that is not altogether inappropriate. The film is rated PG-13.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman becomes a Christ-like character. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.” Batman took on the guilt of Harvey Dent in order to redeem the people of Gotham City. In the same way, Christ took on the sin of the world so that we may have redemption. This is a great conversation to start with someone who does not have a relationship with Christ, but is a fan of Batman and/or these films.