When a broken Batman returns to a hopeless, apocalyptic Gotham City to overthrow an overpowering mercenary, conflicted cat burglar Selina Kyle attempts to dissuade the Dark Knight by telling him, “You don’t owe these people anymore. You’ve given them everything.” The same could have been told to Christopher Nolan, who set a new standard for comic book movies and even forced the Academy to change its Best Picture category with his 2008 film. The talented director gave fans of the DC Comics hero everything they could have hoped for in The Dark Knight; but Nolan returned, as did Batman, who replied to Kyle, “Not everything, not yet,” and delivers The Dark Knight Rises, a mesmerizing, thrilling conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies in recent memory.
Nolan and his brother Jonathan continue the story eight years after the events in TDK, which is a time of peace thanks to the Dent Act. Commissioner Gordon and Batman pinned the Two-Face murders seen in the previous film on the hero to preserve Harvey Dent’s name and all that he stood for. A series of events involving an attractive Selina Kyle and a menacing hulk compel a recluse Bruce Wayne to enter his Bat Cave and don the suit despite Alfred’s wishes of his master living a normal life. Batman witnesses firsthand the strength of the intellectual, masked brute known as Bane and engages in a battle for Gotham.
The Dark Knight’s latest challenge is his most difficult yet, which paves way for Christian Bale’s finest acting as Batman. The Academy Award-winning actor delivers a haunting performance as a soul-battered Bruce Wayne, and even makes strides in the voice department. The same praise can be directed toward Tom Hardy,whose harrowing performance captures your attention from a riveting, well-directed opening action sequence. His unnerving accent behind a gas-inducing mask muffles his voice and breathing to create a dark, eery presence similar to that of Darth Vader (just replace the force chokes with snapping necks). The British actor gained 30 pounds for the role of the feral terrorist, helping fans wipe Joel Schumacher’s Bane from their memories. Anne Hathaway silences critics and naysayers with a sexy, humorous performance as Selina Kyle, the thief with a heart of gold equipped with plenty of put-backs, which helps erase a stale performance from Marion Cotillard, whose character was not given enough screen time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be the one to blame with his solid performance as John Blake, an idealistic, well-minded cop who plays by the rules. Bruce Wayne is mentored by several characters, but none was more gut-wrenching than Michael Caine’s performance as the beloved Alfred, the butler who advises his master to give up the cowl.
Nolan’s epic is a tour de force without a dull moment, especially when you watch the action on an IMAX screen. Just as Avatar was meant to be experienced in 3D, The Dark Knight Rises should be seen in the high definition format. The action sequences are the best Nolan has ever filmed, and flaunts his newly learned skill to show he’s ready to direct a James Bond flick (Hey, I can dream, can’t I?). Writers Jonathan and Christopher Nolan make the final film come full circle with the events from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Commissioner Gordon and Batman suffer the consequences of their decisions, which paved the way for Bane to bring Gotham to its knees. The compelling story, political allegories and ending is enough to keep Nolan fans posting on message boards for months.
The conclusion of any story will always polarize people (just ask LOST fans), and The Dark Knight Rises is no different. The convoluted plot may have too many twists and turns for one to bear, however, the stellar performances from the remarkable cast and a thrilling climax is more than enough to blemish any holes in Nolan’s final Batman movie. The Dark Knight Rises delivers the biggest emotional punch of the three films, giving Gotham’s watchful protector the greatest sendoff a fan could ever ask for.