If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Now to cap off my reviews of the Christopher Nolan Batman movies with the epic conclusion.
The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight and now there's a new villain named Bane who plans to finish the work of The League of Shadows and destroy Gotham. This means Bruce Wayne has to don the cape and cowl after 8 years to stop Bane.
Normally with the third movie in a trilogy, it ends up being a big dissapointment compared to the first two films. Since The Dark Knight is one of the greatest movies of all time, The Dark Knight Rises had some big shoes to fill. Is this movie as good as The Dark Knight? No, but it's still a damn great movie.
After an intense opening scene with Bane, we're shown a Gotham that's without organized crime, Commissioner Gordon is still covering up Harvey Dent's crimes and neither Batman or Bruce Wayne are to be seen. I think that the direction this movie took in showing the effects of Dent's murders was a solid part of the film. Bruce Wayne is a recluse and Gordon is forced to lie and praise the guy who tried to kill his son, meaning Gotham is more peaceful, but it's all based off a lie, which just shows how messed up Gotham really is. I liked how that was shown in the movie and how all that the Joker did is still having an effect on people.
New cast members in the movie include Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cottilard, but the two that everyone talks about is Hardy and Hathaway. The returning cast like Christian Bale and Gary Oldman are all great, but Anne Hathaway gives possibly one of her best performances. When people heard that she was going to play Catwoman, everyone was bitching about it and I seemed to be the only person in the world who liked her being cast in the movie. It turns out that Hathaway ends up bringing us the best Catwoman. She's really feminine, sly, and manipulative, but in a badass way and not in the slutty way like with Michelle Pheiffer in Batman Returns. Then there's Tom Hardy as Bane and he was just fantastic in the movie. Hardy has to act with this big mask on his face, the mask that everyone thought would completely muffle his voice. I actually really liked his voice and there was maybe just one line in the movie where I didn't catch what he said, but still, Tom Hardy brings great presence to the character, especially when he's acting with just the emotion in his eyes. (Or when he's punching super fast and breaking pillars with his bare hands)
The thing about Bane is that the only time we've seen him in a film before this was in Batman and Robin and we all know the horrors that movie committed. Nolan ends up delivering the Bane that everyone wanted to see. He's strong and can kick everyone's ass, but he's also really smart and cunning. The scene where he kills Daggett is hands down probably one of my favorite Bane scenes in the entire film. Bane just towers over this small business guy who's sexuality is up to debate, and the intimidation factor is just there. People are going to debate over who's better between Bane and the Joker, but I don't think they're worth comparing. It may seem like a cop out answer, but the differences between the two are pretty noticeable.
In the comics, Bane is known for breaking Batman's back and that's what we got in this movie. The first fight between Batman and Bane is such an intense scene. There's no music and the only sounds are of Bane's fist making contact with Batman over and over again. Bane also delivers some really cool pieces of dialogue, including his speech about him being born in darkness. Bane is just taunting Batman the entire fight and finishes him by breaking his back over his knee and walking away as if nothing even happened. That fight along is what showed me how much of a threat Bane is.
Bane sends Bruce into a prison in the middle of nowhere and now Bane has control of Gotham after revealing the truth about Harvey Dent, freeing the inmates in Blackgate Prison and having his mercenaries turn Gotham into a gangland, all while the entire city is bring held hostage with a nuclear bomb. I loved seeing Gotham in the state that it was. It was basically a revolution and I've always liked seeing a rebel group fight against a larger group that's in control. This is all happening while Bruce is stuck in an underground prison and in that prison is where we see Bruce as a complete wreck. At first I thought the scenes in the prison would slow the movie down, but it didn't, I was invested in those scenes because of how we see Bruce trying and failing to escape and because we ge some backstory to Bane. The scene where Bruce actually escapes was badass. The cinematography and the "Deshi Basara" chant mixed together with all the symbolism was so epic and it was gratifying to see Bruce rise and become the Batman once more.
The last 30-40 minutes of the movie provides a climax that is so intense. I was so emotionally invested in what was going on, that in the theaters, it was one of those edge of your seat moments. The police and Bane's army are fighting in the streets of Gotham, Batman and Bane are fighting again, Gordon is trying to chase down the nuke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character John Blake, is trying to get a bus full of orphans out of the city. During Batman and Bane's second fight, Batman breaks Bane's mask which provides him with pain-killers and Bane ends up being made Batman's bitch. Then comes the twist in the movie and that is that Miranda Tate, Marion Cottilard's character, was the mastermind behind the plan to destroy Gotham and she is in fact Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. Her being Talia isn't blatantly obvious in the first 2 hours of the movie, but there are subtle hints that I liked. For example, there is a point in the movie where Talia says, "Do what's neccesary." That line is the philosophy that Ra's al Ghul lived by in Batman Begins.
After Bane's death (more on that later) Talia chases after the nuke to secure it while Batman and Catwoman chase after her, Batman flying the the Bat (big flying thing) and Catwoman on the Batpod. It's an intense chase scene and after that ends, Batman flies off in the Bat with the nuke attached to it, carries it out to sea and lets it detonate, apparently killing Batman in the explosion. Right before that, was a really emotional scene where Batman tells Gordon his true identity, and the emotion follows the rest of the movie. The last 5 minutes of this movie alone, is one of the most satisfying and emotionally resonating endings to a movie I've ever seen. The people of Gotham honor Batman, Michael Caine gives a heartbreaking performance during Bruce's funeral (Michael Caine provided a lot of the movie's emotion, he was fantastic in this movie) and as the movie draws to an end, Bruce starts to let people know that he's alive. The ending for this movie can be open to interpretation. Bruce is alive, he ejected out of the Bat before th bomb blew up and he's with Selina Kyle, that part is clear. The part that's up to debate is the fate of John Blake. We see him inherit the Batcave and it's hinted throughout the movie that he'll be Gotham's next crime-fighter, but who will he be? He can be the next Batman, he can be Robin, Nightwing or even a new hero. Whatever may happen, it was still a great way to end the movie and the trilogy.
If I have any issues with the movie, they are minor and don't affect the movie by a lot. For one thing, I couldn'y help but feel Matthew Modine's character, Foley, was kind of pointless. He's a cop and there's really nothing more to him. He's just there in some scenes and he doesn't add a lot. Then there's Bane and Talia's deaths. Bane's death was really sudden. Just as he's about to shoot Batman, Catwoman comes in in the Batpod and blasts Bane away. I know his death plays into the beliefs of The League of Shadows, like "Mind your surroundings" and "Death is neither considerate nor fair", but I still would've liked a better death for him. Then there's Talia's death and that was just weird. After her truck crashes, she starts talking, then she rolls her head to the side and looks like she falls asleep more than she actually dies. It was kind of awkward to watch to be honest. Thankfully, these issues I have aren't major enough to change my opinion of the movie.
The Dark Knight Rises is a great, epic, and extremely satisfying way to end the trilogy. It ties together nicely with the previous two movies and it gives us a great superhero series and one of the better movie trilogies to be made.