This is it. Christopher Nolan’s swan song as a Batman director has finally hit theaters, and it is the most satisfying conclusion anyone could have possibly hoped for. Dark, gripping, and emotionally resonant, The Dark Knight Rises surpasses both of its predecessors and ends the trilogy on a high note.
Harvey Dent has been dead for eight years, and in a way, so has Batman. No one has seen Bruce Wayne or Batman since the night of Dent’s death. However, when a sinister new evil emerges in Gotham in the form of Bane, a brutal, merciless mercenary with a serious appetite for destruction, Bruce Wayne must once again become Batman. Even with the help of capable new allies, can he stop a man so hell bent on destroying Gotham?
Batman is a tough character to portray, but Christian Bale once again slips into the role that defines his career and delivers his most genuine and powerful performance to date. And while this is his last hurrah as the Caped Crusader, his performance definitely sticks with viewers long after the credits roll. Tom Hardy steals the show as Bane. Every time he appears onscreen, chills shoot down my spine. The Joker is a scary adversary for Batman because of his unpredictability. Bane is the exact opposite. He walks around with a “You know my plan. Try to stop me” attitude, and Hardy succeeds at conveying that onscreen. Anne Hathaway shines as Selina Kyle, giving audiences a Catwoman that is surprisingly close to her comic book counterpart. Nolan is known for straying from the source material, but his take on Catwoman is not a far cry from the master thief we read about in the comics. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, who turns out to be one of the most interesting characters in the entire trilogy. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return as Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, and each does a fantastic job in their respective roles. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a favorite of Nolan’s, plays John Blake, a police offer who plays a vital role in the events that unfold. Levitt’s standout performance is honest and memorable, and definitely one of the most impressive in the film. Gary Oldman returns as Jim Gordon, and his performance, as usual, will please viewers.
Nolan has outdone himself. Not only does he give audiences the best Batman film to date, he also does every character justice and ties the trilogy together brilliantly. And then there’s Bane. Nolan chose wisely when he decided on Bane as the film’s antagonist, because the guy is one of the most terrifying and fascinating villains ever created. Not only does he have brawn to match Batman’s, but he is intelligent and even scarier for it. He isn’t a mindless brute like he is portrayed in other adaptations. He is a highly intelligent, patient criminal whose decisions are careful and calculated, which means he rarely fails. When he wants something, he takes it, and there’s little anyone can do to stop him.
Nolan takes familiar characters and puts his own twist on them, giving us fresh interpretations that present the characters in a more believable way. The direction he takes here is a bold one, but it works. The Dark Knight Rises takes elements from several popular Batman stories, but ultimately it becomes Nolan’s story. After seeing this film, it is easy to say which story arc he drew from the most, but he weaves powerful messages about legacy and what it takes to be a hero into the film that just wouldn’t work on a comic book panel.
Everything about this film feels bigger. The stakes are higher, the action sequences are larger in scale, and the villain is literally huge. You know that saying “bigger is better”? That definitely applies here.
Epic in scale, brilliantly written, and helmed by one of the greatest directors currently working in the industry, The Dark Knight Rises is filmmaking at its very best. While Nolan won’t be returning to the Batman character, fans can rest easy knowing that this last film is one hell of a conclusion.