The Dark Knight Rises features director Christopher Nolan at his visual and ideological best, successfully capping an end to his Batman series with a tale of good vs. evil set in a world plunged into darkness.
With each mammoth new release Nolan outdoes himself. Yet so accomplished is The Dark Knight Rises in every way that it’s surely impossible for Nolan to raise the bar any higher. This is Nolan saying goodbye to the Batman universe with a roaring bang that’s worth every buck and then some.
Set 8 years after The Dark Knight, the film opens on a Gotham City that has rid itself of its crime element and of the vigilante Batman, who is blamed for the murder of Gotham’s late white knight Harvey Dent. Secluded in his mansion is Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a shadow of his former self, wounded outside and in and a shut-in from the rest of the world.
When mysterious terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) puts into action a plan to destroy Gotham City, Batman rises from the shadows to fight this new scourge with help from warhorse Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), idealistic cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and unpredictable cat-thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).
Clocking in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, there is a lot to consume in The Dark Knight Rises, but the quality of its content is of such high value that every minute is worth digesting.
Nolan has proven himself a filmmaker able to merge ideas with spectacle, and The Dark Knight Rises has plenty of both. Simply speaking this is a film that deals with the eternal battle of good vs. evil, yet it’s the grey between the black and white that makes this superhero movie a provocative and entertaining watch.
Most interesting of all is Nolan’s philosophy of heroism in the presence of seemingly invulnerable evil. In Bane – played with menacing authority by a gas masked, metallic sounding Tom Hardy – the Batman universe is given a villain that is as physically imposing as he is intelligent, using revolution as a means to establish tyranny and destruction on such a mass level that it makes the Joker’s exploits in The Dark Knight look like child’s play.
Much like many of those over the decades who stood up to violent oppressors, Batman /Bruce Wayne’s greatest weapon is his spirit, which serves as a symbol that – as intended in the series opener Batman Begins – is a beacon of hope for the citizens of Gotham City. But hope must first rise from the darkness and boy does The Dark Knight Rises get very dark, even scarily so at times with a shockingly bleak tone proceeding over much of the movie.
That’s not to say fun isn’t had with The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan has truly become a great action director with sequences beautifully staged and executed, the introduction of new Bat-toys gives an exciting edge and the interplay between Bale’s Batman and Hathaway’s Catwoman is fun to watch.
Many surprises feature throughout The Dark Knight Rises. Perhaps the biggest is that Nolan has managed to better what many believed to be his best films in The Dark Knight and Inception. Maybe that means he will finally earn that much elusive Oscar love. After all, if The Dark Knight Rises has taught us anything it’s that hope will rise from the most dark and corrupt of places.