Let me say before we start that, in light of the tragic shooting at the midnight premiere in Aurora, I’ve heard people say they’re less interested or even wary of going to see this movie now. And that’s fine, I completely understand that. But I have to say this: the message of this movie and the hope it gives its audience is more relevant now than ever before. It’s about rising from the darkness and being the hero your city needs you to be, whether it is in a mask, wearing a badge, or just as an ordinary citizen. I think people need this movie now to be reminded that even though there are sick, terrifying people out there, there are still heroes and hope in all of us.
Alright, let’s focus on the movie. It was no “Dark Knight”, but really, what could be? That’s an impossible act to follow. Christopher Nolan does an excellent job of making it as close as possible though. The story takes place eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, who was praised as Gotham’s hero who cleaned the streets of organized crime until he was murdered by Batman. As we know, this is a lie. He went mad and was killed accidentally in the struggle to save Police Commissioner Gordon’s son. Batman/Bruce Wayne went into exile following that incident, not leaving his mansion for years. Meanwhile we’re introduced to the villain in a scene that actually tops the bank robbery scene in “The Dark Knight”. I won’t give it away (I’m going to be saying that a lot in this review) but I will say that it involves a fight in midair, and involves two airplanes in a stunt that was actually performed – there is very little CGI in the stunts Nolan pulls off, making them that much more impressive.
Bane is the villain of this movie, and he can be difficult to understand when he speaks (he wears a mask) so pay close attention. I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of his voice initially and I was very nervous about that, but as the movie went on I was fine with it. Tom Hardy is almost unrecognizable and pretty frightening – I was very unsettled by his introductory scene, which surprised me. Let’s not even try and compare him to the Joker though – they are two completely different animals. We’ve got another “villain” in the movie as well, though, (well, sort of villain) in Catwoman, one of the best parts of the movie. Anne Hathaway blew me away with her confidence, unpredictability, and surprising depth to the character. It’s honestly worth seeing just for her (as though you needed another reason).
So, back to the story, Bane has a plan to throw Gotham into chaos by means of nuclear threat and internal war. I won’t go into the details, as you’ll want to find out as you watch, but it’s so detailed that if you’re not paying attention, you’re going to get confused. So enter this movie ready for it. Meanwhile, Batman is of course back from retirement to try and stop Bane, and we’ve also got a young cop on his side, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s always great to see and this movie is no exception. Michael Caine is also brilliant, delivering some of the most emotional scenes in the film. And of course there’s Christian Bale, who plays a much older, tired Batman, but still captures that need to be out there in the mask, protecting the city he loves in the best way he can.
The moment Batman arrives onscreen is indescribably thrilling after his four year absence from movie theaters. There are actually several of those times throughout the movie, the ones where there’s such a great bit of action that there’s an audible reaction of excitement from the audience. The action throughout the movie was as exhilarating as ever, and even the hand to hand fighting between Batman and Bane is gut-wrenching to watch. The story, however, clearly takes precedence over the action, which is partially why Nolan’s movies are so brilliant, particularly this trilogy. The audience connects with the characters from the start, and by the end we’re so attached that there were tears from the audience in my theater, and it’s understandable why. Almost all of us can understand the desire to protect your home from any harm that threatens it. This movie is the story of Gotham’s police and citizens rising up with the aid of the symbol Batman stands for, in the face of the hopeless situation created by a terrible villain. I left the theater very content with the movie, and had few big issues with it other than a few logistical questions and certain points of dialogue. It’s worth seeing for the action, the characters, and, most of all, the story and the message.
Images The Dark Knight Rises a Warner Bros. Pictures (c) courtesy
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