The wait is finally over…but was it worth it?
The long-awaited conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is finally in theaters, and although it’s no Dark Knight, the epic finale does come close to its critically-acclaimed predecessor. In all fairness, though, how can one top perfection?
Taking place eight years after the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), The Dark Knight Rises has kept fans pretty much in the dark as far its plot is concerned. Audiences know there’s a new villain in town (a bulked up Tom Hardy as Bane) wreaking havoc on Gotham, but beyond other cast additions (including Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle—the word “Catwoman” is never mentioned—and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as officer John Blake), Warner Bros. has gone to great lengths to keep the plot under wraps. While die-hard fans may speculate as to what happens in The Dark Knight Rises, nothing can truly prepare them for Jonathan and Christopher Nolan’s engaging story, and how the brothers somehow manage to fulfill every fanboy’s dream scenario at once while still blowing them away with surprise twists and turns.
Paced more like Batman Begins than The Dark Knight, the tension runs high throughout the feature film, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats for Rises’ 164-minute duration (which still flies by, despite the slower pace). While Bale cements his legacy as the best Batman to date with the movie, delivering a believable performance as both a broken Bruce Wayne and a revitalized Batman, it’s Hathaway, Gordon-Levitt and Michael Caine who truly steal the show from The Caped Crusader. Caine gives a tear-jerking performance as Alfred, afraid that Bane might just be the villain that finally annihilates the man he helped raise since he was a child, and Hathaway is simply purr-fection as Selina Kyle, truly giving Michelle Pfeiffer a run for her money. Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, proves once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s most talented young actors as the do-gooder cop who believes in Batman when others—including the masked man himself—won’t.
Fans will be delightfully surprised to see a few familiar faces pop up during the film as well, and some squashed rumors resurrected and fulfilled. While there’s no mention of the Joker in the movie (for obvious reasons), every other loose end is tied up quite nicely. If it’s been a while, it’s advised one re-watches Batman Begins before seeing the film, as even though the current state of Gotham City is a direct result of what happened in The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises truly plays off of the events in Batman Begins, so a refresher might be needed for some.
As if the Nolan brothers’ gripping story wasn’t enough to keep audiences engaged for nearly three hours, seeing The Dark Knight Rises on an IMAX screen is worth the price of admission alone. Christopher Nolan shot a record-breaking 72 minutes of the film with IMAX cameras, providing viewers with truly one of the most visually stunning films they’ve ever seen. Ticket holders aren’t just on the sidelines watching Batman fight evil in Gotham City—they’ll feel like they’re in the chaotic city streets with him. And that’s without the use of 3-D glasses (take that, James Cameron)!
The only real complaint one may have when leaving the theater is that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish what Bane is saying during the film. While he’s much easier to understand on the big screen than in the trailers (thank God), there are a few moments where ticket holders may find themselves wishing they could stop the film and rewind it to catch what he said. Luckily, even if a few sentences go by inaudible, audiences still get the drift of what Hardy is saying thanks to his body language (Bane’s mask obviously obstructs any facial expressions he might be making).
Also, if this is indeed the end as Nolan says (and it is, there’s no doubt of that), fans might leave the film feeling a little disappointed, as the ending of The Dark Knight Rises sets up a fourth installment quite nicely. Fans will definitely want to continue the story and see what happens next, and it’s a bit upsetting to know that will never happen. Perhaps whomever takes over the franchise next will use the ending of The Dark Knight Rises as a jumping off point, but that’s highly unlikely seeing as it would be a reboot and not a continuation of Nolan’s vision.
While The Dark Knight Rises may fall short of The Dark Knight, that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the best films of the year. Many felt that The Dark Knight was overlooked at the 2009 Academy Awards when it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. With the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences now nominating 10 films for its highest honor instead of five (when The Dark Knight was a contender), perhaps The Dark Knight Rises will be included among next year’s nominees and the franchise will finally take home the gold it so rightly deserves. If not, then I guess there are some situations even Batman can’t make right.
The Dark Knight Rises is now playing in theaters everywhere.
For more information, visit the film’s official website.