The Dark Knight Rises is not your typical summer blockbuster. While superhero movies thrive on special-effects laden scenes, big explosions and thrilling fight scenes, The Dark Knight Rises highlights the vulnerability of our world and that anyone, not just Bruce Wayne in a Batman suit, can be a hero.
Christopher Nolan's series has grown steadily darker with each successive Batman installment and The Dark Knight Rises
is no exception. This third and final installment plays on our worst
nightmare. Bane's attack on Gotham City is a 9-11 terrorist attack on
Early in the movie our expectations for a superhero are shattered
when Batman is beaten badly by Bane and is dumped down a well-like
prison with no possibility of escape. Bane taunts Bruce Wayne with a TV
news feed so he can watch Gotham burn while he languishes in prison
unable to do anything.
Surprisingly The Dark Knight Rises is not about a superhero, but how anyone can be a hero even in the worst circumstances. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) finally has the strength to confront the lie told about Harvey Dent after Bane publicly reads Gordon's confession. Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt),
a police officer promoted to detective, shares several interesting
parallels with Bruce Wayne such as being an orphan and struggling with
his own personal anger.
Blake also believes in doing what is right even when Bane and his
massive army is against him. While Bruce is in jail, it's Blake's
efforts that spearhead the resistance against Bane. Selina (Anne Hathaway),
who plays a sexy, smart and a kick ass Catwoman, also discovers there
is more she values than just petty thievery. She decides to stay and
fight Bane even when she has a chance to escape the doomed city.
Perhaps the one flaw in The Dark Knight Rises is an
overemphasis on the back story of Bane and the reemergence of the evil
League of Shadows intent on destroying Gotham City forever. The Dark Knight didn't
have to deal with any lengthy history with the amusing and psychotic
Joker played brilliantly by Heath Ledger. In comparison to past
villains, Bane seems menacing, but doesn't have a riveting screen
presence. Tom Hardy, who played Bane, undoubtedly was limited by the
scary, but static leather mask he wore throughout the entire movie.
The action sequences and special effects are wonderful when on the
screen, but mostly bookend the movie with Bane seizing control of Gotham
at the end of the first act and the final showdown when Batman fights
Bane. Audiences who are expecting non-stop dazzling special effects
might be disappointed in the slow middle act when Gotham is under Bane's
control while Batman languishes in a prison.
The Dark Knight Rises, however, is a satisfying conclusion
to Christopher Nolan's three-part saga. When Batman does return to take
on Bane, the aerial flight sequences in Batman's new beetle-like flying
vehicle are impressive. Nolan also provides an interesting twist at the
end where it seems the good guys are fighting a battle they can't
possibly win. Perhaps the best message in the series' conclusion is you
don't have to wear a costume or spend billions of dollars on fancy
gadgets to be a hero. That quality comes from the heart.