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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 20: The Dark Knight Rises


July 20: The Dark Knight Rises

"Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy."
Directed by: Christopher Nolan, Rated: PG-13, 164 minutes

The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment in what will now go down as one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It's hard to believe that just seven years ago, Christopher Nolan resurrected The Caped Crusader with Batman Begins and it's even harder to believe that it's now all over. And boy, what a conclusion it is. The Dark Knight Rises is massive, on a scale never seen before. While The Dark Knight will probably be looked back upon as the strongest film in the series, The Dark Knight Rises will be remembered as one of the greatest conclusions in modern film history. Yes, it has plenty of flaws (the middle is a bit of a mess), but when the parts all come together the way they do, and the series comes to a beautiful finale, all is forgiven. 

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, TDKR shows Gotham in a time of peace, where a law set in place locks up criminals much easier than before. Batman's been missing the entire time, as the police and the public look at him as a murderer. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, hiding in his mansion and refusing to make any kind of public appearance. His body is clearly worn out as well, and the billionaire playboy limps through life with a cane. The toll of being Batman clearly has taken a toll on Bruce, physically and mentally. He's a shadow of who he was, both as a man and the hero. Unfortunately for Gotham, a time of peace can never last and one can consider it the calm before the storm. Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), an absolute beast of a man, with unimaginable brute strength that tears through anyone, or anything, in his path. The man has a plan and there is seemingly nothing that can stop him. As Bane descends upon Gotham with his army of soldiers, Bruce must contemplate whether or not to return to the cowl, and if Gotham is even ready for him to return. There is also the beautiful Selina Kyle (played with the perfect combination of sass and sexy by Anne Hathaway), a cat-burglar who is using the time of peace to steal from the rich and eke out a living any way a girl can. Of course, Bruce still has his allies, as both Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) have not given up on the man. While Alfred hopes that Bruce will leave the symbol behind and move on in his life, Lucius continues to produce gadgets and vehicles Batman could add to his arsenal. As for Batman, his ally in Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) remains steadfast, as the two have shared a dark secret over the last eight years. Gordon has turned the Gotham Police Department into a great task force against crime, but he's always weary and on alert that all of that can change in an instant. Enter John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young "hothead" cop who knows that there's never a time to relax and that the fight on crime is constant, even when it's just petty thieves and criminals. As everything around all of these characters begins to fall apart, and the city falls into chaos, each person plays a vital role in what happens. 

The Dark Knight Rises uses incredible set pieces and larger than life settings to completely bring Gotham to life. It really is one of the country's greatest, and largest cities and it's in this film that we really see how connected it is to the world we know. Just like New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and LA, Gotham has it's own character (it even has its own football team). Nolan uses every block and every building to his advantage, and when something on this large of a scale falls apart, the emotional effect is even stronger. We see the city lay in ruin with all hope seemingly lost and you really feel anxious for everyone on screen. Once the action gets going, there's a terrible sense of dread throughout the movie and there is very little that can be expected. Gotham is at war and The Dark Knight Rises is an incredibly unflinching look at what could easily happen in the real world. 

The Dark Knight Rises is more than just a Batman film. It's really a story about people doing whatever it takes to survive and it just so happens that a man in a black suit is at the center of it all. The cast of characters is much greater than its predecessors and thus, is all about the performances by the actors and actresses that embody these roles. Christian Bale is at his best and The Dark Knight Rises really gives him a lot of time to play the emotional, human side to Batman. A large focus of the film is Bale as Bruce, and the heart-breaking struggles he faces. Of course, a hero is only as good as the evil he faces and Tom Hardy delivers an absolutely terrifying performance as Bane. Hardy is a masked brute that tells his story with his massive muscles and his evil eyes. Imagine a circus and the villains of The Dark Knight Trilogy. Ra's al Ghul is the ringleader, opening the show with a message, giving a vague idea of what is to come. The first act, Scarecrow, disrupts the normality of things and fogs the senses, giving false illusions to what is actually going on. Then, The Joker appears. He has a thing for the theatrical and demands attention. He throws the show into chaos, disrupting the order of things ever so slightly, but enough to leave a lasting impression. He's the entirety of the circus, both the main event and the sideshow. Then, just as everything seems like it's over and the show is ready to pack up and move on, Bane enters and tears everything apart, taking the show hostage. He transforms the circus into something entirely different, changing spectacle into horror. As the tent falls down, nothing is safe, and what was expected is something entirely different. 

The Dark Knight Rises is not a perfect film, but it's a perfect ending to an incredible story told across three different movies. It wraps up everything completely, referencing both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to great effect. There is a huge feeling of satisfaction at the conclusion and it really feels like the journey is complete. The last ten minutes alone will leave many dazed and amazed, and will certainly go down in history as one of the greatest finales of all time. Christopher Nolan created a detailed, gritty, realistic world with Batman Begins, and by the end of The Dark Knight Rises, the world feels both entirely explored and invested in. It's quite the accomplishment in, not only story-telling, but film-making. It sets the bar incredibly high for the future. It's brave, it's bold, and it's incredibly memorable. 

The Good:
a fitting finale for Batman, his allies, and his city
The Better:
a story's final chapter that plays out wonderfully on an ambitious scale with fierce brutality and packed full of emotion
The Best:
seeing the trilogy as an entire story, and how perfectly everything comes together when looked at as a whole

Overall: 9.5/10


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At July 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM , Anonymous Dan O. said...

Great review Nick. This flick had me right from the start, and never let go no matter where it's story went. Perfect send-off to Batman and I can't wait to see what else Nolan does with the rest of his career.

At July 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks. And yeah, I'm really sad it's all over, but I can't wait to see what Nolan has in store for us.

At July 27, 2012 at 11:12 AM , Blogger MT said...

Not Batman.


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