Sean K. Cureton

The Dark Knight Rises is the Perfect Conclusion to Nolan’s Vision of Batman

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on July 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Theatrical Poster

The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by Christopher Nolan
4 out of 4 stars

The Dark Knight Rises might be the most satisfying and greatest summer blockbuster to have ever been released to a mainstream movie going audience. This film, which concludes what has come to be called “The Dark Knight Trilogy” by director and writer Christopher Nolan, has given anyone with the least bit of affection for film the best film adaptation of the DC comic-book character Batman to ever grace the silver screen. The absolutely refined sense of action coupled with realistic character development and sentimentality that the viewer has come to expect from this series after both Batman Begins (2005) and the Oscar nominated sequel The Dark Knight (2008) is present this time around in spades, and the conclusion that Nolan offers his fans with this final installment goes beyond being simply expected, and becomes revelatory and epic like almost nothing else that has come out over the past two decades.

The film picks up right where its brilliant predecessor left off, with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in exile after taking the fall for Harvey Dent/Two-Face’s (Aaron Eckhart) criminal actions, and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) trying to maintain peace and order in a now Batman-less Gotham. Ultimately, the peace doesn’t last as soon as this film’s villain, Bane (Tom Hardy), shows up to finish the work that wasn’t completed by Ra’s Al Ghul/Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) in the first installment, and Bruce Wayne must become Batman again in order to save Gotham from complete destruction and chaos.

What makes this film so wonderful is the way in which the tone that has been set up by its two predecessors is maintained right from the start of this final installment, which provides for a real sense of continuity within the Batman universe that Nolan has created. Also, the surprises, twists, and turns that the plot takes are always shocking and satisfying rather than forced and cloying which has been the case in certain concluding films in past comic book trilogies (see Brett Ratner’s X-men: The Last Stand, 2006, or Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, 2007).

Nolan’s conclusion also provides a number of new characters that only add to the complexity and diversity of the film’s universe and already established cast of characters, rather than divert attention away from characters that we have already grown to love. Of particular note, Nolan’s interesting and creative recreation of Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) is fun and unexpected when she very well might have been boring and derivative of previous incarnations had she been written by someone of lesser talent. Also, Nolan’s character written for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Blake, is surprisingly deep and becomes a bigger force for good in Gotham than Batman or Gordon by the film’s end.

Most importantly though, Tom Hardy’s menacing performance as Bane is effectively frightening and oddly fine-tuned to modern fears of international terrorism and governmental corruption. While Hardy is certainly no replacement for Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in the last film, his portrayal of Bane takes the comic-book character to a level of character development and realization that has never been seen before in any incarnation of this character’s past. The way in which Bane is able to break Batman in a cage fight style is enormously memorable, and different in terms of the rather physically deficient villains that Batman has faced previously in this film series.

Bottom line, there is not one thing that could have made the The Dark Knight Rises better as a film or more satisfying as a conclusion to “The Dark Knight Trilogy.” Christopher Nolan has provided a conclusion to his groundbreaking comic book series that leaves viewers both wanting more and completely content with what has already been done. One almost wishes Nolan would make another movie that has to do only with Levitt’s character, but enough is enough, and as it stands, “The Dark Knight Trilogy” is perfect.

In regards to the Aurora shooting that occured at a midnight screening of this film, I would like to express my own feelings of grief and intense emotional disturbance at what happened on Friday morning, July 20, 2012, in Aurora, CO. I love going to movie theatres. I think it is one of the few remaining communal sources of personal expression that is still engaged in by a wide audience. The idea that someone would turn a place of wonder, life-imbuing energy, and joy into an execution ground is deeply unsettling to me. I can only hope that justice will be served, the surviviors will be healed, and that the dead will be remembered forever by those closest to them.


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