Finally we have a trilogy that not only maintains the same director for all its iterations, but that also maintains and exceeds the quality of each subsequent film.
Congrats, Christopher Nolan. For this fan, The Dark Knight Rises is my favourite entry in your Dark Knight trilogy.
Find out why I feel this way after the jump.
As much as I enjoyed The Dark Knight when it was released back in 2008, I can easily tell you there were a few moments that I thought were just too slow (the scenes on the boat towards the end of the film for me bring the movie to a bit of a standstill). There are no such moments in The Dark Knight Rises, though you could argue that it does take its time getting started after the fabulous opening scene that introduces to Tom Hardy’s big bad, Bane. Instead, the film moves along at a strong pace that serves character and story more than explosions and violence.
I avoided spoilers leading up to the release of the film, and I’m going to do the same thing here. I’ll tell you the basics of the plot – Bruce Wayne has been a recluse for eight years after the deaths of Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent. Gotham City has seen a huge dip in organized crime, thanks to the Dent Act and the actions of Commissioner Gordon. But, like they say, all good things must come to an end. In this case, they end with multiple bangs. And a Bane.
The Dark Knight Rises is full of brilliant performances – everyone from holdovers Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, to newcomers Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle is a different character than Michelle Pfeiffer’s in Batman Returns, and it totally works. Hathaway has the beauty and brains to pull off the complex cat burglar who is a catalyst for many of the film’s core events. Meanwhile, Tom Hardy’s Bane is simply a physically imposing and brilliant villain the likes of which Batman has never come up against. His performance may not be as jaw-dropping as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but it isn’t far off.
And then there’s Christian Bale, who does what every actor who has played Batman/Bruce Wayne never accomplished, and makes him the most interesting character in the film. In Christopher Nolan’s hands, The Dark Knight Rises, along with the previous two entries in the trilogy, are Bruce Wayne’s story. His rise, fall and rise again. Bale delivers over and over in the film, creating the definitive live-action Batman. Whoever comes next is going to have to work extra hard to rise out of his shadow.
So why, at the end of the day, do I consider The Dark Knight Rises my favourite of the three? Because everything is at stake, at virtually every moment. Throughout the nearly three-hour running time, I had moments of extreme tension, since every characters life was up for grabs, even that of Batman. None of the other films offered that – you always knew Bruce was going to make it. This time, you’re just never sure. Same goes for virtually every character. It made for riveting viewing.
As much as I loved The Avengers, as much as I’m a Marvel Zombie through and through, for me The Dark Knight Rises is the movie of the summer. When it was over, I felt like I wanted to go see it on the big screen again, a feeling no other film I’ve seen so far this season has left me with. By completing his vision, Christopher Nolan has left me wanting more and completely satisfied at the same time.
The Dark Knight Rises – essential viewing.