A brilliant finale.
***** out of five
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Warner Bros. Pictures
Article first published as Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises on Blogcritics.
In “The Dark Knight Rises,” Selina Kyle, never referred to as Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), informs Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (Christian Bale), that a storm is coming. While she may be alluding to the fact that the burly madman Bane (Tom Hardy) has come to town, the line could be more in tune with moviegoers. There’s a somber feeling in the air here, but it feels completely applicable as we all know that this is the final chapter of the Christopher Nolan-led franchise. Bale is done; Nolan is done. Where does that leave us? In an opening scene, Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) states that he believed in Harvey Dent; well, I believe in Christopher Nolan.
After the phenomenal success that was “The Dark Knight” how could it possibly be topped? It appears that Nolan has adapted the ways of the League of Shadows. Theatricality and deception are on full display, and he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. Writing his series’ farewell alongside his brother Jonathan (with co-story credit going to David S. Goyer), Nolan knows full well that he must leave with a fond adieu—even if it may never live up to everyone’s expectations. What viewers may forget is the same thing that they forgot when “Lost” began its finale after six brilliant seasons. Preconceived notions are everything and you must remember, these have, and always will be, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films.
In “The Dark Knight Rises’” prologue, a plane is about to go down in the middle of nowhere as Bane kidnaps a scientist in midair. Meanwhile, in Gotham, everyone is honoring Harvey Dent Day at Wayne Manor with speeches by Mayor Anthony Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) and Commissioner Gordon. The legacy of Dent lives on eight years after the events in “The Dark Knight” as Gotham is finally living in peace with all the criminals locked up. But what the citizens don’t know is that Dent lived up to his alter ego and Batman saved Gordon’s son’s life from the hands of Two-Face. These days, Batman is wanted for Dent’s murder and Bruce Wayne lives in the east wing of Wayne Manor as a Howard Hughes-style recluse.
At the Harvey Dent remembrance, Selina Kyle breaks into Bruce’s safe, making off with his mother’s pearl necklace. Bruce knows that she has also stolen his fingerprints. Selina is handing them over to John Daggett, a Wayne Enterprise rival, who is using Bane to bring Gotham to its knees. What Daggett doesn’t know is that Bane has his own plans as well and wants to turn Bruce’s well hidden clean energy source into a nuclear bomb. The only person Bruce trusts with it is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Hothead John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is on the case, who seems to be the only person working within the Gotham Police Department who has a clue, both literally and figuratively. Meanwhile, Bane is on the loose, turning the streets of Gotham back over to its people, i.e. the condemned of Gotham Prison and initiates the ticking time bomb Bruce has feared all along.
Can the Dark Knight rise to the challenge and bring a sense of order back to Gotham? Can Bruce Wayne finally find happiness and move on after the loss of Rachel Dawes? Will Alfred (Michael Caine) be forced to bury yet another member of the Wayne family? All the pieces are in place for the grand finale we all deserve. There may be a bomb ticking somewhere in the streets of Gotham, but there’s also one in our head as we know that every second brings us closer to the end. Armed with Nolan’s usual suspects, from his cast of regulars, to cameos from his previous “Batman” films, everything ties together beautifully. For a trilogy that didn’t begin as one, the Bat-house that Nolan built is nothing short of astounding. It’s no wonder Warner Bros. has invested their trust in him to serve as the backbone behind their next upcoming DC Comics venture, “Man of Steel.” If any series needs help getting off the ground again it’s Superman.
Cinematographer Wally Pfister continues to amaze with his IMAX scenes proving that this installment is worth every penny to be seen on as big of scale as possible. Using his previous themes but turning them into something even more grandiose is Hans Zimmer, employing a new piano cue that won’t long be forgotten. And Lee Smith provides his usual sense of editing magic making sure we always know what’s going on and keeps things moving. I never once looked at a watch nor wanted to. Under the tutelage of Master Nolan, these three also wind up giving “The Dark Knight Rises” one of the most brilliantly pieced final scenes we’re likely to see in a long time. “The Dark Knight Rises” is simply one of the best comic book/superhero/action films yet. The series is now one of the best trilogies of all time. And “Rises” single-handedly stands right up alongside “The Avengers” while also standing out as the more emotionally fulfilling.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures