The belief that one person, however ordinary, can become a symbol for something larger than him or herself, is a theme that runs throughout The Dark Knight Rises. This film, however formulaic it might be, reinvents this formula wonderfully while at the same time giving an epic send off to Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Batman trilogy. The formula is basically the same in nearly every super hero film ever. There’s a situation, a villain and a superhero who is an ordinary person, things get pretty bad, people fight, our hero and villain clash, there’s always an underlying theme. But it’s not about just simply having this formula and theme; what makes this film great is in the amazing execution.
The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Gotham has changed. Commissioner Gordon has basically cleaned up the streets from organized crime. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and lives in his mansion. He hasn’t been seen in eight years and has let his estate become bankrupt. But bankruptcy comes in many forms, and Wayne seems to care more about the need for something else than he does about money. Naturally, things are too quiet and someone is out to kill Batman. This someone is Bane, who comes to Gotham in order to restore balance to the city. He, along with a bunch of his goons, manage to take the entire city hostage.
What makes The Dark Knight Rises so captivating, is the theme under the surface, and that theme is balance. In order to rise you have to fall. Bane’s sole purpose is to restore balance in a very extreme way. The people of Gotham, while no longer suffering from organized crime, are now suffering silently. So Bane takes it upon himself to disrupt this imbalance of wealth and power by causing absolute mayhem.
This film, while not as good as The Dark Knight, is a brilliant study in character, ethics and morality. It’s almost an impossible feat, to give us a superhero flick, a blockbuster flick, yet have it be one of the smartest discussions in right versus wrong I have ever seen in film. Something also needs to be said for the fact that at nearly three hours long, this film is never boring. Shockingly, I found myself actually rooting for Bane at times. Don’t we want balance? Don’t we want power given back to the people? I know I certainly do. And it’s the way this movie gets us to question both the hero and the villain that makes it so powerful.
The Dark Knight Rises is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s exactly what anyone should want from of a superhero film. The mystery, the wonder, the tying up for some loose ends, and leaving others to hang for our imagination. Even Joseph Gordon Levitt and Anna Hathaway, who have two very similar stagey type styles of acting, fit very nicely here. Hathaway’s Catwoman is fun, energetic, powerful yet full of ambiguity (just like the film).
My only qualm is the fact that most of the action takes place in broad daylight. I found this strange, and very out of form for Batman. It’s just weird seeing Batman and Bane fight in the middle of the day with a bunch of people around them. They could have made this climactic fight more relevant and more, um, climactic. Do we even really see Bane die? He just sort of gets blown away. It’s weird.
Regardless, The Dark Knight Rises is made incredible thanks to the daring turn Nolan chooses to take. It’s really not surprising, considering his first two in this series do the same. If only the world of blockbuster films could be so lucky as to even have one movie like this a year. Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise will be sorely missed. This is a franchise that reinvented what people could think of superhero films. This is a franchise that explored real depth of emotion and more importantly, theme, like most films, regardless of genre, fail to even brush the surface of. I’ll just say it, this is the best trilogy in the history of film. At least it’s my favorite.