The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Writer/director Christopher Nolan returns for his third Batman film and continues the darker themes that made Batman Begins and The Dark Knight popular. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), Batman’s alter ego, is still dealing with his past, namely the events of the last film in this series – the death and cover-up of Harvey Dent and the fatal loss of his childhood friend, Rachel Dawes – and the never-ending personal dilemma of losing his both parents at a young age.
Unlike the previous Batman films in Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises focuses more on the other characters of Gotham City – the villain, members of Gotham’s police force, and the seductive cat burglary. After the events of 2008’s The Dark Knight, the city of Gotham has become nearly crime free. Batman hasn’t been needed and Bruce Wayne has become a rich recluse. He is slowly brought back in to action when Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) steals something precious from him. She is not addressed by the name Catwoman during the movie, but she is obviously recognized as that character.
Even though he’s still a bit out of shape and battered from his last go around, Batman’s return is timely as a new villain begins to terrorize Gotham City. Bane (Tom Hardy), the muzzled leader of an underground group of criminals hell bent on destroying the city, was trained by Batman’s mentor, Ra’s al Ghul. He is cunning enough to take down the whole city and strong enough to battle Batman, setting up an interesting battle between hero and villain.
The film stays true to many of the features that of the earlier chapters of Nolan’s trilogy. All of the characters, including the new additions of Selina Kyle, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), deal with internal struggles and physical brawls. There is still a scattering of new Batman toys, but they are not highlighted very much since the suited superhero is not given much screen time in his own movie.
But the film is not without its flaws. Some of the dialogue during the first half is full of forced exposition. Honestly, while two people are fighting, they should not take pauses to discuss software programs that aren’t needed for the movie’s plotline. Halfway through the movie, it appears that The Dark Knight Rises could go the same route as Spiderman 3. That 2007 film was a third superhero sequel that tried to cram too many plotlines and details into a 2-3 hour presentation that it became a cumbersome mess. Luckily, Nolan does not allow that to happen to the third film in his Batman trilogy.
The Dark Knight Rises does not rise above the previous two films in this trilogy, but it is a pleasant swan song for a storyline that began with Batman Begins. The ending nicely ties things up while still leaving enough things open for Nolan – or someone else, since Nolan has stated that this is his final Batman movie – to continue the story with some or all of the characters.