Batman and Christopher Nolan have struck again! It’s time to wrap up the trilogy that has people talking – it’s time for The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight left us saying, “Wow, Batman is an outlaw. How does he endure?” With Heath Ledger’s death, people were asking, “How will Batman survive without his greatest Rogue? Well, The Dark Knight Rises lives up to every ounce of hype. TDKR starts off with a speech about Harvey Dent that sets the tone leading into what we saw in the trailer of the plane in midair being sabotaged. Then, we get our first look at the main baddy, Bane. At first, you hear Bane and you think, “Huh, did he channel his inner Sean Connery?” Tom Hardy is difficult to understand at times, but his monologues are powerful because, although you cannot see his mouth, his body language helps you feel what Hardy’s passionate delivery. Overall, I was very impressed with Tom Hardy’s version of Bane. Yes, as a comic book fan-boy you have to understand Nolan’s more realistic vision doesn’t include a hyped-up-venom-infused hulk, but a tad bit of realism doesn’t hurt the ultimate performance.
Enter the Catwoman, Anne Hathaway, and probably one of the most scrutinized of all the cast due to the fact that many argued Hathaway lacked the sex appeal that Catwoman has in the comics. Hathaway’s version of Selena was on point! Much like Ledger’s Joker, where he channeled all popular versions of the character from Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, and even Mark Hamill, Hathaway gives you () all versions of Catwoman from Ertha Kitt, Julie Newmar, and Michelle Phiefer. Anyone that has read a Catwoman book in the last 10 years will see that Hathaway and Nolan did their homework by bringing her subtle sexiness and her cunning way of blending in with both sides, good or evil. Hathaway adds depth to the character and illustrates that trademark cunning conflicted nature as she convincingly shows Selina Kyle playing the screaming victim in the bar scene as a ploy escape the cops, making a conscience decision to help free Gotham when she could have used the Bat-pod to escape Gotham , and finally transitioning to Batman’s quasi-partner to save him from what would seem certain death.! But Hathaway was not the only cast member in the public’s cross hairs for the portrayal of their character as the movie finally addresses the mysteries and theories behind Joseph Gordon Levitt’s, John Blake.
Everyone was screaming for Levitt to be Dick Grayson incognito and to become either Nightwing or Azreal. It turns out, people were not too far off, and after watching the film, it seems that Blake is a potpourri of all versions of Robin: Dick Grayson – an orphan, whose parents were killed, Jason Todd – an orphan, who traveled from foster home to foster home, Tim Drake – a master detective and discoverer of Bruce’s identity as Batman. As you can see in TDKR, Blake believed in Batman. Even in his conversation with the Commish, standing in front of the broken Bat signal (Remember, Commissioner Gordon took an axe to the Bat-signal at the end of the last movie) you can tell he knew the secret. Then, the big bomb is dropped at the end when at the Wayne estate hearing he is asked for his full name, which turns out to be Robin John Blake. While some people are complaining that it was a cheap move, I think it was Nolan’s way at a wink and a nod to the fans.
Many other actors have returned to reprise their roles as some of our favorite Gothamites in this all-star cast as well. Michael Caine gave us another perfect performance as Alfred. Alfred has been Bruce’s guiding light, and Nolan has stressed this relationship in all the films. In my opinion, he may snag an Oscar nod for the cemetery scene alone. Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon was, yet again, amazing! Though, he is laid up in a hospital most of the movie, the fact that he is still running the show is clear when he promotes Blake to Detective. Cillian Murphy reprised his role as Dr. Crane (Scarecrow), the judge in Nolan’s version of No Man’s Land. Liam Neeson made his cameo as Ra’s, visiting Bruce in a cell in a flashback that resembled the way he approached him in Begins. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox was, again, perfection. It was fun watching the way that Lucius, even after Batman “retired,” was still making toys for him as if he knew the Batman would return. And then you have another new kid on the block with Marion Cotillard as Miranda A/K/A Talia al Ghul. We witness a character progression that includes her moving from a no name business woman to ultimately fulfilling her destiny, unleashing a master plan to avenge her father, Ra’s al Ghul’s, death. In another nod to fans of the comics, we are offered a glimpse of Bruce and Miranda getting it on, causing a bit of immediate speculation over the possibility of Damian Wayne making a future appearance!
There were a few editing issues (Bruce’s limp switched in a scene, for example). Miranda’s capture in the court room after Scarecrow passes judgment on Gordon and Fox also raised an eyebrow; she is seen sitting, making adjustments to the holding panel of the nuclear core moments after they are caught tagging the trucks, and then suddenly they are in the courtroom. These, however, were easily overlooked due to the passion that was invested by the cast and crew. While the movie has garnered some mixed reviews, citing that some fans got a tad lost, other fans followed it all the way through without hesitation. The difference probably comes mainly from people who know the source material and people who do not. This movie is clocking in at 2 hours and 44 minutes, and probably could have been easily pushed to 3 hours with extra scenes explaining some of the quick-flash scenes that we saw at the end. One of the film’s greatest highlights, though, has to be watching Christopher Nolan make references and give cameos to everyone that has left a mark on the trilogy. Sadly, while there was no overt reference to the Joker, GCPD Officer Blake may be the only subtle nod to the Joker we will get as Blake appeared in a Batman newspaper comic wherein the Joker stole his report card.
Overall, this movie was superb, and is by far the pinnacle to Nolan’s masterpiece. We recommend TDKR to anybody hesitating seeing it. Just go; it was worth the price of admission and then some.
Owner of Still Smoking Records
Batman Fan-Boy and one of the 4 Horsemen of 3 Alarm Comics