(This is a spoiler-free review.)
Up until approximately 3:00 AM this morning, I didn’t believe that a perfect superhero trilogy existed. The Dark Knight Rises changed my opinion.
Now, when I say “perfect,” I don’t necessarily mean that each individual movie is perfect in and of itself, for I certainly have nitpicks with all of them. I’m referring instead to the trilogy as a whole, a singular entity, which is the first superhero trilogy ever to make good on its promise of delivering three solid, consistent films while avoiding what one fellow blogger friend of mine calls “The Superhero Curse of Three.”
I want to start off by talking about the film’s pacing, which is always a concern when a movie is as long as the running time of The Dark Knight Rises (a whopping 168 minutes!). I spent so much time on the edge of my seat or engrossed in the story that I never had a chance to “feel” the two hours and forty eight minutes, nor was there ever a moment when I felt the film dragged.
If I had to sum up The Dark Knight Rises in one word: intense. Going in, I was skeptical that director Christopher Nolan would be able to top his established vision of terror and despair for Gotham City that we saw in Batman Begins and more so in The Dark Knight, but my God he does it. This is unquestionably the darkest, bleakest Batman film yet. And its main villain, Bane, is utterly terrifying—once you get used to his voice, that is.
The film wastes no time establishing Bane (Tom Hardy) as a man who—to put it bluntly—is not to be fucked with. His very presence is menacing and the acts of extreme violence and terror he commits against the citizens of Gotham City had me gasping in disbelief. Nolan doesn’t hold anything back here. Imagine the worst terrorist act you can think of. Now multiply that by eleven—that’s how Bane rolls. You thought The Joker was badass? Psh!
But Bane isn’t just a heartless villain archetype. He’s given a backstory that slowly unfolds throughout the film and culminates in a rather shocking twist ending that will make you actually feel for the guy. When we finally learn his true motives, we’re also given answers to questions we’ve had since Batman Begins concerning The League of Shadows. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of treading into spoiler territory.
The performances were incredible all around, but I’d especially like to commend Michael Caine (who damn near made me cry) and The Batman himself, Christian Bale; of the three films, I feel this is by far and away his best. I really bought his pain and suffering, and the emotional transitions he goes through as Batman’s story builds to an epic conclusion. Newcomers Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Detective John Blake/mystery character who isn’t revealed until the very end of the film) and Marion Cotillard (as Miranda) are also impressive, but I was really surprised by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I’ve said before that I’m not really a fan of hers, and I feared her scenes in this film would be campy and irreverent. But DAMN she seems to have been born for this role.
Have I mentioned how spectacular the action sequences are yet? I caught myself wringing my hands in nervous excitement as the action unfolded before my eyes, being so caught up in the moment of everything, unsure of what would happen next. The visuals, direction, special effects, sound, editing—all of it—mindblowing. It truly is an epic cinematic experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. And when you hear it all set to Hans Zimmer’s raw, powerful score, you will feel it in your bones.
And how about that ending, huh!? Huh!? That fucking beautiful ending! (How much do you hate me right now?) For real, though, I am wholly satisfied with Nolan’s vision of Batman and the conclusion he brings to Batman’s story. I left the theater in awe. Chris Nolan, you have outdone yourself. Thank you for giving us this amazing trilogy. It is a masterpiece.
Run, do not walk, to the theater to see The Dark Knight Rises.
10 out of 10 stars.