The final piece in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy has finally been released, and with it the answers to several questions that had been opened throughout the trilogy. Beyond that, this film manages to tie in several elements from the first two into it and that truly makes for a very complete experience, whether you watch just this one, or the entirety of the trilogy. Nolan does a terrific job concluding The Dark Knight Rises, and in turn, the trilogy that holds possibly the darkest adaptation of Batman that has ever graced the silver screen. Luckily for me, I got to catch the marathon of the entire trilogy: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises all in succession. That means, for you my loyal readers, that you will get either all three reviews, plus a trilogy review tonight, or this review tonight, and the first two a little bit later in the week. While doubtless the” Dark Knight Massacre”, as it will herein be called, will certainly hinder people from rushing out to see this movie, please be aware that that was an isolated incident, and don’t let that horrific act of violence deter you from viewing what some argue to be the best of the trilogy. Of course, thoughts and prayers obviously go out to those who lost loved ones in the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and everyone that has heard of the incident relates to your pain.
First off, casting was excellent, with the recurring characters preforming exactly as you’d expect. Morgan Freeman, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine all put their best foot forward and reprise their roles with more emotion than has really been shown in the previous films. Anne Hathaway was the dark horse here. She was the one that was under the most pressure here. The question was often asked, “How can Hathaway, the lovably awkward girl from The Princess Diaries, possibly showcase the character that such a femme fatale must possess? Can she even hold a candle to Michelle Pfieffer or Uma Thurman in Burton’s or Shumacher’s Batman films?” Many scoffed and resigned to the failure that they knew was inevitable. And then… it wasn’t terrible. It was fantastic. Hathaway played the character of Selena Kyle/Catwoman with as much tenacity as she can muster, she put her all into this character, and the result is marvelous. She brought the perfect balance of sex appeal and dominance to this character, and she often stole the spotlight in any scene she was in. Past that, Nolan basically drafted the cast of Inception to work with him. Five cast members from that film showed up here, which may be coincidence, but it’s always fun to postulate conspiracies. Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy all starred in both movies, and the merits of casting a group of actors already accustomed to working together are obvious throughout the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the quickly progressing Officer Blake did well also, not only adding a distinct rift in the police department that helped the tension in the film build, but showing a sense of hope throughout the film when all else seemed lost. Marion Cotillard was, unfortunately, merely innocuous. She wasn’t really a prominent character, and even the scenes she was in, she just seemed apathetic. Tom Hardy, portraying the huge strategy oriented villain, does an excellent job, but my only complaint is whatever they used to change his voice occasionally caused me difficulty in understanding a few words. Overall, however, his appearance and demeanor were ominous, and he was a powerful character from the very first scene.
The plot at its surface, like every other superhero flick, is the city falling into turmoil, and then the superhero saving said city. The Batman films have always been deeper than that though, and the main theme throughout this film is pain, not only to one’s body, but to one’s mind and soul. Bane spends the entire time, just as Joker did in The Dark Knight, trying to break Batman, but the two differ in the methods, the reasoning, and the way they wish to break him. The Joker wished to force Batman to deviate from his own personal moral code, and Bane just wants him to suffer until he can’t endure any more. Not his body, but his mind. Of course, this whole trilogy has been about psychological manipulation from the start, so ending it in the same way is a perfect circle. This film also draws a full circle back to the first film, which is real payoff for those devoted fans who follow Batman religiously. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce Wayne is extremely prominent in this film, and to many people’s surprise, the character of Bruce Wayne plays a more important role in this film than his masked alter ego, which is a nice change of pace, and essential to making this work the emotional end that was necessary to conclude this trilogy. At 2 hours and 45 minutes long, this film may seem long to some, but the pacing that was used throughout was perfect for this concluding tale, and it didn’t feel that long to me at all. Certainly more than your common superhero film, but exactly on par with the remainder of this trilogy.
The visuals in this film left little to want. In true Nolan fashion, this was not filmed in 3D, and even if IMAX 3D is the big thing these days, he refused to sacrifice certain quality aspects for 5 letters and a number that adds in revenue. Sure, you could see this in IMAX, but with a whopping 40 minutes of film shot with IMAX cameras, and the rest in 35 or 70mm, there’s really no point. I don’t feel as though I lost anything by viewing the normal 2D showing, and even in the standard showing, the visuals were stunning. Not only was it a game of visuals, but the atmosphere that it all created was stunning, and beneficial to the gloomy, depressing tone that the film, and indeed the trilogy, conveyed. The city left in shambles, the destruction of a football stadium, and the complete anarchy that occurs after the people take over are only a few of the scenes that really leave you breathless. This film, while visually stunning, won’t quite live up to the IMAX 3D expectations that most people have now. The beautiful thing of it though, is that IMAX is completely unnecessary to enjoy this movie entirely.
Overall, to get full enjoyment out of this film, you don’t need to see it in IMAX, you need to invest in seeing the first two movies relatively close to when you view this. The overarching story is lost otherwise, and in all actuality, that is the true meaning of Christmas… or, um, the true point of this film. The conclusion of this trilogy is more than just a movie, it is the end of an entire era of Batman, the darkest, most severe adaptation to date, and whether you feel that Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, or The Dark Knight Rises is the best of the three, the real point of the trilogy is to be just that, a trilogy, an entity in and of itself that portrays a theme, a certain emotional build up, through the entirety of the three films. At some point it stops being three distinct movies and becomes a three piece story that feels almost incomplete without the other films, and the end of this film was that point. After seeing the way it all tied into itself, there’s no other way you could conceive watching these movies. So, please, don’t let anything stop you from seeing this film, because without it, Nolan’s Batman cannot be complete. Seeing it is a necessity to finish out the darkest, and most powerful, adaptation our favorite millionaire vigilante, Batman.
That doesn’t stop us from discussing which is our favorite! Personally, I preferred The Dark Knight over The Dark Knight Rises, but that may just be my love for psychologically centered films, and the chaotic nature of the second really throws that in the spotlight. Donate if you want, I don’t really care, but comment with your favorite of the trilogy down below! Always interesting to see differing opinions on things like this!