On Thursday evening I stayed up till 11:30 because we were at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert (it was awesome!). On Friday night I stayed up till 11:30 because I was watching The Dark Knight Rises. And on Saturday night I stayed up till 11:30 because I was watching Captain Phillips. By Sunday morning I was physically, mentally, and EMOTIONALLY exhausted!
Actually, though, it was all totally worth it. But I’m here to conclude my movie review series on the Dark Knight Trilogy, so without further ado . . .
At first I wasn’t sure whether this one or Batman Begins was my favorite, but now I say without question that The Dark Knight Rises was the best. Even Certain Family Members who aren’t crazy about superhero movies thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was compelling, well-paced, and triumphant–the perfect ending for the story! (FYI we did skip one inappropriate scene and disapproved of some bad words, but other than that, we all loved it.)
Basic plot: eight years since the events of The Dark Knight, Bane, an excommunicated member of the League of Shadows, comes to Gotham with plans for its annihilation. Bruce Wayne reassumes the role of Batman only to be defeated, and must rise from the very depths of despair to rescue Gotham before it’s too late.
*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT*
This film hearkens back to Batman Begins in that Bruce has some major character challenges to overcome. He starts out as a recluse who spends his entire existence feeling sorry for himself. When Jim Gordon discovers Bane’s underground lair, however, Bruce emerges from hiding and becomes Batman for the first time in eight years.
Problem is, you get the impression that he just wants to prove to himself he can still pull this off. He’s older, his body is breaking down–but he can do this, he can tough it out, he can still be Batman. And when he finds out that he can be beaten to a pulp, it’s devastating. Watching it reminded me of Rocky Balboa being defeated by Clubber Lang. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s thrown into prison with a broken back and a TV so he can watch the slow destruction of Gotham.
Thankfully, Bruce’s story doesn’t end there. His escape from prison is the best part of the movie, in my opinion. Before he was captured, he was motivated by fear of failure. But now he tells another prisoner, “I’m not afraid–I’m angry!” He’s filled with righteous anger against Bane and his minions, as well as a frantic desire to save his friends; his old perseverance and courage returns, and he’s able to make the frightful climb out of the dungeon. When he’s almost out and the bats swirl around him–wow, that was powerful enough to send chills up and down my spine.
In the end, Bruce makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives his life for Gotham. Things end a little differently than he (or the viewer) expects, but he was still willing to die for his friends and neighbors. We admire heroes, historical or fictional, to the extent that they reflect Jesus, and Bruce’s selflessness is certainly Christ-like.
Bane (Tom Hardy) is my favorite kind of bad guy. Straightforward, brutal, and complex enough to make him interesting–but not a psychopath. Bane has clear objectives and, although a wicked person, is still capable of loving someone (Miranda Tate). He’s perfectly sane–a tyrant, but sane. Between him, Scarecrow, and the Joker, Bane was the most realistic villain.
Another part of what makes him so realistic is that he’s an all-out Communist. It’s also what makes this film the most politically-incorrect of the trilogy.
We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you, the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please. Start by storming Blackgate [the prison], and freeing the oppressed! Step forward, those who would serve. For an army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive, as they learn to serve true justice. This great city– it will endure. Gotham will survive!
And did you see that French Revolution-esque “people’s court?!” And with Dr. Crane presiding no less, AHEMMM!!! That was very clever to put him in all three movies. Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) was also a very convincing femme fatale. I won’t give spoilers for her character, though, just as I refrained from doing with Ducard in my Batman Begins review 😉
Alfred is such a dear (as always), but he has it rough in this film. He loves Bruce as a son and wants to protect him, but he refuses to sugarcoat things anymore. When Bruce lashes out at him for speaking honestly, Alfred says what everyone (including himself) should’ve been saying at the end of The Dark Knight.
I am using the truth, Master Wayne! Maybe it’s time we all stop trying to outsmart the truth and let it have its day!
Bruce and Alfred, however, aren’t the only ones reaping the consequences of embracing falsehoods for the last eight years. Jim Gordon’s conscience is especially tortured by it, and he almost gives a speech denouncing Dent for the murderer he was–but the speech falls into very, very bad hands and Gotham suffers for it. Gordon does receive closure in the end and remains a likable character, but if this movie teaches you anything, it’s that you should always let the truth have its day, no matter how hard or painful it might be at first.
There for a while, though, it seems like the only people willing to embrace the truth are Alfred and John Blake, a young detective who is “still a believer in the Batman.”
John Blake. Is. Awesome. He’s probably the most relatable character in the trilogy, as well as one of the noblest. He’s also the best person to (SPOILERS!!!!) carry on Bruce’s legacy as Nightwing. He’s honest to a fault and stands on principle, no matter the cost. He hates injustice, just like Bruce, and risks his life to protect a bus full of innocent children.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt did such a great job in this role, I wish Blake could’ve had a whole movie all to himself. My mom firmly believes that after he became Nightwing, he spent his free time investing in the lives of the orphan boys at Wayne Manor. I think that’s an excellent headcanon!
And lastly . . . there’s Catwoman.
Let’s be honest here. The “adaptable” Selina Kyle is one of the coolest characters in the whole trilogy–and I can say that without guilt because she becomes a good girl.
At first Selina will do anything to get her way–but as the movie progresses, we find out she has an intriguing motivation. She wants “a clean slate.” She wants to start over and lead a normal and respectable life, but she can’t break free of her past.
Bruce Wayne is the first person in her life who believes she can break free and become an honorable, faith-full person. His kindness and encouragement chip away at Selina’s pragmatism, but it’s his selflessness that finally changes her heart and brings her solidly on his side.
In my personal headcanon, Bruce and Selina had a “Taming of the Shrew” experience in which Bruce still had to reform and tame her. But they lived happily ever after with plenty of snarky exchanges to keep things lively 😉
It was neat seeing Anne Hathaway again, knowing she went directly from this film to Les Miserables. My sisters and I bemoaned the loss of her beautiful hair, but my mom said it was nice to see her without feeling horribly sorry for Fantine.
And that’s it!!! I have watched and reviewed the whole Dark Knight Trilogy! I consider this a great accomplishment and not at all a waste of my time. Anyone who’s been following my blog for a while knows I love epic stories. I love admirable heroes and dastardly villains, but I always want to see the good victorious and the evil vanquished. These films didn’t disappoint. There were low points, true (The Dark Knight), but truth and justice triumphed in the end. And so I give The Dark Knight Trilogy a round of applause.
I now reserve the right to quote the movies fluently and to talk in a raspy voice when the occasion calls for it! I also reserve the right to act like a Sherlock fan on season hiatus whilst I wait for 2016. It’s too long a wait to see my two favorite superheroes on screen together 😉