The Dark Knight was an absolute masterpiece and is widely considered to be the greatest comic book movie of all time. Not only is that film my favorite movie of the 2000’s, but it is also one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time. Not only that, but I think that Batman Begins is also absolutely stellar. The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to because of how fantastic both of those movies were and, although I do not think it is quite as good as those two movies, it is a very satisfying end to an utterly masterful trilogy.
The hardest thing that this movie had to accomplish was creating a villain that could follow up the Joker from The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger was absolutely brilliant and that movie and created a character that transcended the “superhero genre” and is, in my opinion, the greatest movie villain ever. It is a crime that we lost such an incredible actor so soon. Christopher Nolan was able to successfully move on from that with Bane who is the second best villain of the Dark Knight trilogy. Not only was he extremely physically intimidating but, like other villains in the Dark Knight Trilogy, he is able to psychologically toy with characters throughout the film, including Batman himself. The scene in which he “breaks the bat” is really heart-wrenching and well-made. Although Tom Hardy was behind a mask for nearly the entire film, a huge amount credit must be given to him. His voice was awesome and the way he used just his eyes to express Bane’s emotions was really fantastic. He really was a scary villain.
The character of Bruce Wayne I think is at his strongest in this film out of all three. The way he constantly pushes himself to his physical and mental limits throughout the movie was amazing and actually very inspirational. My favorite scene involving Bruce Wayne throughout the whole film is when he makes it out of the pit. Who could have thought that a scene in which a character climbs up some rocks out of a whole in the ground could be so emotional and so excitingly thrilling? The whole storyline of Bruce “rising” from the emotional distress left over from the extreme sadness left in The Dark Knight’s wake as well as from being physically broken several times throughout the movie was perfect for the end of this trilogy in my opinion. The world came crashing down on Bruce in the Dark Knight in every possible way; his true love died when he could have saved her, he broke his one rule by killing Harvey Dent, people across the entire city questioned whether Batman should even exist, and Alfred even covered up the truth about Rachel. By the end of the film, it really feels satisfying to know that Bruce Wayne overcame all of that and saved his beloved city.
The other characters in the film are all stellar. Gary Oldman was once again excellent as Commissioner Gordon and he brought a lot of emotional heft to the film. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was absolute perfect casting and her character was also a ton of fun. Lucius Fox, Alfred, and John Blake were all fantastic side characters as well. Each and every character brought a lot of depth to the film that proves that Batman was not the only key component in this films.
The third act of this movie is still one of the best acts in film history. It is so unbelievably thrilling that I get chills every time I watch it. The final fight between Batman and Bane is emotionally riveting and the Bat blowing up tumblers was also epic. The down-to-the-wire nature of the third act is what makes it so fantastic. The ending of the movie was also handled perfectly: Alfred seeing Bruce at the restaurant is the perfect way of revealing that Bruce survived the explosion at the end.
I do have problems with this film, however, and there are quite a few messy elements. The biggest problem with the Dark Knight Rises, in my opinion, is the actual construct of the film. There are a lot of unnecessary characters and subplots that could have been taken out of the movie; Philip Stryver and Foley in particular really had no place in the film. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight generally feel more focused than this movie- both just feel less bloated since every character and subplot felt completely necessary to the overall story. Also, the movie suffers from serious pacing issues which begin at about halfway through the film. The first half is well-paced, but the second half awkwardly zooms through about five month’s worth of time up until the day of the detonation of the bomb. I also had somewhat of a problem with Bane and Talia’s motivations throughout the film. They constantly refer to Gotham as “corrupt,” but we really are not shown where that corruption is coming from. Sure, Gordon lied about Harvey Dent, but Bane only found out about that after his plan had already been set in motion. I think the film would have been better if the League of Shadows found out about that lie and, as a result, made the plan to destroy Gotham rather than to have them find out thirty minutes into the film. They successfully show how Gotham is “decadent” though, and so I can buy into Bane and Talia’s motivations to an extent. Bane’s voice also could have sounded better; there are lines throughout the film that I still do not understand even after seeing the film many times.
Overall, despite the negatives that I have with the movie, it is still one of the best comic book films ever made. I love The Dark Knight Rises and have an absolute blast every time I watch it.