The Reel Deal – “The Dark Knight Rises”

When Christopher Nolan took the helm of reviving the Batman franchise after ‘Batman and Robin,’ nobody could have predicted how much of an impact ‘Batman Begins’ made when it was released. Dark, emotionally grounded and surprisingly down-to-earth, ‘Batman Begins’ was a great movie that eventually led to the critically acclaimed sequel ‘The Dark Knight,’ a movie that is being revered by many critics and moviegoers as the best comic book film to date.

Now after four long years for Batman-fans, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is finally here, and despite its flaws, it is a worthy conclusion to an excellent and beloved trilogy.

The story of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ takes place eight years after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent at the end of ‘The Dark Knight,’ and Bruce Wayne is officially hanging up the cape and cowl while Gotham City begins to clean itself up under the newly-proposed Dent Act.

Despite being worn from his long battle against the criminal underbelly of Gotham, Bruce will have to rise again as Batman when a new threat appears in the form of Bane, a masked terrorist who is as cunning as he is physically intimidating, in order to save Gotham once again from total destruction.

While this movie has its share of spectacle and action, there’s much more to the story than that. After eight long years of crime-fighting, Bruce Wayne has been worn out from his battles as Batman, and his first appearance in the movie alone is almost tragic.

This is what defines Batman as one of the best comic book characters to date: he has no superpowers. Ever since ‘Batman Begins,’ Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have dived into the essence of both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and everything comes full circle here. In fact, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ makes ‘The Avengers’ looks like a kids’ fantasy in comparison.

Like many epic conclusions to a series, there are many new characters brought into the story this time around, but this does lead to one of the movie’s major problems. While some characters are well-developed and interesting, some of them are rather flat or just don’t get enough screen-time.

Thankfully, the addition of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is excellent and manages to add a cunning edge to the character while still retaining the humor and seductive nature of the comics.

The action in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ also features some incredible set-pieces (especially when viewed in IMAX), and the production values and direction are as excellent as any other Christopher Nolan movie.

While ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is an excellent film, it’s not quite the masterpiece that ‘The Dark Knight’ is. Some characters tend to drop in-and-out of the story, and the ending – while still satisfying – isn’t as groundbreaking or powerful as it could have been and Bane just doesn’t quite match the terrifying heights of Heath Ledger’s turn as The Joker. Despite these problems, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ does a remarkable job of standing up to its predecessor and manages to conclude the trilogy on a high note with its grand scale and raw emotion. It is an excellent movie that combined with its predecessors makes one of the best trilogies in recent film history.

Rating: 9/10 (Excellent)

by Seth Childers