This is the way the story ends,
Not with a whimper but a BANG!
Don’t worry, I am not going to give away any spoilers in this review (I do my best not to do that in any review, I hate that), but make no mistake, The Dark Knight Rises is the epic finale of a movie trilogy that began seven years ago with Batman Begins (2005).
Nearly everything about The Dark Knight Rises is meant to resonate with people who have suffered and survived alongside “The Batman” these long and difficult years in Gotham. If you do not understand why I say “suffered” and “survived” then you have probably missed the essence of writer and director Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. As with the first movie, The Dark Knight Rises focuses on the struggles of Bruce Wayne both in and out of the cowl. This is not a continuation of the critically acclaimed and Academy Award winning The Dark Knight (2008), but rather the final chapter of the story about how a little boy scarred by the brutal death of his parents deals with life by battling the monsters in both Gotham and his soul.
As always, Christopher Nolan deftly weaves together realistic and complex story development within the sometimes constricting world of a comic book superhero. The Dark Knight Rises is anchored by our “Old friends”, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Mr. Fox, and of course Bruce Wayne, while simultaneously introducing new and compelling characters such as Selena Kyle (Catwoman, though thankfully that name is never explicitly stated in the movie), John Blake (a young beat cop who still believes) and Bane (an evil terrorist who has chosen to destroy Gotham for a reason not discovered until the movie’s conclusion). All of them, in true Nolan fashion, play important roles in moving the plot forward, not generic foils for the hero’s one-liners.
The acting is strong in The Dark Knight Rises (but don’t expect a similar Oscar-winning performance like the late Heath Ledger) and the writing continues to be as thought-provoking and interesting as is possible when the main characters wear skin-tight costumes and drive vehicles that defy physics. The story has some interesting twists and turns and surprisingly many scenes in the middle of the day instead of the night (it is a nice change of pace but there is no mistaking that the scenery is New York City and not a fictitious Gotham, which is a little strange for a DC comic and eerie given the terrorist theme). The Dark Knight Rises offers a lot of action but at times seems to struggle to find a nice balance between the action and the dialogue needed to set up the plot. This makes the movie a little disjointed and dilutes the quality by making it look more like a generic action flick (please be aware that death and violence are still ever present in this movie and should be strongly considered before letting your children watch it). The other aspect that may frustrate some viewers is the fact the masked crusader actually spends very little time in the cowl and for a time much of the focus is spent on other characters. The Dark Knight does eventually find its way back to the both the main character and story line that ties everything together in a nice bat-sized capsule.
The Final Cut: The Dark Knight Rises again transcends the typical superhero genre by using the medium to discuss real issues everyone must face in life; anger, pain, deceit, despair, and hope. These themes are repeated again and again in the story line of every major character and together lead each to their own personal ending that frankly may or may not satisfy movie-goers (I was satisfied). But thankfully your “satisfaction” is not Nolan’s concern; remember this is the conclusion of orphan Bruce Wayne’s story, not yours. The Dark Knight Rises ends with no ambiguity about who the little boy ultimately becomes, not despite of his struggle and despair but because of it.
Grade: B +
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