By Will Barber – Taylor
Batman is 75 years old this year. To celebrate I shall be posting a Bat Cave full of reviews and articles dedicated to The Dark Knight. The ninth and final review of the series is The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s controversial ending to The Dark Knight Trilogy.
The Legend Ends…
Eight years after defeating The Joker and saving Harvey Dent’s good name, Batman has disappeared. With peace surrounding Gotham Commissioner Gordon becomes anxious about the truth of Harvey Dent. Meanwhile, a new threat to Gotham is presenting itself in the form of Bane, a terrorist out to destroy Gotham. Batman decides to return from his absence which sparks a series of events leading to a final climactic battle with Bane which will change the destiny of Gotham forever.
While The Dark Knight is the great hit of the trilogy, the follow up, The Dark Knight Rises is seen as the worst film. This is partially due to people’s expectations because The Dark Knight Rises is such a different film to its predecessor. It is more linked to Batman Begins than The Dark Knight in terms of narrative structure and of content.
The Dark Knight Rises though doesn’t feel that same as Batman Begins, it feels more like the famous Batman graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns”. Of course, it has many plot points similar to that book but the actual tone and theme of returning from a death like state (experienced by Wayne in both pieces because of his enforced absence as Batman) is a much stronger link. Both The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Rises are about unfinished business with Batman realising that he can go on no longer being Batman and so plans his exit from the cape and cowl in the most dramatic way possible and to make sure that Batman leaves a lasting impact on the people of Gotham, one which will never be forgotten.
Christian Bale’s final appearance as The Caped Crusader is slightly marred by the fact that for the majority of the film he is not in the Batsuit. This was one of the great complaints of the film but it makes sense with the plot as for a good part of the film Wayne is deprived of his Bat Suit, which mirrors the events in Knightfall which, in a similar manner to this film, Batman is crippled by Bane and left for dead and spends months recuperating before his back heals and he is able to defeat Bane. This also means we get to see greater psychological insight into Wayne and how he is coping thanks to his enforced exile as Batman. Bale plays up these scenes well and we see that without being able to let out his pent up rage as Batman he becomes brooding and introvert and can only release his feelings of loss and pain by being Batman. When he is Batman, Bale is as always brilliant showing off real grit and determination to win through to the end no matter what the personal cost to himself.
Tom Hardy is greatly menacing as Bane even though you can’t always hear what he is saying due to the ridiculous mask he is wearing over his face (which has no explanation except he has a wrestles mask in the comics) his physical presence alone gives out a great statement of what Bane is, a ruthless tactician who will do whatever he can to break Batman.
Anne Hathoway as Catwoman comes as a refreshing break for the trilogy slightly all male grouping. While Rachel Dawes (played by Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal respectively) did appear in the two previous films she never really had much of a presence. Hathoway’s Catwoman, however, does as she has a stronger character than Dawes and also Hathoway makes her character seem more unique. Like Batman she exists in a moral grey area which makes her more complex and interesting than say some of the more defined characters (such as Bane who exists firmly outside the confines of morality). Unlike Batman she starts off just interested in gaining from the situation that faces Gotham and throughout the film we see her change her ways so that she not only aides Batman but also helps to save Gotham.
The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the best Batman film but it certainly isn’t the worse (I’m looking at you Batman and Robin) and manages to actually be quite a fitting, if flawed end to The Dark Knight Trilogy. It seems to focus more on what happens to someone when you take away their identity and they then regain that identity. It is all about using all the power you have got to make a stand against all the evil in the world and perhaps change a life or two; which is also what the character of Batman is about.