A lot of people are on opposite sides of this movie, some hate it, some love it and others are in between. I for one love it and I recognize that it has flaws, but judging just with the experience, I would give The Dark Knight Rises an A+ right now. But I’m not blind; this movie has a few problems that could have been easily avoided.
First off, Bane is a fantastic villain and a completely menacing one. His motivation is a bit unclear, but if you’ve read a comic book you’ll know that his goal is too beat the only person who can stand up to him, which is Batman himself, who has been gone for eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Christian Bale is once again terrific as Batman/Bruce Wayne. You can see how tortured he is and how desperately he wants to make things right again. Michael Caine is still great as Alfred and Morgan Freeman is still fantastic as Lucius Fox. The entire cast is terrific.
Now living in exile, Bruce Wayne has become a cripple and is loosing all his money but when a Mask Man known as Bane arrives in Gotham, Bruce Wayne has no choice but to become the caped crusader once again. Catwoman is also thrown in the mix and is played this time by Anne Hathaway, the third actress to take on the iconic role (Following the footsteps of Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry). Anne Hathaway is by far my favorite Catwoman so far. She’s sexy, completely badass and doesn’t have nine lives like in Batman Returns.
Tom Hardy is fantastic as Bane. He’s menacing, huge and the first villain that can physically overtake Batman. His voice is great and I love his voice. He was a great villain to follow The Joker, even though Heath Ledger’s performance is a little more iconic. The are more newcomers as well; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, Bruce Wayne’s love interest, and Joseph Gordon Levitt as one of the only honest cops that is left.
The opening action scene is terrific, it takes place on a plane where Bane fakes the death of Doctor Pavel “by crashing this plane, with no survivors!” He escapes in another aircraft along with Dr. Pavel “Calm down, Doctor, now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.” And escapes in the aircraft, leaving us wondering what his plan is. The theme, the Masked Man, is absolutely terrific and gives me chills every time I hear it.
Catwoman breaks in the Wayne Manor and takes Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints as well as his mother’s necklace. Wayne tracks her down to a mask party and confronts her. Commissioner Gordon is feeling guilty about lying to the citizens of Gotham of the truth about Harvey Dent. I love where the characters are at during the beginning of this movie. They are all still dealing with what The Joker did, even though he is never mentioned in this film.
Bruce Wayne is forced to come back when Gordon is kidnapped in the sewers by Bane (who also finds his resignation speech) and ends up in a hospital after he manages to escape. Bruce Wayne visits Lucius Fox, who gives him The Bat, resulting in a very funny exchange between the two.
“And yes Mr. Wayne, we do have it in black.”
Bane goes to the hospital and sees the doctor about his leg and visits Jim Gordon in his hospital room, who is emotionally and phically broken.
Bane then attacks the Gotham stock exchange (Notice when he enters the place it’s pitch day out and when he comes out it’s pitch night, a complete inconsistency that could have been easily fixed if it had taken place during sundown).
Bane uses Bruce’s fingerprints that Catwoman stole in a transaction that bankrupts him. And Batman returns on this night and the scene when we see him is so badass. He pursues Bane, but detracts the cops and they follow him downtown Gotham where he escapes on The Bat.
Alfred confesses to him that he burned Rachel’s letter, which results him to leave Bruce hoping that he will stop being Batman in order to save his life.
Batman enlists Catwoman to bring him to Bane but she betrays him and the two are now face to face and Batman doesn’t look ready for this fight.
“Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.”
The fight is brutal and Batman gets not only his ass kicked but Bane breaks his back and takes him to a the same prison where he was born. Bane tells Batman that he wishes to torture his soul with hope since men have tried climbing the pit to freedom but failed countless times.
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Why didn’t you just… kill me?
Bane: You don’t fear death… You welcome it. Your punishment must be more severe.
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Torture?
Bane: Yes. But not of your body… Of your soul.
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Where am I?
Bane: Home, where I learned the truth about despair, as will you. There’s a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth… Hope. Every man who has ventured here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy… So simple… And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to “stay in the sun.” You can watch me torture an entire city and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny… We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.
Now, here we encounter our first problem. We have no idea where this prison is or how far it is from Gotham. It looks super old, and yet, there’s a TV in the cell that shows Bruce everything that Bane does to Gotham, which is rather dumb.
Bane returns to Gotham and starts to take over the city, by exploding the bridges and making his big entrance in a football field, where he explodes it to hell. He then announced to the world that he has given an ordinary citizen the trigger to the bomb that will explode in six months time and kills Doctor Pavel who he earlier forced to change the core reactor into a nuclear bomb, which is how he takes Gotham hostage from the outside world. He lures nearly every cop in Gotham underground and traps them there. Jim Gordon and John Blake are the only one left and try to help from the outside. Bane reads out Gordon’s speech which brings his secrets to the light:
Behind you stands a symbol of oppression, Blackgate Prison. Where a thousand men have languished under the name of this man, Harvey Dent, who has been held up to you as the shining example of justice. You have been supplied with a false idol to stop you from tearing down this corrupt city. Let me tell you the truth about Harvey Dent, from the words of Gotham’s police commissioner, James Gordon: “The Batman didn’t murder Harvey Dent. He saved my boy and took the blame for Harvey’s appalling crime, so that I could to my shame build a lie around this fallen idol. I praised the mad man who tried to murder my own child. While I can no longer live with my lie, it is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth, and it is time for me to resign.” And do you accept this man’s resignation? And do you accept the resignation of all these liars? Of all the corrupt? We take Gotham from the corrupt, the rich, the oppressors of generations who 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 and free 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 survive true justice. This great city… it will endure. Gotham will survive.
This is probably one of my favorite scenes in the entire film. The way it’s shot, written and acted is just terrific. The speech is intercut with people that are being dragged out of their homes into the streets and are forced to fend for themselves among the criminals. Courts are convened and Jonathan Crane A.K.A. is the Judge and his cameo is fantastic in this film. “Death by exile.” One can only wonder what The Joker would be doing if he Heath Ledger was still alive today.
Six months pass. Bruce Wayne slowly heals after one of the prisoners helps him repair his back with a rope. He tries to climb but fails every time until one of the prisoners suggests that he does the climb without the rope. He does and succeeds which and this is one of the most inspirational moments of the entire film. The prisoners are chanting for him and he climbs up, The Caped Crusader rises from the ashes once again (which is where the title comes in).
Now this is probably everyone’s biggest problem with the movie, how did he return to Gotham in so little time? There’s no answer to this question and it’s a fair gripe, but honestly, it doesn’t bother me at all. He’s Batman. He can do anything.
Batman comes back and saves Jim Gordon and John Blake and fights Bane in one last showdown. The finally of this film has me on the edge of my seat. It’s beautiful, emotionally engaging and just plain awesome. The two armies are about to face each other, the Batman flies above them and they both run towards their opposing sides and the battle begins. Batman looks for Bane. Bane searches for Batman. The two find each other in the chaos.
Bane: Well, you came back to die with your city.
Batman: No. I came back to stop you.
Their fight is epic in every sense of the word. It’s brilliantly done and incredibly well choreographed. Batman manages to beat Bane and break his mask and they end up in the courtroom, where Miranda Tate is held.
“Where is the trigger? Tell me where the trigger is, and then, you have my permission to die.”
He is about to kill Bane, but Miranda Tate intervenes, revealing herself to be Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of R’as Al Ghul. She stabs him, vowing that Bane is her bodyguard and that he has protected her all this time for love. She leaves, leaving Batman and Bane together.
“We both know that I have to kill you now. You’ll just have to imagine the fire.”
Bane almost kills Batman, but Catwoman arrives and blows him up with her motorcycle. Bane is killed, and while his death is a bit weak in the film, I don’t see what else could have happened instead.
Batman says goodbye to Catwoman, tells Gordon who he really is, takes the bomb in The Bat and drops it in the water as far away from possible. A funeral is held for Bruce Wayne and I like the fact that only the few people that knew who he was are present. Alfred inherits the rest of the fortune and the house becomes an orphanage.
John Blake retires from the force and finds the Batcave; Lucius Fox finds out that Bruce Wayne had fixed The Bat’s autopilot; a statue of Batman is built in Gotham; Gordon finds the Bat-Signal fixed. Alfred sees Bruce and Selina Kyle happily together in Florence and the two nod and Alfred leaves contempt knowing that Bruce Wayne has finally made it with the woman he loves.
I think this is the perfect wrap-up that the trilogy deserves. And while we don’t know how or when Batman left The Batman before the bomb exploded. The way it’s shot we see that he’s in the Bat 5 seconds before the bomb detonates, but he could have gotten off long before that and have stayed in Gotham.
Overall, this movie definitely has problems, but I can’t bring myself to say that I don’t love this movie. It’s engaging, emotionally enthralling, terrifically acted. Christopher Nolan did a really good job directing this final film of the series, even if it’s the weakest of the three. Tom Hardy is fantastic as Bane and Anne Hathaway is great as Catwoman. The ending is uplifting and a perfect wrap-up to the trilogy.