Finally the long wait is over as the last installment of Christopher Nolan‘s realistic and gritty take on the Batman mythology comes to a fitting end with a bang, a really loud one.
It’s been seven years since Nolan and Co. shook things up the way superhero should be made with the psychological bare-fist thriller Batman Begins. In 2008, they took the world by storm with The Dark Knight which featured The Joker and a brilliant display of multi-layered climaxes and fantastic action sequences (not to mention an unprecedented viral campaign, Why so serious?). But the last installment almost never saw the light rise when Heath Ledger who played The Joker passed away before the film even hits the theater, leaving a legacy of menace and taking an epic finale in a would-have-been third film to the grave. During those year I really thought there would never be a third act because The Joker’s role is very much alive with no one crazy enough to step up to that role and the filmmakers will have a very tough time cracking up a new missile launch code. But they did. The idea was: the only way you can replace The Joker who just wants to see the world burn is to put in someone crazy enough to burn the world himself. That’s the entirety of what the third act, The Dark Knight Rises, needs to deal with.
And oh my, Bane and his army answered the call and he is that guy who is a lot bigger, stronger, smarter and worst of all, a ruthless killer with an even worse sense of theatrics in spreading mayhem. Ra’s al Ghul burned the Wayne Manor, the Joker blew up a hospital, but Bane he just wants to blow the whole city up like Hiroshima. You see this guy means business, he has plans and its all bad news for the people of Gotham. And we saw it coming when Tom Hardy, the one playing Bane, quoted in 2010 Nolan film Inception:
By the way, I already saw the film so I want to give the readers a juicy detail (it’s not a spoiler!): Bane came from Hell. The movie literally has one and you have to see it for yourself. There was this some sort of parable or legend (like the thief in Burma) that sometimes a man has to rise up from hell to save the world, but sometimes Hell itself spat out something nasty. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are notorious for having villains with no origins as to where they came from or how they come to be. But for a third act, Nolan paid homage to the previous Batman films giving us a close look into the origins of Bane including why he wears his mask. For a film to be great, it needs a greater villain.
I wont talk about the plot of the film because it’s just hard to describe. Let’ s just talk about the film. It is long with almost 3 hours running time and it gets complicated down the middle with lots of secrets pulled out of the closets. But it’s all worth a great set-up for an epic climax that’ll blow you away. The tone of the film is really heavy emotionally, I mean there are depressing scenes where our heroes and Gotham City reaches their breaking points and a few other disturbing bad news. And trust me, it sure got a lot Bane’s fingerprints all over it.
The amazing ensemble of cast Nolan has assembled once again delivered to its standards. Forget about how good The Avengers make a great boyband because it won’t help you, they’re just a fluke in the greatness of the Nolanverse Batman. When it comes to casting, the number one question in everyone’s mind is ‘Did Tom Hardy pulled off a Heath Ledger performance?” I will tell honestly it’s a No. He simply surpassed it and rewrote The Joker’s book of Spreading Mayhem 101 into How To Raise Hell in Gotham. It’s a completely different role he is portraying because Bane is not The Joker, he is completely sane with a great sense of purpose who believes the destruction of Gotham is his destiny. Bane has no sense of morality, he kills with reckless abandon because he can and when you’re getting in his way unlike The Joker who does it for fun. And Tom Hardy can spread terror through his eyes. He has this overwhelming physical presence matched only by his characters ruthlessness.
The other new characters were great too especially the guys who came from Inception (Hardy, Cotillard, Gordon-Levitt). Anne Hathaway‘s Catwoman fitted in greatly into the Nolanverse as Gotham’s very own femme fatale anti-hero. You also have to keep an eye on Marion Cottilard‘s character because she’s no pushover, she’s there for a really f***in’ good reason. But the film’s wild card surprise comes from the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. He practically kept the characters Commissioner Gordon, Bruce Wayne and even the entire GCPD from falling apart.
Essentially, The Dark Knight Rises is still a classic tale of Good vs Evil only this time in an unprecedented monstrous scale. The fight scenes are really awesome and plenty (yey!), with an epic climax that can rival Lord of the Ring’s in Return of the King. But the massive amount of explosions in the movie completely blow all of my expectations away. I should have aimed higher. There are new cool gadgets including ‘the Bat’ together with the old ones. The script was really grand, complicated and long so there will be a few flaws (that critics will surely exaggerate, those jerks). And Gotham City once again felt and looked different compare to the first two. I noticed that the Wayne Enterprise HQ have different version in each film in the trilogy. See below:
Overall The Dark Knight Rises is worth all the four years waiting. It’s really good to see how the previous two films connected to the third installment. It has been a great and painful journey for Bruce Wayne/Batman from an avenger to a hero, from a tortured young man to a broken old man, and from a symbol of hope to a silent guardian. I just can’t believe Batman is over. This is really the final Batman film under the Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale tandem. But I am very grateful for sending the dark knight into a conclusive and satisfying end. Because the true test of a hero is when the fire threatens and the darkest of nightmares haunts, he must be broken so he can rise up and become the legend.