Here are my thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises
I had tickets booked to see the movie on Friday evening. Unfortunately on Friday morning I managed to inadvertently read major spoilers about the end of the movie. I was feeling a bit annoyed about that until I heard the news about what happened in Denver which sort of put things in perspective. In any case it’s a testament to how good the movie is that I enjoyed it immensely, even with the knowledge of what was going to happen.
Christian Bale remains as solid as ever in the role of Bruce Wayne. The movie starts with Wayne behaving in a reclusive fashion, not unlike Howard Hughes. Batman hasn’t been seen in eight years since he supposedly killed Harvey Dent. In fact Gotham celebrates Harvey Dent day every year and has a Dent Act that allowed criminals to be locked up. But Commissioner Gordon is conflicted about the lie and wants to tell the truth.
Throughout this movie there are flashbacks to moments from the other two movies. This links everything together very nicely and makes the series feel like a genuine trilogy.
At the start of the movie we are introduced to Selina Kyle’s cat burger played by Anne Hathaway, who I have to say was just a little bit outstanding.
Michael Caine is as ever excellent as Alfred and does some Oscar-worthy work as he pleads with Bruce to leave Gotham and the Batman and lead a normal life. Unfortunately he leaves the movie halfway through and is greatly missed.
Gordon Levitt Gordon (as I call him, he’s actually Joseph Gordon-Levitt… Probably) is introduced as cop John Blake. He gets a lot to do and is almost as big a character in this movie as Bruce Wayne. He’s excellent. I’m very happy to see Inception alumni appear in the movie. Marion Cotilard also turns up playing what becomes an important role. No Ellen Page though.
This is a movie of two halves. The first half feels a little like The Dark Kinght Returns graphic novel from the 1980s. Batman has been away for years and for some residents has become a bit of a myth. Did he ever really exist, they wonder. And if he did exist does Gotham even need him any more? Eventually Wayne is forced to wear the mask again.
The second half however spins off into something very different, the less spoiled the better. But it’s fair to say we see very little of Wayne as Batman in the movie.
Tom Hardy is introduced at the start of the movie in a stunning airborne sequence as Bane, the new leader of the League ofShadows. He’s come to Gotham to finish what Ra’s al Ghul tried to do in the first movie. I don’t think its too much of a spoiler to say that there are references to the 1990s Knightfall story where Bane breaks Batman’s back. Bruce Wayne is then imprisoned in a pit and must metaphorically and physically ‘rise’ if he is to escape and return to Gotham and save the city. This all nicely links back to the very start of Batman Begins when young Bruce falls into the well. “Why do we fall?” says his father. “So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” The line has been repeated a lot in the movies but worth repeating here as its the central motif of this movie.
It was enjoyable to see little cameos from Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy. There was a noticeable little ripple of ‘is that him?’ in the cinema when Murphy appeared as Crane.
There’s a very effective plot twist towards the end of the movie that recalls a similar surprise in the first movie when the true identity of Ra’s al Ghul was revealed.
And the movie is definitely an ending. Any new Batman movies will be a reboot or will have to take place in a different continuity. And it’s very hard to see how they can even begin to compete with this trilogy.