The Dark Knight Rises might very well be one of the most anticipated movies of 2012. The final film of the Christopher Nolan directed trilogy has a lot to live up to in the way of both hype and serving as the follow-up to the near-perfect The Dark Knight. Christian Bale reprises his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne as does Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox). The familiarity of each bring a calming sense of normalcy to a film that attempts to outdo itself to the extremity in which previous villains Scarecrow and the Joker have failed to accomplish – arguably.
Bane (Tom Hardy) is the villain in this film and is the first physical threat for Batman in this trilogy. Where the previous two films relied more on the psychological, Bane values a more physical approach and is a very hands-on villain, having connections to the same past as Bruce Wayne. Therefore, there are more fight scenes in this film although they feel minimal considering how outrageous and extensive some of the plots have been.
Bane himself is, in some ways, the most menacing villain Gotham City has ever faced. He has a very commanding and frightening presence both when he appears on screen and when he speaks. His face is covered by a life-sustaining mask that extends his appearance beyond that of just a man to something more threatening while his voice, oddly filtered, is almost childlike in some ways and is presented louder which gives it a very chilling non-human quality.
In addition to Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on board as policeman John Blake who makes his own connection to the bat-man. Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who makes her first appearance in this series. Initially, I thought her to be an odd choice to play such a character in such a movie, having had limited her roles to that of romantic-comedies or chick-flicks. Her natural ability to flirt with the screen and appear at just the right time with just the right line made her the perfect fit after all. She took a character that would otherwise have blended in behind the main storyline and kept her in the centre of it, despite not having as much screen time as others do.
The Dark Knight Rises keeps the overall heavy mood that much of the other two films had although it doesn’t feel as threatening as a whole, especially when compared to The Dark Knight. Only a few scenes attempt to expand from the periphery of the main characters and include the citizens of Gotham, mainly at the football game, which could have rivalled the intensity of several scenes from TDK had it not been so isolated. The main thing that separates this film is that it doesn’t feel as close to home or as realistic because we aren’t given enough of a perspective from an ordinary citizen unless they are involved with John Blake or Selina Kyle.
The finale to the series delivers as promised although the plot isn’t quite as in depth as either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, perhaps due to the mode of delivery by this film’s antagonist. More of a focus is placed, instead, on providing a gritty film that extensively pushes Bruce Wayne beyond his physical abilities. There are aspects of the storyline that feel out of place when taking into account where this series has started. The emphasis is placed on the surface presentation that sometimes seems to relegate the plot downward which may leave a slight taste of disappointment near the end but when asked the inevitable question, the answer will inevitably be: The Dark Knight > The Dark Knight Rises.
The most disappointment comes when, at the perfect opportunity for a witty one-liner, instead comes the line “No. I’ve come back to stop you.”