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Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes to triumphant end

Dylan Dobson, 4Play Editor
December 4, 2012
Filed under 4Play

Despite the tragic shooting during its release, “The Dark Knight Rises” has proven to be a successful film for Warner Bros. The film, which grossed $448 million domestically and $603 million internationally, is the second most successful film of 2012.

“The Dark Knight Rises” also represents the finale to director Christopher Nolan’s visionary trilogy of films that reinvented the caped crusader. Nolan has never been one to settle for mediocrity. Critics have long applauded his innovative mindset which he displayed via his revolutionary films “Memento” and “Inception.”

Nolan brings this mindset to his Batman trilogy as well. Whereas most superhero film series follow a similar formula, Nolan shook things up by putting a different genre spin on each of his Batman films. While “Batman Begins” was Nolan’s take on the stereotypical superhero origin story, “The Dark Knight” was, above all, a crime film. “The Dark Knight Rises” similarly follows the tropes of a disaster movie, and at times plays out like a Gotham-themed version of the 1981 film “Escape from New York.”

The film, which is based on the classic Batman comic book sagas of “Batman: Knightfall,” and “Batman: No Man’s Land,” finds Bruce Wayne a broken man. After his love interest, Rachel Dawes, was killed in “The Dark Knight,” Bruce Wayne gave up his cape and cowl and sunk into the shadows. His work as Batman has severely damaged his body as well, and he struggles with everyday tasks.

Wayne is forced to take up the Batman mantle once more, however, when the terrorist Bane threatens to destroy Gotham using a nuclear device owned by Wayne’s own company. To make matters worse, there’s a villain lurking within the context of Wayne’s personal life as well in the form of Selina Kyle, who comic aficionados will recognize as Catwoman, here played by the appropriately slinky Anne Hathaway.

Nolan has brought together an amazing cast. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne along with other series mainstays Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Sir Michael Caine. This quartet of actors has long been the backbone to Nolan’s trilogy – the emotional nucleus at the heart of its nuclear payload. “The Dark Knight Rises” gives each ample screen time.

Hathaway joins the cast along with the always charming Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy as Bane. Drawing from his experience as a prison inmate-turned-fighter in last year’s “Bronson,” Hardy’s iconic portrayal of Bane is powerful and dominating. Though audiences attending early screenings of the film had problems discerning Hardy’s lines through the thick accent he employs, as well as the mask Bane wears throughout the film, he’s discernible in the final edit.

Bane proves a formidable foe for Batman, leaving him further broken physically, emotionally and financially in a prison while Gotham is cannibalized by criminals and the poor. The U.S. military shuts the city off from the world and leaves it to the fate of the nuclear device Bane has acquired.

One addition to the cast that has proven controversial is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie cop John Blake. John Blake doesn’t exist in the comic series, and seems little more than a stereotypical cop on the edge character.

Despite his general unimportance to the Batman universe and the overall story, Blake’s character arc takes up a large portion of the film’s runtime. However, a recent rumor publicized by entertainment website Hitflix of Gordon-Levitt’s inclusion in the upcoming “Justice League” film may warrant this copious screen time.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is a rather lengthy film, with many characters vying for importance. It also features many subplots, several of which aren’t developed as well as they could be. This is one of the film’s few shortcomings. Overall, it’s action-packed and serves as an excellent and satisfying conclusion to Wayne’s story.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD.