The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. If you know nothing about this trilogy then the best way to debrief you about this fantastic take on the fictional character is that the films depict what this comic book character would look like in the real world.
Since this was the final chapter in the trilogy, I had my reservations about whether the storytelling of the film would succeed at tying it in with the previous two. Thankfully, one thing I can tell you is that my reservations were completely unfounded and this film is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.
The plot of the film is quite simple. Bane (Tom Hardy) seeks to overthrow the upper class by destroying Gotham with a bomb. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is at the same time plagued with guilt because he knows Batman didn’t kill Harvey Dent. The Dent Act was put in place after the death of Harvey Dent to destroy organized crime but, even though organized crime has been destroyed, it’s been put out of commission based on a lie. Bruce Wayne learns of Bane trying to destroy Gotham and decides he needs to come out of retirement to stop him. Bruce Wayne as Batman fights Bane and loses badly and gets put into a prison inside a pit to recover and watch Gotham burn. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) also wants to destroy the upperclass by stealing one item at a time.
The Dark Knight Rises is very close to being a masterpiece. All of the characters and their storylines make sense. The main thing I like about this final film is that you see more Bruce Wayne than Batman. Bruce has essentially let himself go following the death of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight. It was an absolute joy to see Christian Bale play Bruce Wayne as a vulnerable person. He was completely out of practice of being Batman and watching him retrain himself was fascinating.
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is a revelation. She is seductive without being overly flirtatious and had the physical skills to take down anyone who confronted her.
The real heart of this film is Sir Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred confronts Bruce Wayne about becoming Batman again and there is a real sadness to Alfred because Bruce is like a son to him. Alfred ends up giving this speech to Bruce in an effort to convince him not to become Batman and his speech moved me to tears.
The only negative of this film is that while Bruce Wayne has motivations for being Batman again, the film failed to explore what he really wants for his life. I am not sure whether Bruce is okay with not being Batman. I feel like John Blake (Joseph-Gordon-Levitt) did a better job at being what Batman stands for than Bruce Wayne did.
There’s some thematic subtext in the film that references the occupy Wall Street movement, which is a nice way to tackle Bane’s motivations for destroying Gotham City, but it also hinders us from knowing Bane as a person before his injury. In fact, I think his origin story comes too late into the film’s third act for us to have the correct amount of sympathy for him. Regardless of the fact that Bane lacks humanity, the actions he performed before his injury make him a highly sympathetic villain.
In short, go see this movie as often as possible because it shows that strong characters and a story with a message can make for a very satisfying conclusion to a superhero trilogy.