A Grand Finale: A Review of The Dark Knight Rises
Historically, the third installment of a comic book inspired movie series falls agonizingly short. Superman III, Batman Forever, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Spider-Man 3 all momentously paled in comparison to the previous movies in their respective series. Fans of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have had these previous comic book film series creeping in the back of their heads for the past four years. Nolanites and Batman fans can rest assured, The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy installment, and finale, to the current Batman film series. Christopher Nolan, with a few minor hiccups, concludes his epic Batman trilogy by delving, once again, into popular Batman tales while adding his own unique additions.
The Dark Knight Rises is the longest of the Nolan Batman films, clocking in at fifteen minutes shy of three hours. However, the characters, plot, visuals, and score leave the viewer wanting an additional three hours.
All of the returning cast members are up to par for their usual performances. Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), and Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon) return to their usual level of performance. Newcomers Tom Hardy (Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), Ann Hathaway (Selina Kyle), and Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate) all bring their A games to the table. In addition, two additional previous characters have short cameos in Nolan’s new Batman film, Cillian Murphy’s cameo is particularly enjoyable.
The plot, which centers on the plan to destroy Gotham by Bane and his associates as well as Batman’s return to action, is very well thought out and highly entertaining. The Dark Knight Rises’ main plot problem, which is the only real issue with the film overall, is predictability. Two revelations towards the end of the film can be discerned in the first half of the picture. Furthermore, The Dark Knight Rises is a bit more action oriented and fantastical than the previous two installments. This is a plus for some viewers, while others might prefer the more in-depth character development seen with Batman in Batman Begins or with the Joker in The Dark Knight. Though, the character development of Batman and Selina Kyle are both very well done.
The cinematography and music constitute the final ingredients that make The Dark Knight Rises a gratifying experience. The visuals, especially the IMAX shots, are astounding. Nolan made the right decision by forgoing 3D for seventy-two minutes worth of 70 mm IMAX shots. In fact, The Dark Knight Rises should be viewed at least once on a true IMAX screen. In the Las Vegas area, the Brenden Theaters at the Palms Hotel and Casino is the best place to view the IMAX cut of The Dark Knight Rises. Hans Zimmer’s music is as impressive as it was in the previous two installments, adding an epic yet dark and gritty feel to the movie.
The Dark Knight Rises succeeds where other comic book movie series have failed. The Dark Knight Rises finally gives comic book movie fans something they have always wanted, a phenomenal third film in a comic book movie series.
The inspirations for The Dark Knight Rises were many. As with his previous two Batman films, Christopher Nolan, with his co-writers Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer, draws from many different source materials. The film primarily draws from Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns, the action packed Knightfall story arc, and the No Man’s Land event that crossed over in all the Bat family comic books. Also, the film draws from the “Vengeance of Bane” one shot and the “Bane and the Demon” four issue mini-series. The film draws a few minor aspects from other stories as well. The most memorable is the, “So, that’s what that feels like” line Batman utters after Selina Kyle disappears while his back is turned. That line is taken from the outstanding Mark Waid and Alex Ross epic Kingdom Come. Though it was spoken in regard to Superman in the book, the line was a welcome addition and easter egg for comic book readers in the film. It is fairly obvious that the writers of The Dark Knight Rises researched the source material well and blended key Batman storylines, with their own creative additions, and scenes to make a highly entertaining film.
At the end of the day, The Dark Knight Rises is bittersweet. Once again, the viewing public is treated to an outstanding Batman film. However, the moviegoer leaves theater realizing that this is the last ride with Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, etc… Warner Brothers is already letting rumors fly of a Batman reboot in two years, in order to have a Batman that fits better with the greater DC universe, and will no doubt be a part of the Justice League movie. Another Batman movie series will be hard pressed to live up to the standard set by Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises. These movies redefined what a superhero movie could be and certainly constitute the best comic book inspired trilogy of all time.
Mr. Z’s Verdict
Recommended Reading for Those Who Enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley
An outstanding read which delves deep into the Batman mythos. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is available in trade paperback and in a hardcover Absolute edition. One of the best Batman scripts ever written.
Mr. Z’s Verdict
Batman: Knightfall by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, et al.
The series contains multiple volumes. Currently, Volumes 1 and 2 are out in new editions. However older editions are not difficult to find at Cosmic Comics. This arc details the breaking of the Batman by Bane, the replacement Batman, and the return of the one true Batman.
Mr. Z’s Verdict
Batman No Man’s Land by Greg Ruck, et al.
This series also contains multiple volumes. The current printing run has volumes 1 and 2 out in stores. Volumes 3 and 4 are supposed to follow this year. The new printing of Volume 3 should be out within the next few weeks. The story details the events after the massive earthquake in the Batman: Cataclysm storyline, which is a good read in itself. As with Knightfall, though all volumes of the current print are yet to be released, older printings can be found at Cosmic Comics.
Mr. Z’s Verdict
Batman Versus Bane by Chuck Dixon, Brian Stelfreeze, and Graham Nolan
This trade paperback collects the first appearance of Bane; a one shot entitled “Vengeance of Bane.” The trade also contains “Bane and the Demon’ a four issue mini-series in which Bane crosses paths with the Al Ghul family.
Mr. Z’s Verdict
Mr.Z is Lawrence S. Zuiderweg, M.Ed.