If you don’t want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW! There will be MAJOR SPOILERS!
I knew this movie would break my heart.
First off, I went into the viewing not expecting much. I was excited about the movie itself but rarely do sequels hold their own. So I figured go in not expecting to be wowed or anything, which would mean I could be pleasantly surprised instead of disappointed.
I wasn’t sure about the movie beginning eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. In Batman Begins, Bruce celebrated his 30th birthday party. If we estimate that the events of The Dark Knight took place about a year later, then he is 39 at the start of The Dark Knight Rises. A pity his superhero career was so short.
Anyway, Harvey Dent Day is being celebrated (can I say how dopey that sounds, especially knowing what we know?) and Jim Gordon looks like he’s going to spill the beans but decides against it for now. We also learn that Bruce Wayne is virtually a recluse and when we first see him, he’s using a cane and looks beaten down.
This looked to me like fanfic! You know, when you visit the kink meme and someone says, “I’d like to see Bruce using a cane and unable to be Batman and it’s about eight years since the events of The Dark Knight.”
Alfred wants Bruce to get out into the world again, but when Bruce starts to consider doing it as Batman, he’s furious. Bruce can’t move on because of Rachel’s death, imagining a life that they would have had together. Alfred finally tells Bruce about Rachel’s note to him saying that she’d chosen Harvey, and that he’d destroyed the note to spare Bruce pain. Bruce can’t forgive this betrayal and they part with both men in tears.
Lucius Fox has been keeping the Bat-tech in a safe place even though Wayne Enterprises has been failing due to Bruce’s neglect and his diversion of all spare cash into R&D. It’s on shaky ground, but Miranda Tate has been helping fund their machine for clean energy, which is still a secret as it could be used as a nuclear reactor in the wrong hands.
Bane’s men are in the sewers of Gotham and are discovered, and Batman goes to take Bane down. He loses, his back broken, and is imprisoned in the underground prison that Bane grew up in. Only Bane escaped as a child, legend goes, and no one else. Bruce is helped by an old man in the prison and heals. He tries to escape but fails twice.
In the meantime, he can see via a satellite TV hook-up that Bane has taken over Gotham. A nuclear bomb is holding the city hostage (part of the clean energy reactor was stolen) and Bane encourages mobs to look the city and to perform kangeroo court trials against the wealthy, who are literally dragged out into the streets. French Revolution, anyone?
I laughed when I saw who was the presiding judge. Good choice! Cillian Murphy (as Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow) now has the distinction of being in all three Nolan Bat films along with the heavy hitters of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman.
Before Bruce was beaten and imprisoned by Bane, he caught Selina stealing his mother’s pearl necklace from the safe. And let me say, Anne Hathaway does a GREAT job as Catwoman! She is kick-ass and on that shady side of the street and there is real chemistry between her and Christian Bale. She is wearing the Julie Newmar-designed costume, too. She’s an able partner for the Batman.
Of course, he can’t trust her completely as she betrays him. But she doesn’t feel good about it. And does she hang out with Holly Robinson? I’m not sure if the woman she rooms with is Holly. I didn’t catch any name.
Rookie police officer John Blake knows that Bruce is Batman (he guessed the truth in a moment of insight when Bruce visited the orphanage that the Wayne Foundation was funding when John was living there) and believes in the Batman.
The movie is full of twists and turns! Remember, MAJOR SPOILERS next:
I KNEW something was fishy about Miranda Tate! What a great twist that she was Talia Al-Ghul and was the child who had escaped the prison, not Bane. Her father and the League of Shadows freed Bane but Ra’s could never accept him as one of the League due to his own guilt about what had happened to Talia’s mother.
For Public Enemies fans, this is a reunion of sorts for Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard (who plays Miranda/Talia), who had a single but powerful scene in that movie. They even have a sex scene in this one! Johnny (Dillinger/Depp) would approve. ;)
I wasn’t sure how they would end this but am happy that it wasn’t a deathfic after all. ;) And John Blake as the new Batman? I like that!
This film was dark but not despairing. The trailers had made it look as if it would be unrelentingly dark. It certainly is no chucklefest but I didn’t feel like slitting my wrists watching this film, either. The music was good, and they used quite a bit from the first two movies. The brokenness of Bruce was well-played by Christian, and the old pros shone. Some of the scenes did break my heart, especially when Bruce and Alfred parted ways and Alfred crying at Bruce’s grave.
Things came full circle with the League of Shadows’ return. I would have liked to have seen Ra’s return, courtesy of the Lazarus Pit, but it was probably too fanciful for Nolanverse.
The film is long at two hours and forty-four minutes but I wasn’t bored. So much was going on and it was nicely paced between action and contemplative scenes. Bruce suffers a great deal in this one but comes out triumphantly in the end.
This Bruce really needed Dick or Clark. Neither one would have let him close himself off from the world for eight years. And his injuries are more erosion as his knee and other joints are without cartilage, most likely from all that ninja stuff! ;) But he’s pretty agile, especially when he rappels down to visit an injured Jim Gordon in Gotham General Hospital.
“We were in this together, and then you were gone.”
“Gotham didn’t need Batman anymore.”
But Jim did.
And Bruce finally reveals who he is to Jim in their final scene together.
EDIT: How could I forget Robin! I squeed when I heard John's name! :) So after all these years of loudly declaring there would be no Robin, Nolan gives us an amalgam of Robins: Dick’s orphan background, though John didn’t lose both his parents at the same time. He didn’t remember his mother’s accident but remembered his father’s murder all too well. He connected with Bruce and while we don’t know if he had a circus background, he did become a police officer like Dick, and figured out Bruce’s identity like Tim. Jason is probably in there, too, with a possible street background for John. And could the new Batman finally get a Robin as that kid from the orphanage he spoke to and who was waiting for Batman to return grows older? Could there be a Batman and Robin in the future? ;)
There still can be Bruce/Jim stories written. They would have to play with canon but it can be done. And the chemistry between Bruce and Selina should please Bat/Cat fans. The way they work together in the scene when Batman goes to confront Bane is sheer poetry in motion! Lots of Bruce/John stories out there. Lots of people 'shipping Batman/Robin! ;)
While I will always love Batman Begins best, I would say this movie was a worthy entry into the Nolanverse trilogy and would recommend it to any Bat or Christian Bale fan.