I had high hopes. Let’s be honest, The Dark Knight was a huge success, some say even better than the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Batman Begins. So, naturally, I was expecting something equal to or greater than Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done, that it wouldn’t be done. I didn’t know what to think. I hadn’t done much research on who would be the new super-villain in Nolan’s last installment, but I’d heard a few rumors. I even heard once that Phillip Seymour Hoffman might play the penguin.
He wasn’t in the film. Not even a little bit. I actually forgot to look for him as I was engaged immediately in the initial scenes with the new antagonist, Bane (Tom Hardy, Inception), escaping a crashing plane with a hostage.
It’s been eight years since Bruce Wayne has left his mansion, as himself or as Batman. After taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s death and accepting the blame and hate of all of Gotham, Batman and his secret identity went into exile. The film begins at a celebration of Harvey Dent Day at Wayne Manor. A lowly maid is shown taking a tray of food up to Bruce Wayne’s room and suddenly you realize it’s Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada) and you know something is up. She then bests Bruce Wayne by breaking into his vault and stealing both a pearl necklace and his fingerprints.
Catwoman, as we learn is her identity, earned her reputation as the best jewelry thief around. Not only that, she kicks a whole lot of ass.
With Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints, Bane and his cohorts steal his identity and double down all his money on a stock they know will fail, resulting in a bankruptcy of Wayne Enterprises. Bane is wreaking havoc on all of Gotham, from his underground layer in the sewers, and a single bold cop approaches the Wayne manor. Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt, Inception), who knows of Batman’s identity somehow, speaks eloquently about his days in the orphanage and wishfully for the future of Gotham. Blake pleads for Batman’s return, and well, he gets it.
Cueing the entrance of our favorite character, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman, Se7en), Bruce Wayne enters the Applied Sciences Department of Wayne Enterprises for the first time in eight years and takes on yet another vehicle only appropriate to Batman standards, this time keeping to the skies.
Investing in a fusion reactor, the possibility of unlimited sustainable energy, Bruce turns over his entire business to one Miranda Tate, a woman with a mysterious past but a fortune and an eye for Bruce. But nothing is what it seems in Gotham City.
The fusion reactor, though it has the potential for sustainable energy, has a much easier potential to be made into a nuclear bomb capable of destroying the entire city. This is Bane’s primary objective. And Bane is Batman’s.
I said that I had high hopes for this movie. I was worried that the final Batman film wouldn’t hold up to its predecessors, but it has. Tom Hardy’s performance is very impressive on an incredibly different scale than Heath Ledger’s as the Joker. This film digs deeper into the character of Bruce Wayne and his past as well as his future.
If you’ve seen the first two Batman movies, then I’d be surprised if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet. If you haven’t seen the prequels, then you have Friday night and Saturday morning to watch two fantastic movies and will be able to spend Saturday night witnessing the climactic culmination of the Batman trilogy, and you will not be disappointed. I bestow five out of five stars to this film.