There are two kinds of trilogies: ones that were intended to be from the beginning and ones that were created after the first movie was a (surprise) success. The Lord Of The Rings and The Matrix are good examples of these two different types of trilogies. When you make a complete trilogy from the beginning it’s easier to create a coherent set of movies. You know where you want to go in the third movie when you’re busy creating the first one. The other kind of trilogy fails more often because all of a sudden two new scripts have to be made that follow up on a closed story. For every Star Wars trilogy (the original!) there are at least three Matrix trilogies. Luckily Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy ends up being this generation’s Star Wars trilogy, sadly that also means they didn’t save the best for last.
The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight”. Gotham is at peace and organized crime has been taken out due to the Dent act; created after Harvey’s death in the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is living a secluded life in one of the wings of the now rebuilt Wayne Mansion and walks with a cane. When terrorist Bane comes to Gotham, the city faces its greatest challenge yet and Batman has to come out of retirement to face an opponent who’s both physically and mentally his match.
The Dark Knight Rises has the almost impossible task to be as good or even better than the previous “The Dark Knight”, a movie that built upon the origin story of “Batman Begins” and gave the audience a memorable villain in an epic story full of twists and turns. Bane is very different from the previous villains of whom only Ra’s Al Ghul was a physical match for Bruce Wayne. Bane is a towering hulk of a man, trained in the same way as Bruce Wayne and wears a scary mask of which the function is explained in the movie later on. This mask is also the character’s greatest restraint as it gives Hardy only his eyes to use to communicate with the audience. That wouldn’t be a real problem if we saw his facial muscles move when he talks, but that is not the case here. To top it all off the voice has been filtered too much in post production creating a sound that really seems to be added after the movie was filmed. Whether Bane has a hood over his head or not, the voice is always the same volume… it never convinces me that this voice is actually on set; as if I’m watching a dubbed foreign film. Characters with masks on are always tricky. Hugo Weaving’s V in V for Vendetta and James Earl Jones’ Darth Vader pulled it off, but the Power Rangers and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin did not. I can add Bane to the latter list.
A character that does completely work is Selena Kyle, better known as Catwoman though never addressed that way here. Doesn’t matter though because the character is grounded in realism and played with fun by Anne Hathaway. As always her loyalties lie with herself making her switch sides depending on the situation. One minute she’s leading Batman into a trap, another she’s saving his life.
As with every Nolan Batman movie the scheme by the villains are fairly grounded in realism, but still far fetched and not completely realistic. Compared to schemes with toxic smiling gas, penguins with rockets attached to their backs and a guy trying to create a new ice age, the scenarios in The Dark Knight trilogy do make much more sense. But where only after watching The Dark Knight I started pondering about how The Joker’s plans all were based upon a lot of coincidences, questions about the plot rose to me while watching The Dark Knight Rises. Bane has taken Gotham City hostage by bringing a nuclear bomb in and threatening to explode it if anybody tries to enter the city or leave it this situation takes up to about a month or five. I can hardly comprehend the United States government not being able to do something for five months. The opening scene also had me scratching my head asking myself why Bane would hijack a plane including a blood transfusion in mid air. Because it looks cool of course.
Despite the somewhat shaky plot the entire script once again does feel epic. Since it was made clear this would be the last movie and it would bring the story full circle it really had a nail biting finale. All the main characters we have got to learn and love over the course of these films are fair game. Gordon, Fox, Alfred and even Batman himself, the movie produces a feeling their lives could end at any moment. The Dark Knight Rises really creates a complete trilogy connecting all three movies together. Events from both movies resonate here. Both Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul have small cameos and Harvey Dent is seen in flash backs. Only the Joker is never mentioned or heard from, a choice made because of Heath Ledger’s death, but it does feel weird that a character responsible for so many events in the previous movie including the physical en mentally scarring of Harvey Dent is never mentioned, not even in Gordon’s testimony about the true events that happened.
In conclusion The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t surpass The Dark Knight but how could it? Batman Begins took us by surprise and The Dark Knight took a turn in terms of story by creating basically a gangster movie with multiple story lines giving it an epic feel. The hype for The Dark Knight Rises was so great it was bound to not living up to it, but it still is a very good entertaining movie and I think that this is one of the greatest trilogies ever made. All the movies are very good and even as the doomed third movie The Dark Knight Rises still holds up pretty well. It’s a movie I expected to be five stars, yet it turns out to be a “only” a four star movie.