The Godfather. Star Wars. Lord Of The Rings. X-Men. Spiderman. What do all these trilogies have in common? Great sequels but underwhelming finales. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy ends today, with the highly anticipated release of The Dark Knight Rises. After the huge critical and financial success of The Dark Knight, many fans worried that the only direction for the conclusion to go is downhill. After two viewings we can safely say: not so! From the cast, to the plot, to the musical score, TDKR is a stunning accomplishment.
Let’s start with the cast. Most fans were skeptical (to say the least) about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Ella Enchanted? Well, have no fear fellow geeks, she almost single-handedly stole the entire movie. At the drop of a hat, she transitions from a seemingly innocent damsel in distress to a slick, cunning cat burglar and pulls it off purr-fectly. Her fighting sequences were also just as impressive as her skin-tight catsuit. Rrr…
One of the more controversial aspects leading up to the release was the main villain, Bane. During the 6-minute prologue (released with Mission: Impossible 4 last December), most fans complained that Bane’s voice was muffled by his mask, making him difficult to understand. Fortunately, it had been re-worked in post-production and is not an issue whatsoever. Bane is a menacing, physically imposing, skilled tactician and a formidable foe for Batman. Despite having his face mostly concealed throughout, Tom Hardy’s eyes do a lot of the acting and are instrumental in eliciting a consistently fearful response. In The Dark Knight, the Joker was more about setting traps and outwitting Batman whereas Bane uses his brute force to try and break him.
Heath Ledger won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight and if any one star deserves a nomination this time around, it should be Batman himself, Christian Bale. A spectacular performance from start to finish, Bale has earned the right to be called the definitive live-action Batman. TDKR gave him the most screen time as Bruce Wayne and he ran away with it. Even his growling Batman voice was improved, to the relief of many fans.
A particularly noteworthy performance also came from Michael Caine as Alfred. TDKR delves further into the father-son dynamic with Bruce and provides glimpses into how a father must feel watching his son constantly risk his life against Gotham’s worst.
Hans Zimmer’s musical score was once again brilliant, capturing each character’s tone and sending the viewer on a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride from start to finish.
Without giving away any key plotlines, the only thing that can be said is that the story works all the way through. It is well thought-out and executed flawlessly. There are no wasted lines in the script; although not always immediately apparent, the dialogue either foreshadows an upcoming event or references something from the past. Ranging back to the first installment, Batman Begins, the conclusion of TDKR nicely comes full-circle.
All in all, the movie is an incredible end to one of the most compelling trilogies of all time and definitely worth seeing on IMAX again and again (over an hour of it was filmed using IMAX cameras, the most ever for a big-budget film).
Our verdict: truly epic.