Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises is the final 'big' film of the summer. Avengers started the summer with a bang, Spidey slinged through the middle, and Batman ended it with 'hope.' This film marks the final film in the trilogy, there's been a lot of hype in the past months. The Dark Knight will forever be known as a game-changer for the genre, Rises isn't quite as good, but still a fine way to end the trilogy. You will leave the theater having hope inside, which I believe was the purpose.
Check out the official description from Warner Bros. (Skip to the last paragraph if you don't want to know anything about the film.)
Christopher Nolan returns to complete the Gotham trilogy that launched with “Batman Begins” and reached the stratosphere with the billion dollar blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” “Inception” stars Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt join the cast regulars along with Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Tom Hardy as the powerful villain Bane. Christian Bale prowls the night as the Caped Crusader, fighting crime and corruption with the help of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman.Set eight years after The Dark Knight, we're introduced to a retired Bruce Wayne who has pretty much given up on everything. This film seems to be adapting aspects of Knightfall amd The Dark Knight Returns. What this film does is give the viewer 'hope.' We see Bruce Wayne getting back into the suit, then getting crippled, then 'rising.' I would have rather they'd not time-skipped and adapted Knightfall more. So with that said, one of the big things was whether Bane was going to 'break the Bat.' Well, it does happen and the whole scene was pretty intense. I think the scene with him actually breaking Batman's back should have been more focused on, it happened a little too quickly. But the fight leading up to it was intense and maybe the best scene in the film other than the great ending.
Christian Bale once again is a good Bruce Wayne/Batman. He played the whole 'retire from the outside world' thing well. You really do feel for him when he's getting beaten down by Bane. For the first time, he was on the complete losing side in a one-on-one battle, we get to seem him struggle and then 'broken.' It was interesting to see Batman lose completely. However, the true highlight is Tom Hardy as Bane. With his Darth Vader-like mask breathing, he proved to be a great villain. In fact, I think he deserves the villain of the year award. (Yup, over Loki) Such an amazing script. Of course pretty much nothing can match Heath Ledger's Joker, but Hardy as Bane was a good runner-up villain. That's why I was disappointed at how anti-climatic his death was. He was the antagonist for awhile, his death was unfulfilled and deserved better. Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle/Catwoman was pretty much a slightly bad version of Black Widow from Avengers, which is a good thing of course. Some of her scenes with her 'helping' Batman are somethings that would happen straight from the comics. It was a mystery of who exactly Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character John Blake would be. Gotta say this guy was established rather well, and by the end, you'll be left happy of what happens. I was honestly surprised that Alfred left, I don't quite buy that. I don't think he would actually do that in the comics. The same thing almost happened in an episode of The Batman, but was done much better since he decided not to leave and support Bruce even though he didn't approve. Other characters...Commissioner Gordon is as good as always, lifted straight from the comics. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, well, he's Morgan Freeman, enough said. Marion Cotillard is Miranda Tate, who happens (spoiler) to be Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. She was pretty good and deceptive. I should have known from the beginning, but ended up being surprised, so the film succeeds in doing that.
The soundtrack is very good, often emotional, and fits the movie well. Batman's theme was fantastic once again. Some silent scenes with music playing was a nice touch. Now, a few things...Bane's signature venom toxin was nowhere to be found. It's a major part of his character, it's always been a big plot point in the comics. And Catwoman...she could have been replaced with a made up character and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Other than the term 'cat-burglar,' there's no indication that she has a cat persona. Would it have been hard to incorporate more of a cat-like costume or show an apartment full of felines? I think Nolan deviates from the comics a little too much in favor of ultra realism. That isn't such a bad thing, but when major parts of characters are taken away, it becomes less and less a comic book adaption. I did like the whole rope in the hole, it was a great analogy. If you have a rope to save you, you won't try your very best. Good stuff. Then the whole scene with Gotham's evil vs. the police was intense, really heart-pumping stuff.
Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a great film and fitting end to the trilogy. Bane was a fantastic antagonist and using the whole 'Batman is broken' plot from the comics was a really good idea. Catwoman wasn't bad, she just was lacking the cat part. Great script, some really good fights, (which The Dark Knight lacked) and a fantastic closure. The legacy lives on. Of course, now I'm ready for a Batman film series to embrace the comic book feel that Nolan's films didn't.