The third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy picks up eight years after The Dark Knight. Since then, Gotham has adopted Harvey Dent as their hero, keeping hundreds of thugs and mob men locked up under an act named for him, and the Batman hasn’t been seen since Dent was killed, taking all the blame. Only Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) knows the truth about Dent and Batman’s innocence, but since this lie has helped make Gotham peaceful, he keeps the real story for another day. The whole city is unaware that a storm is brewing, led by a man more evil and powerful than Gotham has ever encountered, Bane (Tom Hardy). Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) first gets wind of this from a thief putting her allegiance in the wrong hands, just looking for a clean slate, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). Bruce knows he must bring the Batman back to protect Gotham from this new rising terrorist, even though Gotham believes he is an enemy.
Throughout the film, there is the idea of pain, both physical and emotional. There is Bane, his mask sending him a constant surge of morphine. For a while, Gordon is in the hospital and we are told of his broken family. We see Bruce limp, struggle to fix his leg and later physically build himself again. Alfred tries to spare him pain by hiding the truth about Rachel. And Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Bruce understand each other from their experiences growing up as orphans.
Then there is the idea of class warfare. In all three films there has been a large gap between Gotham’s elite and the lowest of the low. The fact that Wayne Enterprises has stopped funding an orphanage does not help. Bane exposes this flaw and lets Gotham’s prisoners take control of the city, while trapping all the police underground. Suddenly, the wealthy are thrown onto the streets while thugs crash in their homes. And Bane begins this madness at a football game, destroying the stadium and a private box area in front of a full crowd. I doubt tickets to a Gotham Rogues game are cheap.
Then there is the idea that one man’s tools can become another man’s weapon. It is hard not to be sickened by the stark reality of this after the shooting during this film in Colorado. Anyone familiar with Batman comics knows that only villains use guns and Batman seldom kills. His tools are designed only for him by Fox (Morgan Freeman) and hidden from falling into anyone else’s hands. But Bane breaks in and starts using the tank-like batmobiles to roam and threaten the city. Worse, Wayne Enterprises has secretly developed a fusion based sustainable energy source, but in the wrong hands, it has been turned into an atom bomb capable of destroying all of Gotham.
I believe The Dark Knight Rises was the best film of the summer. How that will hold up come Oscar season is always questionable. Nolan’s last summer smash, Inception, was a Best Picture nominee. There is also more favor toward the finishing film of a trilogy with the Academy (LOTR:ROTK cleaned house) and TDKR finishes this franchise in a strong fashion. Considering how there have been 10 nominees for the past three years now, I would not completely count TDKR out of the running, but I do consider it a long shot However, I’m sure some sound and visual effect nominations are in store. And did anyone else feel especially moved by Michael Caine’s Alfred this time around? I know the field is thick, but I hope I’m not the only one looking for a supporting nomination there.
“Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”