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Review: Dark Knight Rises

(Spoiler free!)

It’s been on the radar of movie-goers for more than two years now - the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise.  There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the latest will indeed be the greatest, especially in light of Heath Ledger’s performance as the fan-favorite Joker in The Dark Knight.  Comparisons will undoubtedly be made and opinions will differ on the subject, but for me, the Dark Knight Rises lives up to all the hype.

I just saw it the other day and feel the need to give a review, but at the same time I’d like to make it as spoiler free as possible.  For that reason, I’ll be talking more about the structure of the film and leaving out individual events.  Hopefully, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the film without feeling that something crucial has been revealed and the movie ruined for you.

First and foremost, when you go to see the Dark Knight Rises, expect to take the film in as a whole.  This is not a montage of Batman running around kicking people though windows and showing off all his nifty bat-toys.  Nolan follows the experiences of several different characters as the story unfolds and Batman is not always on-screen.  He does maintain the lead, of course, but there is plenty more going on than just Batman’s quest to defeat Bane.

On that note, I feel that Nolan does this for a very specific purpose.  On one level, Dark Knight Rises is a story about a hero becoming strong enough to defeat his worst nemesis yet.  On the other hand, it’s about the symbolic nature of Batman and not just the accomplishments of Bruce Wayne as he wears the mask.  The nature of being a hero and what it means is explored, and for this reason Nolan takes us on a ride through the personalities of many people.  Batman, Catwoman, Bane and even Tim Drake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) all have their perspectives to lend to what’s happening, and each perspective is unique to itself and connected to the others.

The Dark Knight Rises is a much more emotionally charged film than the two previous flicks.  As with any trilogy, the first sets up the characters, the second explores their personalities and the third pits them against something that is seemingly undefeatable, resolving their journey.  Nolan does this perfectly.  As I awaited my turn to enter into the theater and see my own 6:30 show, I watched the faces of those coming out of the previous viewing.  I had to wonder why people looked so serious when they came out.  After seeing the film, I know now.  The Dark Knight Rises left me thinking deeply about all it had to say for the rest of the night and I still have bits and pieces of it running though my head.

And one final note for fanboys who feel that Batman needs to adhere to one paradigm - this is Nolan’s Batman.  As the final credits role, you’ll know that this is a story that could not have been told in the comic-book world of DC’s Dark Knight.  It is a unique progression and a spectacular end that is a stand-alone trilogy that just happens to incorporate one of the most popular super heroes ever.  It is not the action-blasting film that Avengers was.  It is a deeper and more psychological movie with a lot to say. 

Be prepared to stay aware while you watch Dark Knight Rises.  Me, I’m going again this week, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  At first glance, I’d say it’s the best super hero film I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, but I’ll need to see it at least once more just to make sure I wasn’t consumed by the hype and refuse to see the flaws.  But for right now, it has almost none.