Hi, Bryan Here…..
Christopher Nolan’s third and final installment of his Batman franchise ranks as the best film in the series. That’s difficult for me to say, as the first two films were so amazing. Even with Heath Ledger’s iconic and eternal role as the Joker in the previous film, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ far surpasses anything my imagination could have hoped for in film. Movies do not get better than ’The Dark Knight Rises’.
The threats of terrorism, war, chaos, and financial ruin are all too real these days. ’The Dark Knight Rises’ dives into these issues on a massive scale, which makes any film in the Marvel universe look like mere “child’s play” (no reference to a knife-wielding murderous doll). Compared with the other Batman movies, everything is bigger in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and there is so much more at stake. Not one second of this film is wasted, the writing and direction is straight to the point, cohesive, and comes across as totally fulfilling in its 164 minute run-time.
I’m sure you have all seen the trailers for ’The Dark Knight Rises’ and know that our new villain is Bane (Tom Hardy). We meet Bane in the first scene of the film in a scene that competes with the most thrilling of espionage movie to date. Bane is a colossus of a man whose nose and mouth are covered by a device that keeps him alive. His voice is altered to a low menacing voice much like Darth Vader. And because you can’t see Bane’s mouth or nose, Hardy powerfully relies on body language to deliver his character.
Quickly, we see that Bane is vicious and well-connected as he forms his army. He is smarter than everyone, including Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), which is part of the reason that he is Batman’s most formidable adversary to date. So much so that it is difficult to see that one ordinary man in a cape and cowl that doesn’t use guns can take down Bane and his army. It may seem impossible at first, but Christopher Nolan seamlessly weaves hope back into the story line, revealing that one man can change the world, despite all odds.
The last Batman film came out four years ago, but ’The Dark Knight Rises’ takes place eight years after the last film. Now, Batman is a public enemy, having been blamed for Harvey Dent’s death from the previous film. Furthermore, because of new Gotham City laws, almost all the organized crime has been eliminated in Gotham, and Batman has become much worse than a public enemy. He’s become irrelevant. As Bruce Wayne, he is no longer the millionaire playboy. Instead, he lives as a recluse in his penthouse apartment, and because of a previous injury, he needs a cane to walk. His loyal butler Alfred (Michael Caine) urges his employer and friend to pull himself from his depression. Alfred even prophetically tells Wayne, “…you’re just waiting for things to get bad again.” And it does get bad. Very bad.
Bane and his army attack the Stock Exchange to bring Batman out of hiding. Bane also finds a way to deplete all of Bruce Wayne’s money and ownership interests in Wayne Enterprise. With his identity as Bruce Wayne fully diminished, we see that all that is left is Batman. When Bane and Batman first face off we immediately see that Batman is no match for Bane. Bane is much stronger, quicker, and more vicious than Batman. Bane informs Batman after their fight that his punishment will be much more severe than death and transports Batman to a literal 500-foot hell-hole of a prison, where we assume Bane previously resided.
While Bane and Batman are at the prison, Bane’s army has trapped 98% of Gotham’s police officers underground and has blown every bridge on the island, so that nobody can escape. Bane’s ever-growing army has set out to take random people before a judge or “the people’s court” for a speedy trial that only ends in death. The judge presiding over each case is someone you might recognize. Nobody is safe in Gotham anymore, even a few of your favorite characters have been captured.
One of the best new characters in the film is a smart street cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who grew up in one the Wayne Foundation’s orphanages. While Batman is off in the prison and when Commissioner Gordon is captured, John Blake is the go-to-guy on the now violent streets of Gotham.
This is not a sweet film. Nolan crossed into very dark territory here. Tons of lives are lost, and Batman is outsmarted at every turn. There is not one aspect of cheesiness to this film. Every character and every scene adds more suspense and an imminent feeling of world-wide doom. We all know that this is the last Batman film for a good while– at least done by Bale and Nolan. So anything goes and no characters are safe from impending death.
But the fact that most of this epic $250 million dollar project has been spent making the action sequences look very realistic and not cartoony in any way makes this film flawless. The new vehicles and jets that Batman uses are incredible and ultra-realistic. You’ll find yourself on the verge of tears of joy and screaming ‘Yes’, or clapping loudly when you see Batman in the full costume using his gadgets and vehicles. They spared no expense on the explosions, floods, guns, and vehicles. It’s unbelievable.
This is the best acting Bale has done in the series. He’s an emotional wreck throughout the film, and movie-goers really feel for him. His past brings so much pain in this final act that you can’t help but root for him even more. And when his voice deepens as he wears the cape, it seems less fake, and more of a transformation of what he is going through. Caine made me cry in this film on more than one occasion. His emotional scenes were done perfectly.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) also plays an important roll in this movie. She has her own agenda in Gotham and once she meets Bruce Wayne and suspects who he is, she struggles with her allegiances and identity, as she tries to figure out whether she wants to be (or even can be) a better person. Although her deep moral struggle and strength of character was evident in the comic books, it has been missing from the previous film-depictions of Catwoman. Finally, we get Catwoman the way she was meant to be portrayed. Hathaway just knocks the Catwoman character out of the park. I didn’t think she was the perfect fit for the role, but did she prove me wrong. She is sly and deceitful, yet she is very likable and very complex. She also can kick any thug’s ass and it be believable. She was hardcore.
I highly applaud Nolan for sticking to his guns and making a film the way it should be made. As it states in the credits, “This motion picture was shot and finished on film.” That means, nothing was filmed on a digital camera, which is pretty cool.
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is one of the better films I have had the pleasure to see. And I can safely say that Nolan’s Batman trilogy might be the best trilogy ever to come out. Each film is masterfully crafted to this final act. ’The Dark Knight Rises’ could compete with any film in any genre and could come out as the best. I don’t think I’ll watch any film in the near future that will be as good as ’The Dark Knight Rises’.
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ comes with an amazing 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio, while every now and then switching to 2.40:1 for the IMAX presentation. Although this looks unbelievable on blu-ray, it has been the talk of some controversy. That controversy was that of Warner Bros. using the IMAX master print with the 35mm print, which does not bode well for a flawless transfer. In most cases this would cause the image to have some major edge enhancement, crushed black levels, and banding. These things are NOT good for any HD video. However, that being said, all is well with this blu-ray release. You can rest easy. The colors are great, however, this being Batman, it uses gloomy and vague colors such as grays and lots of muted blues. The flesh tones are natural for the most part and might even be on the bright side to contrast with the vague and moody colors. The detail is impeccable and very sharp. You can make out every little flaw on the actors and every scratch on the Bat vehicles. There is a very small amount of some banding, but no aliasing and no real edge enhancement that distracts. The blacks for the most part run deep and inky but some are crushed, but this never is disappointing as i viewed it. Overall, this is a very impressive and amazing video presentation.
This disc comes with a very powerful and flawless lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. This audio track will rattle the walls, shake the heavens, and make your neighbors come over to see what’s going on. It’s truly demo worthy. The dialogue is always crystal clear and very easy to understand. Yes, even Bane’s voice is easy to understand here. I knew they did some last minute work on his voice before the film was released in the theater and it worked, but on this blu-ray release, his voice is incredible. It is centered on all of the fronts and comes across very sinister, scary, and powerful. The sound effects of the gunfire, explosions, vehicles, and other big action sequences pack a giant punch and will make your speaker system have an aggressive workout. The directionality of the voices and sound effect are amazing as when bullets whiz by and off-screen actors are talking, you can hear them through the surrounds just fine. The score is epic and is loud and boastful, but it never once drowns out the dialogue or sound effects. This is a demo-worthy and flawless audio presentation.
The Batmobile (59 mins.) – This is an amazing and must-see extra all about the batmobile. And not just the one used in Nolan’s films, but all of the Batmobiles. There are interviews with Tim Burton and Joel Shumacher even, along with fans, artists, writers, and editors of the Batman franchise. You will get everything you wanted on the Batmobile here. This was a lot of fun to watch.
Theatrical Trailers (8 mins.) – There are four trailers for the film located here.
Ending The Knight (111 mins.) – I wish this was all part of one epic large documentary piece, but unfortunately it’s not. However, the material they cover is awesome. They cover everything in three different sections, which are titled Production, Characters, and Reflections. Each Section has several different featurettes that cover many and all aspects of the production and filming. I just wish that this was viewable to watch all at once without having to click the remote.
Print Campaign art Gallery – Tons of promo artwork and posters for the film.
Second Screen App – Take your iPhone or iPad, and while you watch the blu-ray you can do all sorts of fun stuff while you watch.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
This receives my highest recommendation. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is one of the finest films of the last decade and movies don’t get better or much more fun than this. It’s truly remarkable on all levels and definitely deserves more awards than it has received. The audio and video presentations are demo worthy here and the extras are amazing. Don’t hesitate to purchase this. This is a must-have.