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 Video: ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ comes in strong onto the 4K UHD format with a 2160p transfer with both 2.40:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios, because of the different scenes that were filmed in glorious IMAX. With that, the movie was shot on 35mm and 65mm and now has a new 4K transfer, which results in an amazing video presentation. Again, like ‘The Dark Knight‘, this is demo-worthy. Detail is impeccable with the finest and smallest details showing up on film. The textures in the airplane in the first scene look great and the little individual furs on Banes jacket show up easily and are all distinguishable. It’s quite impressive.
The heavy CG sequences all look great too, particularly the football game scene. You’ll be able to make out all the tiny dirt and blades of grass as it implodes. The Batsuit looks incredible with all the imperfections in the leather as does Catwoman’s suite too. Wider shots of the underground prison and the new Wayne manor show all great architectural details as well with bricks and stone. Colors are bright and full of rich detail as well in all lighting conditions. Perhaps the most colorful moment is at the football game again with all of the yellow uniforms, green field, and many different colors of outfits that people wear. Each color is nuanced and deep with the different filters that apply. Black levels are amazingly deep and inky throughout with zero crush as well. The skin tones are natural throughout as well. There are no instances of any banding or video noise to speak of. Demo-worthy upgrade here, folks.
The Audio: This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which sounds excellent. I just wish there was a Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mix here. Still, the audio presentation sounds excellent here and could be demo worthy in select scenes for sure. Sound effects are loud and robust with each giant explosion of each bridge, gun shot, and use of the Batmobile and Bat-copter. Their noises just propel the sound design into the next level. Bane’s voice is deep and mostly understandable, but packs that heft with good bass.
Other big sound effects and ambient noises sounds great through the rear speakers too. The big fight scene in the street at the end of the film is spectacular with tons of voices yelling, gun shots, punches, and other city sounds that fully immerse you in to the chaos that’s happening. Not one sound effect is left out and sounds excellent. The score is top notch and always adds to the emotional tone of the film and adds a big element of suspense. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand and free of pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. A wonderful audio mix here.
There are no new extras here, nor are there any extras on the 4K UHD Disc itself, but all the extras are imported from previous releases and show up on the Blu-ray included.
The Batmobile (HD, 59 Mins.) – An awesome extra all on the Batmobile that features fans of Batman, writers, editors, artists, and all the ‘Batman’ directors from all previous films since the 1980s. Super cool extra for sure.
Ending the Knight (HD, 106 Mins.) – There are a ton of extras throughout here, but does not have a Play All feature, which is super annoying. You’ll have to navigate everything, but the content is excellent with tons of interviews, behind the scenes featurettes, and on-set footage that cover all aspects of making the movie and specific scenes.
Still Gallery (HD) – Tons of promo artwork for the film.
Trailers (HD, 9 Mins.) – A few trailers for the film.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ was an excellent end to this specific Batman trilogy. I loved everything about it. It brought everything to a cohesive and entertaining end. Bane and Batman have a great fight scene and it was very cool to see how Brice Wayne overcame his fear and getting back to saving Gotham. What an amazing trilogy and movie. The video and audio presentations are both excellent here and upgrades from previous versions and the extras are wall worth watching, although I wish there was an easier way to watch them. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR SURE!
Written By: Bryan Kluger