“Light it up”

Some heroes are born from greatness, and some are born from defiance. Others are born out of desperation. As a hero takes his or her place on the pedestal we have built for them, they can count on the cost for their heroism being steep.

These are the heroes we need to cling to the most – The ones that understand how much they have to sacrifice, and then do so willingly. They are the ones who we should try to emulate – the ones who can inspire us to band together as one, and rise.

It’s been eight years since the events of THE DARK KNIGHT, and Gotham is at peace. Into this peace comes Bane (Tom Hardy), a hulking masked terrorist bent on reducing Gotham to a smouldering pile of ash. Bane was trained by Ra’s al Ghul and The League of Shadows, so his repertoire of tricks to terrorize Gotham is the same set of tricks Batman would use to protect it.

Speaking of Batman, he has gone missing since the night of Harvey Dent’s killing. Some think he’s gone for good, others think he just needs people to believe in him again for him to rise up again. Along with the bat being m.i.a., very few have heard from Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) who is rumoured to be in a Howard Hughes-like state of recluse.

This reclusiveness sparks Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) to pick his pocket for valuable This reclusiveness pushes Commissioner Gordon to take on Bane without Bats’ helps. And this reclusiveness nudges beat cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) to confront Bruce head-on about what happened to Harvey.

Meanwhile, deep below the surface, Bane sets the wheels on a dastardly plot to pull Gotham down to the ground.
The very best stories have a way of closing the way they began. They remind us that from the start they were always about one thing, one key detail that underlined everything else we were told as each chapter unfolded. Somewhat surprisingly, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES does that in a way that brings the three Christopher Nolan films full circle. By returning to The League of Shadows’ effort to bring down Gotham’s every trace of civilization, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES stands not only as a chapter unto itself, but also as another reminder of how close we as a society are standing to the edge of the cliff. Our cities can turn to anarchy in a matter of moments, and it wouldn’t take a ‘roid raging goon to do it – all it could take is a crisis at a major financial nerve centre. BATMAN BEGINS threatened to bring Gotham to its knees through economics, so it’s poetic that the stock market is Bane’s first point of attack.

The other moment in BATMAN BEGINS that we come back to is the concept that a hero can be bigger than any one person – a hero can be a symbol. The person can be corrupted, the person can grow disillusioned, and as exemplified by Bruce Wayne when we first rally up with him, a person can be broken. The symbol has the ability to be whatever people need it to be; for example, a symbol can be a rallying call. This movie shows us that Batman is more than Bruce Wayne surrounding himself with wonderful toys. “Batman” represents us as a people banding together to fight back. That’s what makes John Blake’s chalk markings so subtly powerful – they tell the enemy that Gotham hasn’t given up yet.

It should be no surprise that these ideas exist within this summer blockbuster, after all it’s concepts like these that have built the franchise up to where it stands in the collective conscience. Some might even say that it’s these ideas that make these films the best comic book movies ever. What is surprising, is the way the film successfully uses pure epic scale. Everything about this film – from its megalomaniacal plot to it’s IMAX presentation – is about doing something grand. Studios are known to do this with franchises, but not know when to say “when”, and because of that, they drive properties into the ground with overabundance. With THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Christopher Nolan has used the studio’s goodwill to map out a deliberate and methodical movie, but on the largest scale seen since THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

That deliberate and methodical storytelling might be too much for some though. The film’s ambitious story not only puts a lot of pieces on the board, but it actually sidelines the main player for much of it. This movie is Bane’s more than it is Batman’s (or Bruce’s), and while that played remarkably well for me, Bane isn’t the one that everybody is coming to see. Further, Bane’s plan is convoluted, and seems to lean heavily on almost every character in the story doing something “just so”. This film isn’t about inciting human anarchy like we saw in THE DARK KNIGHT, it’s about crippling humanity entirely. Nolan walks us there the long way, and it might not be a walk everybody wants to take.

I, on the other hand, was more than happy to walk every bumpy step of this last mile. The film is dotted with individual totems as great as anything the series has offered so far, and shines a light on why a movement to upset the order of things must come with clear leadership. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a tale of family, resilience, and legacy, and is a fitting conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s caped crusader series.

Matineescore: ★ ★ ★ ★ out of ★ ★ ★ ★
What did you think? Please leave comments with your thoughts and reactions on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.