Author: Matt Grazel
July 20, 2012

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Initially, after I saw the film four years ago, it was difficult to imagine how a sequel could surpass The Dark Knight but I knew it was going to happen once everything began to take shape for the last chapter in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy.”

The Dark Knight Rises is the most emotionally engaging film of the trilogy.

I noticed how the actors portrayed what emotion is required through their eyes. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and Michael Caine, in particular, depict how they are feeling through their eyes in the film.

Christian Bale returns and gives his best performance of the trilogy as Bruce Wayne. In the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, Bale shows how defeated Bruce is in his body language and facial expressions. Bale captures the will of Bruce to return as Batman and when he climbs out of the prison. Bale is great in the scenes with Alfred, Selina Kyle and John Blake and displays different traits of his personality in each of these interactions that make him who he is. Bruce and Alfred have several disagreements about how Bruce is living his life. Bruce and Selina have an unstable relationship but he believes there is more to Selina. Bruce can understand and wants a fresh start to his life like Selina does for herself. Bruce serves as a source of inspiration and a friend for Blake. Bale truly defines who Bruce Wayne is in his third and final Batman film.

Anne Hathaway is amazing as Selina Kyle. She depicts what she is feeling through her eyes adding to her performance, which is the best in the film in my opinion and my favorite. She goes above and beyond what I was expecting as she disappears into the role. Selina is insidious, sexy, fascinating, mysterious but yet sincere as well. Hathaway characterizes all of these qualities in her portrayal. Hathaway is fantastic during scenes that require quick changes in emotion. The changes in her personality are seen through her eyes no matter what emotion she is interpreting sincerely or pretending to. Selina begins to care for Bruce because I don’t think anyone wanted to or cared enough to get to know her as well as maintain belief that there is more to her than what she appears to be. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance as Officer John Blake is surprising in terms of how much of an importance the character is to the plot. Blake is nothing short of admirable in this film and he does not hold his feelings back. One example is when he reveals his disappointment to Commissioner Gordon in person when Bane exposes the cover up by Gordon and Batman over the crimes committed by Harvey Dent. Throughout the film, Bruce teaches Blake about why he became Batman and how to protect other people he cares about. Gordon teaches him how to become a better police officer and a leader. What Blake learns from both of them is shown when he needs to act and lead on his own.

Gary Oldman returns as Commissioner Gordon and delivers another outstanding performance. Gordon is clearly troubled by the lie he and Batman created in order to uphold the reputation of Dent as an inspiration for Gotham. Despite being wounded, Gordon recovers and remains as determined as ever to stop Bane from destroying Gotham. He even learns how much of a hero he is when he finds out Batman is Bruce Wayne, which proves that even the strongest of heroes need heroes of their own.

Tom Hardy is ruthless as Bane. There is nothing to like about this character and I don’t recall ever wanting to see Batman stop anyone as much as in this film. All the credit goes to how the character is written and Hardy’s phenomenal interpretation. Bane is a true villain and there is nothing likeable about this man. Hardy always shows what emotion may be required in a scene through his eyes in any film he has been in. Hardy’s eyes are frightening and add to what Bane as vindictive as he is. Bane is terrifying both physically and psychologically terrifying which makes him one of Batman’s greatest foes.

Michael Caine’s performance as Alfred is heartfelt. Alfred’s decision to leave Bruce is shocking but even though he knows their relationship will never be the same, he is sacrificing that in order to save Bruce’s life. Even though it is very sad to see Alfred grieving at the gravestones of the Wayne family, it is satisfying to see the expression on his face when he sees Bruce at the end.

Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Lucius Fox. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, an ambitious board member at Wayne Enterprises and Matthew Modine portrays Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley. Fox remains the dependable figure for Bruce that he has been and Bruce relies on him more in this film. Tate has a significant business opportunity for Wayne Enterprises. Deputy Commissioner Foley temporarily fills in for Commissioner Gordon before joining the fight against Bane and his mercenaries. All three performances add to the great cast assembled for this epic film.

The film’s main protagonist and main antagonist are equals. Bruce Wayne has never met someone as physical and intelligent as Bane. However, Bane has never been opposed by someone has resilient as Bruce Wayne.

The Dark Knight Rises is the conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan. The film is the best of the three because there is an ending to Bruce Wayne’s story and Bruce endures as much adversity as he ever has. The threat to Gotham is as dangerous and monumental as anything that has come before. In addition, the plot and characterizations are excellent resulting in an epic film and conclusion.

This is an unforgettable film that I am thankful I got to experience and that I will never forget.

Also, it was commendable that Christian Bale visited the victims of the tragedy at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and paid his respects. Bale shows that a hero could be anyone. - Matt Grazel


THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -- starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard -- hits theaters on JULY 20, 2012!

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