Thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is a more fitting and visceral third act than any other superhero series hitherto created. I believe it will be successful and popular, though I also believe it will be open to rather broad interpretations by the audience.

I did not prepare for this viewing by re-watching the first two films. In point of fact, several years have elapsed since I last viewed Christopher Nolan’s second entry in his Batman saga, The Dark Knight. I watched it in true 15/70 IMAX in the theater on Navy Pier, Chicago, a place which was also one of the picture’s physical filming locations. The experience was one of titanic, mesmerizing awe. The Dark Knight Rises meets and/or exceeds this level of stunning grandeur in multiple ways.

Batman Begins was all about exploring the conditions and choices that lead Bruce Wayne to consider becoming the Batman. One of the core themes of the film is overcoming intense fear. “And why do we fall, Bruce?” is the memorable line delivered by Linus Roache, the actor who played Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne, “So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

The Dark Knight was about ratcheting up the tension by confronting Batman with a chaotic force of evil, personified in Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, a villain so incomprehensible, even his own ‘explanations’ for his existence are laced with obvious falsehoods. Batman does battle with purposeful, wicked villains, and then he must deflect, and somehow diffuse, the chaos The Joker induces as well. By the end of The Dark Knight, Batman himself has become even more vilified by the city he is trying to protect, and suffers profound personal loss.

I’m not a huge Batman buff, meaning I haven’t obsessively read all of the comics, watched the television programs, and I didn’t grow up with the absurd, live action cartoons that Tim Burton directed, nor the two follow-up duds that killed the character’s Hollywood potential for a spell. Therefore, I cannot attest to the purity of these films’ vision concerning the translation of essential threads from the massive corpus of Batman stories that exist. What I can say is that Christopher Nolan has crafted a nuanced, layered, and thoroughly complete arc for Batman’s character in these three films. I find this to be a terrific achievement, and one that is likely more important and more astounding than many people presently realize (and it sure seems like a lot of people are in Nolan’s corner).

The completion of this trilogy is satisfying, contains tremendous action sequences, and exudes a richness in layers of subtext to be discovered and debated. And that is all I will say on the film.

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