The Dark Knight Rises
It has been about eight years since Batman (Christian Bale) graced the streets of Gotham. After accepting the blame for crimes committed by the late Harvey Dent (played by Aaron Eckhart in the prequel, The Dark Knight), in order to preserve the two-faced man’s more honorable image, the caped crusader determined it was best not to show his own mask in the angry metropolis. Bruce Wayne (Batman’s true identity) has likewise retreated, dropping out of the city’s social scene. But events are about to transpire that will cause the Dark Knight to rise again.
The first is the intrusion of a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) who seems more interested in him than just the contents of his safe. Another is the insight of a bright young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) that sees right through Wayne’s conflicted character. And the last, and perhaps most compelling reason, is the discovery of a new threat to Gotham’s peace: A disfigured mercenary named Banes (Tom Hardy) who shares the same training and subsequent disfellowship from The League of Shadows, the brotherhood that taught Batman his skills. (This fraternity figures prominently in the first movie of this trilogy, Batman Begins). So despite the pleadings of his faithful and concerned butler Alfred (Michael Caine), the recluse (and his suppressed rage) comes out of retirement.
Of course, the super hero is in for more than he originally suspects. Although he arms himself with high-tech tools, courtesy of Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), he isn’t quite prepared for the hatred of his fellow citizens that still believe in Batman’s guilt, the witch-hunt of a police force determined to hold him accountable, the betrayal of assumed friends, or the attack on the personal and finical affairs of Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile Banes proves to be a very formidable foe, with connections to numerous nefarious doings, and greater brute strength than the returning champion has to give the challenge.
The writers of this latest DC comic adaptation (Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer) deserve credit. They have created an intricate script with tangled plot lines that weave in threads from both of the proceeding films. They even include cameos from former characters Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson). While the end product may not be entirely revolutionary, such as the “wham, pow, bang” type of fist-fighting showdowns between the villain and the hero which hearken back to that days of the comic strip, fans of this franchise are sure to applaud their careful work.
Yet parents with teens anxious to see this supposed final chapter in the series should be well aware of the film’s continuous violence. Some of these depictions are larger than life. An example is a heart-stopping plane hijacking that takes place in mid air and later the fear of a nuclear bomb detonation. Others are a little closer to home, like depictions of choking, numerous neck breakings and a character whose back is cracked—all of which feature enhanced sound effects. Weapon use is pervasive, resulting in countless deaths, explosions and scattered corpses. Physical and physiological torture is also employed. And even though blood is seldom seen, these atrocities are often portrayed in much detail.
As if to balance this objectionable content, the script is light on profanities (a handful of mild and moderate terms) and sex (an implied intimate relationship where only a man’s naked chest and a woman’s bare shoulders are seen). As well, the disturbing factor has been scaled back from that seen in The Dark Knight to about the same level as in Batman Begins. Where as Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was sadistic, Banes is only brutal and ruthless.
While these subtle differences may just be shades of grey, families may appreciate the portrayals of loyalty ands self sacrifice the main character displays for the people of Gotham, even when their behavior begins to look more like the French Revolution or the Spanish Inquisition. As he and various others grapple with noble ideals versus self-preservation, the movie presents an interesting picture of human nature.