Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins galvanized a new era of comic book, adaptive filmmaking. Taking the cue from Tim Burton’s more humanized Batman, Nolan stripped down the Dark Knight to his core – Bruce Wayne. If you take away the parents, money, costume and gadgets, what do you have left? Who was Bruce Wayne? In Batman Begins, Nolan birthed a spoiled child and raised him into a man. Shunning his wealth and name for the power to strike fear in the heart of evil, Bruce (Christian Bale) began his quest to become the ultimate crime fighting symbol.
Nolan built up Bruce so that we could believe in the legend of Batman. Then, Nolan made Bruce face Batman’s worst enemy and Gotham’s greatest villain – the Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight. Although Bruce and Gotham suffered, the Batman was triumphant. Finally, after Batman defeated Gotham’s greatest threat, Nolan whittled the masked vigilantly back down to his core – Bruce Wayne – in The Dark Knight Rises. Without a city that needed him and without a body that could support the Batman theatrics, we were left with the man. Broken and battered, Bruce needed to be reminded of the innate fear that birthed the symbol. Thus, Nolan delivered a masterful capstone to his Bat saga.
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy stands up there with The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (Episodes IV through VI) as one of the greatest film trilogies ever made. The Dark Knight Rises capped off a near 10-year journey for Nolan. The film may have had its share of foibles, but the end result was satisfying. Most may still be confused about the medical nature of Bruce’s injury, or how he recovered (in an undeclared amount of time) with a simple punch to the back. But, one thing’s for sure, just as the film’s title suggests, the last thirty minutes made us believe that a man could Rise.
EDITOR’S PICK: Nolan Completes a Well-Rounded Trilogy
TDKR takes place several years after the events in The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is heralded as a hero, and laws passed in his name helped Gotham put violent criminals behind bars without the possibility of parole. Bruce has become a hermit, leading a sheltered life in a city that no longer needs its masked vigilante. He also has apparently destroyed all of the cartilage in his knee (fixed oddly enough by a simple leg brace). Then, Bane shows up. He’s a villain who was ousted from the League of Shadows by Ra’s Al Ghoul (Liam Neeson). In the words of Alfred (Michael Caine), Bruce’s faithful father figure and butler, Bane is not one to be “trifled” with.
Bane sets out to continue the work of Ra’s, the destruction of Gotham. But first, Bruce Wayne must be punished for his crimes against the League.
TDKR is filled with several awe-inspiring moments. There are also a few moments that tend to lag and befuddle the mind. Anne Hathaway does a marvelous job in the role of Catwoman. She switches from timid girl to sultry vixen in a heartbeat. As Catwoman, she’s the perfect counterbalance to Bruce’s darker side.
The Blu-ray release comes with a second special features disc that contains a Batmobile documentary and a collection of featurettes, entitled “Ending the Knight.” There is also a second screen app that can be downloaded to use, while you watch the movie. Be warned. Download the app to your device before you toggle on this feature. Going into and out of the movie once you select second screen takes some time. If you’re not ready to use it, you’ll find yourself waiting a good few minutes (which can always be used as a bathroom or popcorn break).
The Batmobile documentary unites all the TV and Movie Batmobiles starting with the Adam West TV series. It offers interviews with Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Joel Schumacher, and Adam West as well as several of the Batmobile designers. The documentary dives into the history of the Batmobile on TV, starting with the first TV series, which actually came before West’s version. In the first TV series, Batman was simply driving Bruce Wayne’s car. When the top was down it was Bruce’s car, and when it was up it was Batman’s car. This first “Batmobile” was based on the comic book. Before the 50s, when the Batmobile was truly redesigned and modernized with a more technically stylized look, Batman just drove around in Bruce’s car. The modernization was “necessary” after Bruce broke his leg in the comic.
The documentary is filled with several anecdotes from each Batman director as well as West. In one segment, Adam West says that he got permission to take the Batmobile off the lot to trick or treating. The documentary also features the designers of the 90s Batman animated series and Batman Beyond. Regarding Nolan’s Tumbler, you’ll learn that it was born of a toy model mashup from the production designer and a clay sculpting made by Nolan. Also, just assembling all 5 Batmobiles at once and driving them all down the street together is epic for any fan. This documentary is easily the most worthwhile bonus on the release.
While there are no deleted scenes or director commentary (to accompany the main feature), there is a wealth of behind-the-scenes featurettes in “Ending the Knight.” The featurettes are broken down into Production, Characters and Reflections. The Production featurettes give you most of the BTS story of the movie, starting with Bane’s airplane hijack scene that used only a limited amount of CG. The Character featurettes give you a BTS look into new characters, such as Bane and Catwoman, while analyzing the progression of Batman’s character across the three Nolan films. Finally, in the Reflections featurettes, you’ll hear from the cast and crew about this ten-year journey.
The Dark Knight Rises ends an era in the Nolan history books. However, he’s not giving up superheroes movies completely. Nolan is a producer on the upcoming Man of Steel movie, featuring Henry Cavill as Superman.