Much like Richard Donner changed the face of how superheroes are portrayed in film in 1978 with Superman: The Movie, Christopher Nolan brought superheroes into a darker, more reality based existence with Batman Begins in 2005. He brought the story of Batman to the forefront with a dark and emotional story that catapulted the film into the stratosphere, and followed it up with one of the highest grossing superhero movies of all time with The Dark Knight. With Heath Ledger’s posthumously won Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, the film became a phenomenon and remains one of the most beloved superhero films ever made. Right from the start Nolan has stated that he planned a three film arc, and then he would be done with Batman. True to his word, the phenomenal series came to an end this year with The Dark Knight Rises.
Eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Batman (Christian Bale) has taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Gotham has taken control of its own fate and is managing the city without the help of the caped crusader. But when a new terrorist leader named Bane (Thomas Hardy) arrives, Gotham’s finest cannot stand up to his violent attacks and desire to destroy Gotham City. The Dark Knight is the only one with the ability to stop Bane, but at what price?
The Dark Knight Rises is perhaps the perfect film to end Nolan’s epic Batman story. While not as fun as Batman Begins and not as perfectly executed as The Dark Knight, Rises stands on its own two feet as the most emotionally resonant of the three films. Bale brings a real emotional struggle to Wayne/Batman, and his reluctance to continue on as Batman is intriguing. The story is taut and there even seems to be more at risk for everyone in Gotham with the arrival of Bane. The Joker did a lot of damage, but Bane threatens to destroy everything and everyone if he has to. And Hardy is phenomenal in the role, creating my personal favorite villain of the entire series. I was also very surprised by the addition of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (although she is never referred to as such). In anyone else’s hands, the addition of a third main character could have overloaded the film as often happens in this genre, but Nolan handled it very well, making her necessary and making her this great symbol of moral ambiguity in between the two extremes of Batman and Bane. There is more story and less action here, but the course of the story makes the action scenes all the more tense and the outcome of each action scene that much more consequential to the end of the story as a whole. Nolan simply could not have ended his story any better than he did with The Dark Knight Rises.
The Blu-ray from Warner Home Video is stellar and easily matches the excellent quality present throughout the first two chapters on hi def. The picture, even though the film is so dark, never compromises detail or clarity. Close ups are incredible and during the snow scenes, you could freeze frame and count the snowflakes. Colors are gorgeous and bold and the soundtrack is booming yet clear as a bell. This is a top notch transfer to be treasured. An emotional end to one of the most successful film series ever, The Dark Knight Rises should be the guaranteed Blu-ray on every film lovers list for 2012.