The third chapter of a trilogy is the hardest to make because they have to meet the high bar set by the second chapter and wrap up everything set up by the first two films. With The Dark Knight’s ridiculously high bar, the death of the late great Heath Ledger and reputations of third chapters, you could say the odds were against this.
But thanks to the genius that is Christopher Nolan, this film is fantastic. It may not be as good as The Dark Knight, which is fine as it’s still an epic conclusion to the trilogy. Also this is arguably the best third chapter of any film trilogy.
Christopher Nolan made the decision not to make any reference to the Joker, out of respect to Heath Ledger and keep his performance contained in The Dark Knight. His actions in that film had still left major consequences that this film deals with, so his impact is still there without being directly mentioned.
One of the main themes is Pain - both physically and mentally. The events of The Dark Knight left Bruce with permanent injuries and trauma, which have taken a toll on him the past 8 years. He needs to overcome to become Batman again to take down his biggest threat, and if he can, move on or die miserably.
In addition to the Tumbler and the Batpod, we have the Batwing, which is like a Tumbler that is also a helicopter. Catwoman’s costume consists of safe-cracking goggles that resemble cat ears when flipped up, and her whip has been replaced with a serrated spiked high heel boots. Bane’s Mexican wrestler mask and tubes injecting Venom into him have been replaced with a mask that pumps a pain-reducing drug into his mouth.
While Bane is not as memorable or compelling of a villain as the Joker, he is a massive threat to Batman. The Joker tested Batman on his morals, while Bane challenges Batman physically, as he has a lot of strength and Bruce is out of shape, having not been Batman for 8 years.
Christian Bale delivers his best performance as our broken hero struggling to crawl his way back to be tougher than ever. More sympathetic than ever, he starts off reclusive and struggling to overcome post-traumatic stress. Then following him on an incredibly difficult journey to not only get back into shape but also find the will to live.
Michael Caine is also top notch as Alfred and has a particular scene that will bring the audience to tears. Bale and Caine’s chemistry is more touching than ever, putting the father/son dynamic to the ultimate test. Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman once again bring their A-game as James Gordon and Lucius Fox and they are fantastic.
Tom Hardy is almost completely unrecognisable as Bane and he is incredibly menacing. Considering he has most of his face covered, he is required to do a lot of acting with his eyes and body language, which he pulls off really well. His dialogue may require a little getting used to but it suits his character.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes a surprisingly likeable and intriguing addition as young police officer John Blake, who plays a pivotal role in helping Batman. Marion Cotillard initially seemed like an odd addition as a colleague of Bruce at Wayne Enterprises, but her role does end up serving a purpose.
Anne Hathaway steals the show as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, a jewel thief looking for an escape from the crime world. She’s a femme fatale anti-heroine who’s witty, mysterious, manipulative and has no problem fighting anyone and would kill if she had to. Her ‘Catwoman’ name is not mentioned, however there’s plenty of cat reference including a newspaper article referring to her as “The Cat”. It’s mesmerizing how she plays people, such as pretending to be a shy maid and changing to a sophisticated party guest in an instant.
The chemistry between Bale and Hathaway is perfect, the way they exchange dialogue is so much fun to watch. Batman and Catwoman draw great contrasts to each other, such as her being from a poor background and having a blurred moral code, making her intriguing as both a love interest and an enemy.
Like the last two films, there are several memorable moments: Bane’s opening plane attack, Selina’s bar fight, Batman and Catwoman on the rooftop, the football stadium, the Batman Vs. Bane fight scene and not to mention the whole epic climax. But the final five minutes are fantastic, what a perfect way to end this trilogy, it had my heart pounding until the final shot. As a Batman fan, this ending felt like Christopher Nolan going to every fan and hugging them.
The Dark Knight Trilogy is my favourite film trilogy and my favourite superhero franchise of all time. They deliver on well-written characters – heroes and villains, psychological themes, layers of plot and epic action sequences. Batman is the greatest superhero of all time and this trilogy does him justice.
Written by Jack Parish