I was very impressed by the film The Dark Knight Rides which I saw in theatre. This is the final part of the trio of new films about the Batman comic hero. This in my view is the best of all the Superhero films with some predictable outcomes but also some surprises. The film combines great action sequences with a serious and depth exploration of human issues
Christian Bale plays the superhero and as Bruce Wayne the wealthy businessman and socialite supported by his factotum played by Michael Caine, The film links back to Wayne’s departure from Gotham City to find himself which led to the Tibet style inner truth and physical development and the League of Shadows. Since the death of the woman who sacrificed herself for him he has become a recluse delegating his business affairs and leaving the city under the control of the Mayor and the official forces of Law and Order. Batman has been disgraced with a warrant for his arrest for death of the cities new Hero who was in reality the baddie.
At work and building an underground force of miscreants is Tom Hardy intent on destroying Gotham City and the excommunicated leader of the League of Shadows previously defeated by Batman. With the help of a city official he has gained building contracts where the cement used for structure has been laced with an explosive mixture which he triggers to bring the city under his control, using a Batman created Energy source as a nuclear type bomb which he threatens to explode if Batman does not surrender to him. He plans the city destruction anyway but uses the threat to prevent people leaving the city or attempting to enter it. He also releases criminals from the jails to help comtrolthe city and imposes martial law and instant trials and executions.
Two women play crucial roles in the film. The first is Anne Hathaway a clever Cat Burglar who takes a job at the home Batman’s Castle to steal his finger prints on contract to frame and discredit. She has been promised that her criminal record will be erased so she can start a new life. Although the two are drawn to each other it she that eventually betrays Batman into the hands of his enemy, leaving the city defenceless. Batman is removed to a prison in at the base of a great well in a far oriental land which is the only means of exist. The prisoners are provided with food and water via baskets and ropes removed to the top.
Only one person is known to have escaped a young person born the prison and who is believed to be Tom Hardy as the villain. However as the film ends this is shown not to be so but Wayne’s partner in the environmental Energy Project played by Marion Cotillard. It emerges that she was the child prisoner in the prison. Tom Conti plays another prisoner who advises Wayne that the only way out was by the child not using safety ropes. Wayne has to recover from several failed attempts and regain his strength and fear. He has lost his fear in effect wanting to die because of the loss and building up of pressures from all that has happened to him.
At one point he dismisses Caine who in turn threatens to leave because he fears Wayne has a death wish. After escaping and returning although we are not shown how Wayne achieves the return, he attempts to gain the help of Hathaway who at first refuses but then agrees. He is also supported by Morgan Freeman who has run Wayne Enterprises for him and helped create the secret weapons and Energy machine. This works but has been stopped by Wayne because he feared its misuse. He is also helped by Gary Oldman as the Police Commissioner but who has been taken out of action and in hospital and by a young police man John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt) who presses Wane to become the Batman Hero again.
In the final long action sequence the struggle is to defuse the bomb with the trigger held by Cotillard and just when it looks as if the combined efforts are successful the countdown continues and Wayne is forced to fly the bomb onto the Ocean where it explodes and where it is assumed he has given up his life as the auto pilot system has not worked.
In an earlier sequence Caine has said that during the years when Wayne was previously away he had pent his time at European city dining at the same street table in the same restaurant, hoping that he would see Wayne eating there one day happy with a wife and family enjoying life and freed from his role and the demons which haunted. They will not speak but just acknowledge and indeed this is what happens at the end of the film after it is revealed that the auto pilot mechanism had been repaired. The woman is Anne Hathaway. There is also the suggestion of a new series, perhaps with the young policeman whose real name is Robin and who once met and was influenced by Batman as a child. It he is who appears to have inherited the secret Batman technology as the film closes.
The film grossed just under a billion dollars two to three times its expenditure. It is suggested part of the falling off from the expected billion plus turnover was because of the city of Aurora Colorado horror when 12 mainly young people were gunned down and another 58 were wounded shootings at a midnight film premier. The film has led to another debate about gun culture in the USA and also the role of film violence in triggering the minds and emotions of individuals. I went to see the film more because of this and also from having seen the previous film in the trilogy as well as the original film series. I was engaged, moved surprised and impressed by this film.