Batman is back again, but it may have been wiser for Mr. Wayne remain a recluse until a better script for The Dark Knight Rises came along. Nolan brothers set a new standard for comic book movies with their previous endeavours in Gotham, but they didn't exceed the high bar they set for themselves in The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight Rises picks up where The Dark Knight left off. 8 years after Harvey Dent's death, the streets of Gotham have been cleaned up thanks to tough laws passed in Dent's name. Meanwhile, the caped crusader's tarnished reputation and injuries keep Wayne and his alter ego holed up at the Wayne Manor. However, peace doesn't last forever in a city like Gotham. New threats are introduced, and Bruce Wayne must drag himself out of his decrepit state to save his city from annihilation once again.
The problem we have with The Dark Knight Rises is that it wastes so many opportunities to tell a better story. Firstly, Batman's dilapidated state throughout the movie is not as convincing as it should be. It may be the quick edits and cuts through out the movie that rushes Wayne's recovery and rise, or it could be that Bruce Wayne seems too muscular and well-fed in a prison that characters keep referring to as 'Hell on Earth.' Bruce Wayne's recovery just feels too easy and effortless. Perhaps Christian Bale should have dropped his weight down to The Machinist level for the first half of the movie.
Secondly, the whole social stratification aspect is largely brushed over in the movie. Though he hints at some ideas, Nolan does not explore any political concepts in depth during the movie that could give the audience something to think about. Good and evil is crystal clear in this movie. There is no ethical dilemma at all.
Nolan had a chance to ask some interesting questions - Which side does a billionaire crime fighter stand on during a proletariat revolution? Isn't Batman just preserving the status quo of the ruling class? Can Batman exist in a society with no rules? Does Batman work for the people or for the system? - but he explores none of these concepts in depth in The Dark Knight Rises.
It would have been much more interesting to put Bane on a pedestal as a charismatic and revolutionary leader who leads the underprivileged people of Gotham against the fat and wealthy. We wanted to see a large scale class warfare - Instead, The Dark Knight Rises is all about an overly intricate terrorist attack that is doomed to fail from the start.
On a brighter note, all of the cast in the movie give superb performances. Christian Bale does a solid job as an aged Bruce Wayne and a recovering Batman. Anne Hathaway steals the show as Selina Kyle. Tom Hardy is brutal and menacing as Bane. However, we cannot help but think that this cast composed of Oscar winners is severely under-utilized in The Dark Knight Rises.
Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a decent hollywood ending to Nolan's Batman trilogy. It could have been much more than a summer flick, but that is what it is. Children and Batman fans will enjoy the movie just fine though. We give it 3 enjoyment balloons out of 5.