by Sherry Lipp
Article first published as Blu-ray
Review: The Dark Knight Rises on Blogcritics.
Rises is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, Commissioner Gordon
(Gary Oldman) is racked with guilt over his deception of the public
regarding the death of Harvey Dent. And, of course, Batman is persona
non grata in Gotham City. That doesn’t matter too much because crime has
virtually been wiped from the streets. The tranquility is interrupted
when the masked strongman Bane (Tom Hardy) begins to wreak havoc,
attempting to continue the mission of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of
Shadows (as established in Begins). Bruce Wayne is forced out of seclusion, resurrecting Batman as the city begins to fall to Bane.
As enjoyable as I find the film overall, I have mixed feelings about
Bane as a villain. He seems like more of a strong-arm man than anything
else. He is mere brute force, and is not really that interesting of a
character. We don’t get to know enough about him, though some intriguing
elements of his backstory are revealed (including why he wears the
breathing apparatus). There are other evil forces at work in The Dark Knight Rises,
but to say anything further would give away the twist at the end.
Another element that doesn’t quite work is the attempt at contemporary
political commentary. The “occupy movement” allegory already feels
outdated, and the message is muddled at best. Bruce Wayne receives
little sympathy from the financially strapped Selina Kyle when he loses
his fortune. On the other hand, the middle-class masses are all too
eager to blindly follow the maniacal Bane. So who is worse—the filthy
rich (depicted as uncaring) or the common man (depicted as unable to
think for himself)?
The visual and audio presentation of this Blu-ray is excellent. The
video is presented in a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer with an aspect ratio
that alternates between 1.78:1 (for scenes filmed in IMAX) and 2.40:1.
The detail is exceptionally strong, with a sharp image. City streets
look grimy and realistic. The Dark Knight Rises is not about
bright colors, with the exception of the bright yellow shirts and
jerseys worn during the football game, but there is a rich fullness to
the dark tones that is well represented here. The gray buildings, drab
prison, and dank city underground all have realistic textures that
enhance the viewing experience. Even in the dimly lit sequences (of
which there are many), the definition is good and action easy to see.
The two-disc Blu-ray set has a good amount of special features, though I
was not bowled over by them. Presented in 12 segments (for a total of
about 68 minutes), the “Production” section provides information on all
aspects of creating the film. The segments detail specific sequences of
the film, costumes, weapons, sets, and characters. Another nearly
30-minute section (in three parts) focuses on the characters of Batman,
Selina Kyle, and Bane. This provides some interesting information on
adapting the comic book character of Bane to Nolan’s vision for the
film. Bane was a character Nolan did not initially see as fitting into
the more realistic tone of his Dark Knight series.
The Dark Knight Rises is a must-have Blu-ray for fans of the
series. Despite a few minor weaknesses in the storytelling, I found the
film to be highly engrossing and a solid finale to the trilogy. I
particularly enjoyed the performances of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne
Hathaway. The spectacular Blu-ray presentation makes this film worth