The Dark Knight Rises Over Pittsburgh

Dark Night Crises crowded lobby photo

Pittsburghers wait in anticipation of the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill.

It looks like Batman (Christian Bale) has finally met his match, at least in one on one combat, and unlike in The Dark Knight, it’s a fair fight.  No hounds or vision loss.  He suffers from more than a few punches at the hands of his nemesis and most powerful adversary yet: Bane (Tom Hardy).

The brutal on-screen fist fights between the two prompted 12-year-old Pittsburgher Jordan Kelly, who was pumped after the midnight premiere at the Manor Theater in Squirrel

Hill, to assert that these were his favorite parts of the movie. “And seeing a lot of Pittsburgh,” he added, “like Saks Fifth Avenue, Heinz Field, Liberty Avenue and Smithfield Street, all the bridges…” His Pittsburgh geography certainly trumps what mine was at 12.

Jordan Kelly is all smiles at 3 a.m. after watching The Dark Knight Rises.













However, Ben Hovne, 22, and also a Pittsburgh native, considered the hometown-based shots “a little distracting at times. I would see shots of places I’ve been before and I’d think ‘Hey! I know that place!’ instead of focusing on the movie,” Hovne said.



Ben Hovne enjoyed the movie, but found the familiarity of the Pittsburgh backdrops diverted his attention from the story.

Ben Hovne enjoyed the movie, but found the familiarity of the Pittsburgh backdrops diverted his attention from the story.













I can’t believe they blew up Wiener World!” exclaimed Jayla Lewis, a 19-year-old CAPA student, echoing my sentiments precisely. Personally, I won’t deny that I felt a twinge of pain inside that had nothing to do with the harm befalling the “Gothamites” every time I witnessed the cinematic destruction of our city’s structures.

But, metropolitan devastation is hardly the darkest aspect of The Dark Knight Rises. After all, when the movie commences, Batman is a wanted criminal for Harvey Dent’s murder, and things hardly go uphill from there. Although crime has been at a minimum in Gotham City for the past eight years, there’s a new troublemaker in town, and he’s about to play his hand.

If you’re like me, you’ll have little to no idea of who Bane is before heading to the theater.  You need not worry.  The villain’s past gradually unfolds throughout the movie, revolving heavily around the old “League of Shadows” from Batman Begins. Thus, unlike the Joker, whose history remains a mystery, Bane’s story becomes more and more relevant as the film progresses.

Whereas previous villains of “the Bat” have tended to stay local, Bane garners national attention with his antics.  Instead of putting ‘only’ two ships full of people at risk (the Joker’s social experiment), Bane threatens the entire area of downtown Gotham. Policemen are constantly struck down, buried, blocked in, and killed by Bane’s mercenaries, “not your average brawlers,” as the terrorist turns Gotham’s social, economic and legal structure on its head.

The people of our greatest city are resilient,” says the president of the United States in response to the masked man’s threat. Considering what they’re up against, they had better be.

The cast is star-laden.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a long way from Roger Bomman praying for the Angels to win the pennant (in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield).. His portrayal of Jon Blake, a cop-turned-investigator, (who could potentially be someone a bit more important in the distant future) is at least good enough to hold its own alongside Batman newcomers Anne Hathaway, who brilliantly plays a cold, stunning Catwoman; and Marion Cotillard, Bruce Wayne’s business associate and eventual new lover. Glad it only took you eight years to move on, Bruce.

Michael Caine delivers his best Alfred yet, stepping up to the challenge once again of being butler, friend, and psychologist to Wayne.  This time, however, their relationship sours when Alfred finally reveals a well-hidden secret to his employer. 

Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) can’t wait to get back in and help Batman again despite resigning at the end of the previous installment.  Even Thomas Lennon (Night at the Museum, Reno 911!) joins the crew, albeit briefly, as a doctor relaying bad medical news to the dissipating Bruce Wayne concerning his condition.  Look for another old Batman nemesis in a scene or two as well.

The superb acting and well-written script merge in this trilogy’s final chapter, creating a thrilling, suspenseful movie that remained engaging during its entire two hour and 40 minute duration.  The plot’s timeline in The Dark Knight Rises greatly exceeds that of its predecessor.  Yet, while the film’s content is ambitiously sprawling the plot is more linear.  Bane makes his move, the mission is clear; go, Batman go!

Inconsistencies and plot holes can be common in a movie this vast, and this is no exception to the rule.  I won’t go into detail, but some are pretty obvious.  Still, the length of the film is necessary for its ambitious proportions.  Throughout, it contained all the elements we have come to expect out of a Batman movie today: the guttural Batman growl; overcoming personal demons; nightlong chase scenes; a final epic battle (reminiscent of Gangs of New York, ala tanks and machine guns); a gut-wrenching (literally) plot twist; and the vivid exemplification of the contrast between anarchy and order.


Jayla Lewis laments the destruction of Wiener World, a Downtown Pittsburgh business, in The Dark Knight Rises.

Jayla Lewis laments the destruction of Wiener World, a Downtown Pittsburgh eatery, in The Dark Knight Rises.


I’m not even that into the whole Batman thing, but that movie was fantastic,” Jayla Lewis said after the show.  “Of course there’s going to be a fourth one!” Ben Hovne felt differently. “The ending was very fitting, it doesn’t need anything more,” he said.

Based on the final scenes, I can’t figure out if director Christopher Nolan was purposely messing with us, since he declared he was done with the series after the third one, or if he was setting it up for someone else to fill his spacious shoes and continue the legacy. Either way, while the movie did a fabulous job tying up all the loose ends, the last two scenes offer plenty of opportunity for another Batman, or maybe even another series.  And, let’s face it: if they continue producing Batman motion pictures of this caliber, we’re going to continue watching them.  Heck, I’m probably going to watch this one again, and soon.





Author, Matt Hackney, is a talented young freelance writer who resides in Oakland.




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