The Dark Knight Rises

 Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy comes to an end with The Dark Knight Rises.  Nolan’s third and final chapter is perhaps his most, and more importantly, the Batman franchise’s most riveting film to date, it’s certainly the most doom-ridden, but that much can be seen in the previews.  The Dark Knight Rises is an amazing film succeeding beyond the expectations set by its predecessor The Dark Knight (2008).

It’s been eight years since Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes.  In that time, the Harvey Dent Act has reduced violent crime in Gotham significantly.  But as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) forewarns, “There’s a storm coming…” in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy) – and Bane is intent on destroying Gotham and returning it “to the people.”

Promotion for The Dark Knight Rises paints a bleak future for Batman and the people of Gotham through its introduction of Bane – an imposing, extremely powerful supervillain who will stop at nothing until Batman is beaten and broken.  If Bane weren’t enough, Batman must also contend with a tricky kitty in his midst – and the most famed villainess in comic history – Catwoman.  She’s got her own agenda, regardless of who lives or dies.  Among the newer faces, some returning and perhaps surprising faces resurface (names of which will not be disclosed here) in moments of shock and plot twist.

The story, based on Bob Kane’s original characters, by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer, is solid, twisted, and surprising – a fitting finale for Nolan, the true magic of which shines through his cast and staging.  The Dark Knight Rises features role reprisals by Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Christian Bale – all of which are great in their own right.  The film also features a few newcommers, including the mysterious role of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Anne Hathaway.  First and foremost, kudos to casting directors John Papsidera and Toby Whale for selecting Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway.  Hardy is devilishly superb as Bane – the eerie-voiced villain.  Hardy is strong and confident, providing Bane with both an imposing voice and stature.  Conversely, Hathaway delivers some fiendishly sexy adaptability, and flexibility, to the role of Catwoman.  Her whispered lines, sultry lips, and slinky movements make this part fit her like a glove.  And even though these villains are on different ends of the spectrum, they share one commonality – their eyes.

Hardy, who dons a mask that covers the majority of his face, doesn’t have facial expressions to propel him through this role – as Heath Ledger did with The Joker.  Instead, Hardy had to overcome an obstacle that would have spelled disaster for a host of screen actors, and he does so with ease, thanks to his eyes in key moments.  Hathaway is the same – her acting versatility is on display throughout The Dark Knight Rises and in several moments of her own, in her eyes is where the story lies.  But beyond the masks, faces, and identities of the many people running around the streets of Gotham, there are some stellar and sometimes unnerving confrontations.

Be prepared to witness some explosive and engrossing fight scenes at various points, and be prepared to learn how the situation’s become so dark.  This Batman outing has a slower, more calculated tone which works in its favor, allowing the film to generate the necessary unease and suspense.  Though some critics have panned the pacing, claiming it moves too slow in the beginning half of its significant run-time, it’s safe to assume and say that The Dark Knight Rises moved at a strong, steady pace – allowing each and every intricacy to have time to effectively sink in and reach its target.

The Dark Knight Rises is full of surprises – and if you’ve been speculating about some things, then there’s a good chance that you’re right.  But if you’re speculating about whether or not to hang around after the credits stop rolling, then there’s a spoiler to be given away – there’s nothing beyond the closing shot of the credits.  The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13 and runs 164 minutes.

Grade:  A+


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