The Dark Knight Rises TDKR Reviews/Reactions (No Discussion) (Spoiler-free)

C. Lee

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Oct 24, 2002
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Ooooops....someone just got probation.....guess they should have read the title and my first post and what to post in here....

'Dark Knight' rises to perfect ending
by Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency
First Posted Monday, July 16, 2012 12:00 AM EDT

The Dark Knight Rises is a spectacular and thrilling conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

With Christian Bale portraying the brooding, conflicted Batman again -- probably for the last time -- this trilogy is now the best of its kind. Regardless of the number of installments, no other comic book franchise can boast being this great, so consistently, and for so long.

Nolan also leaves a window open for sequels, although not necessarily for Batman and not necessarily for Nolan to direct. Among other possibilities, Anne Hathaway's sensational introduction as Catwoman makes a stand-alone movie for her enticing. Damn, the girl's good in the physical aspects of her cat burglar role, as well as being sexy and funny whether playing Selina Kyle or her feline alter-ego.

For audiences who want smart storytelling with their adrenaline rush, The Dark Knight Rises, which opens late Thursday, is as profoundly moving as it is dynamic. It is as intimate as it is huge, especially in the IMAX format. It is as surprising as it is predictable, thanks to plot twists that you don't see coming. It is as occasionally amusing as it is dark and brooding, and spikes of comic relief are welcome in all the madness.

This franchise is also deeply rooted in the 73-year history of Batman, including the Frank Miller phase. Yet Nolan also layered in original ideas. For example, The Dark Knight Rises is inspired by the French Revolution, with specific references to Charles Dickens' epic historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. As a result, there is a balance of the familiar and the fantastic that makes the movie both realistic and larger-than-life.

The scenario for The Dark Knight Rises is actually pretty simple, even if the plotting gets complicated. In movie time, it is eight years after the end of The Dark Knight (although only four years passed in real time). Batman is disgraced and retired. Bruce Wayne is a crippled recluse moping about his mansion, wallowing in self-pity. Then arch-villain Bane arrives with his disposable henchmen to foment a people's revolution. Gotham is thrown into anarchy. Will Batman emerge from hiding to save the city?

The excellent core cast is back: Bale, of course, with Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. New are Hathaway along with Marion Cotillard as Wayne's engaging new love interest, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an idealistic Gotham policeman and Tom Hardy as the brutish Bane. Miraculously -- because this is a comic book movie -- Nolan humanizes them all, even Bane, in interesting ways.

A technical point: Unlike in the sneak previews, you can actually hear most of what Hardy says as the masked and muffled Bane. Nolan has obviously clarified the dialogue. For that matter, the technical accomplishments of the whole are at the highest levels. This popcorn movie is a cinematic banquet.

Rating: 5/5
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Eight years after Batman disappeared, blamed for murder, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a wounded recluse, but Gotham is vibrant — until masked maniac Bane (Tom Hardy) decides it’s high time to bring the city down. Facing this new threat and mysterious cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Wayne decides the Dark Knight must rise, once again.

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As The Dark Knight Rises, so has anticipation. In 2005, when Christopher Nolan rebooted and resuited Batman, the cinematic reputation of the Caped Crusader was at a pitiful low after the gaudy debacle of The Film That Shall Not Be Named. Now, a short seven years later, Nolan could deliver the print of his trilogy topper in a chariot drawn by flame-breathing unicorns with diamond eyes and some people would still shrug and say, “Meh. It’s not as impressive as The Dark Knight.” In this — as within Rises itself — he could be said to be the victim of his own success. He raised the bar so high, no-one could be expected to clear it. Still, whether you believe this betters Begins or eclipses Knight, it is certainly a satisfying conclusion to what is now — we’re calling it — the best superhero series of all time.

Not that Nolan ever really wanted his Batman to be ‘super’ — instead, he posed what proved to be a compelling question: what if this were real? Sure, it’s hardly Ken Loach’s Batman (though we’d pay to see that: about a Hackney bat-wrangler with anger issues), but Nolan bends more rules of physics than he breaks, with his heart focused on the heart of Bruce Wayne: a child traumatised by the murder of his parents and raised with a rage he cannot quench. Rises asks other probing questions: Can you redeem without sacrifice? Can revenge bring peace? What the bloody hell is Tom Hardy saying?

Actually, the preview footage palaver about Bane’s babble is largely irrelevant: he may sound like Sir Ian McKellen gargling meths in a wind tunnel, but the verbal clarity of the masked, muscled monster is never as important as his brute bulk (though he does have some memorable vocal barbs). Hardy looks like he could have played the Hulk — with a CG Bruce Banner — and is more than convincing as the man who could break the Bat. For the first time, perhaps ever, you really worry for Batman, with his armoured suit unable to disguise a relative physical frailty, his body worn down by years of putting it in the literal line of fire for the citizens of Gotham.

Bane is not fuelled simply by whatever pumps through his mask, either, as Alfred (Michael Caine) observes: “I see the power of belief.” The Wayne family butler has acted as his master’s conscience throughout the films and he’s at it again here, challenging the bruised billionaire about what he could achieve if he sought social justice instead of rough. Indeed, there’s a sense that Wayne has regressed back to the boy of Begins, his journey out of the grief of his orphaning reset by the death of his childhood love.

As Gotham prospers in the wake of the criminal crackdown brought about by the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent — and his mythologising by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) — Wayne feels he can stay hidden in his mansion, a truculent Beast resisting being transformed by Marion Cotillard’s Beauty. Where his parents were active, engaged philanthropists, giving life to the city, Wayne nurses only his own grief. He walks with a stick as symbolic of his psychological frailty as his physical degeneration. Here, the film could be said to be going over old ground, but Wayne’s mental fissure has been mined in the comics for 73 years and it’s testament to Christian Bale’s stalwart, admirably unshowy but soulful performance that we once again feel for a man born to privilege but eternally trapped in a personal prison.

This is aided by a valedictory feel to the first act, with everything freighted with the knowledge of its finality and a sense that this will not end well. Caine is all heart in a beautiful recollection about his hopes for his surrogate son, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt — who looks supremely dashing despite a somewhat glamour-free role as a rozzer — also has a sorrow-fuelled speech, but with a more positive sense of belief to counter Bane’s destructive faith.

Then, when Batman finally returns, you relish the gleeful comment of a copper to a younger colleague: “Boy, you are in for a show tonight, son.” That you are, even if the film doesn’t, until the very end, match the emotional tenor of its blistering beginning. That 45 minutes or so can be called the ‘beginning’ gives a clue that Batman not only rises but lengthens. This is a long film that feels weighed down somewhat in its middle section, struggling to carry the weight of exposition. The desire for scale and belief-beggaring action also means that, curiously, what would be other movies’ budget-blitzing conclusions are reduced, in a way, to the level of mild incident. There is more plot here than there is story and as impressive as certain scenes are — the sporting spectacle seen in the trailer, for example — they can feel a little like a very exspensive treadmill when you’re waiting for the emotions to really run.

As ever, Nolan’s Batman is at its best in the more intimate moments — whether it’s a man finally realising a hero’s identity, or the scene- (and jewellery-) stealing introduction of a new character. As slinky burglar Selina Kyle, Anne Hathaway is superb: physically dangerous, emotionally intriguing and sexy without milking it. (It’s a very different take from the Catwoman portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, but no less enjoyable.) As ambiguous as Kyle is, her journey shares with Wayne’s a sense of struggling for a fresh start, for a clean slate, ultimately for redemption.

Many of the best characters in the Batman universe offer a mirror to the man himself, whether walking that razor-wire between justice and revenge, or being trapped by the traumas of the past.

Dedicated fans of the comic books are unlikely to feel surprised by many story twists here, but that’s no surprise in itself given the DC icon’s extensive history. Another story strand feels a little familiar and may unconsciously reflect the director’s love of Bond (please, God, let him and Bale one day deliver 007), but it’s ideas, not schematics, that you will be mulling over afterwards. What’s impressive is how Nolan, his fellow story wrangler David S. Goyer and co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan have found a way to bring their Bat-cycle full circle without coasting — instead touching on our world within a comic-book context.

Where Avengers demolished New York with a glee unrivalled outside of a terrorist training camp, Rises takes turning Gotham into Gomorrah very seriously indeed. Nolan’s has been the Batman of the War On Terror and the credit crunch, made in an age where belief-driven crazies threatened world security (Osama bin Laden, George Bush) and men with nothing more than computers and a sense of entitlement destroyed arguably as many lives as thugs with guns. Rises plants seeds of sedition, questions the position of the financial elite and presents the plight of the 99 per cent. Even as the jeopardy ratchets and our position — as surrogate citizens, the people Batman has sworn to protect — is dire, Rises doesn’t forget to have some fun, with a pyrotechnical act that brings to mind Fight Club’s Project Mayhem. It’s this balance between sobriety and sensation that is Nolan’s most significant achievement throughout these films. Batman can easily play as either glum or camp — it takes a special talent to not just recognise his inherent absurdity and his inspirational power but also embrace them both: a talent with a taste for the theatrical.

With spectacle in abundance and sexiness in (supporting) parts, this is superhero filmmaking on an unprecedented scale. Rises may lack the surprise of Begins or the anarchy of Knight, but it makes up for that in pure emotion. A fitting epitaph for the hero Gotham deserves.

5 stars out of 5
Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises' closes out Nolan's trilogy with brains and bombast

"Are you so desperate to fight criminals that you'd lock yourself in so you can fight them one at a time?" - Ra's Al Ghul

So began "Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan's first Batman film. At the time, it felt unlike any film every attempted with these characters, and strikingly different from superhero cinema in general.

This trilogy is exactly that: three films that work as one, a story told in three movements, and with "The Dark Knight Rises," it seems that Nolan has finished out his time with this icon in the only way he could based on where it began. I would argue that his so-called "real world" approach has never been particularly realistic, but it has always felt plausible based on the rules that he establishes for his world. The first film starts with an angry billionaire climbing a mountain so he can join a ninja death cult. That's not exactly Errol Morris. But there is a sincerity, a sober direct quality to the way the fantastic is handled, that makes it all feel like it could happen, and that's an enormous gift that should not be discounted.

Look at the imagery in "Batman Begins" of Bruce looking up from the bottom of the well he fell into, the well he is rescued from by his father, who asks him, "Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can pick ourselves up." Then look at the imagery in "The Dark Knight Rises" of Bruce looking up from the bottom of a prison where he finds himself at a physical and emotional low during a second-act stretch of the film. They look identical. Bruce spends his whole life confronting the things that he fears. His mission to make Gotham safe is selfish from start to finish, a personal journey towards either destruction or salvation with no acceptable middle ground. The moment his mother and father are gunned down in that alley, he is on the path that will eventually bring him face to face with Bane (Tom Hardy), and it is a preordained Apocalypse. The moment Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) comforts that boy with a jacket around his shoulders, he is also locked into the dance, caught up in this fate. The moment Lucius Fox turns on the lights in the Applied Sciences storage rooms, he's caught. For Rachel, for Harvey Dent, for Alfred Pennyworth… for everyone in Bruce Wayne's orbit, there is only one way this story can possibly play out once Bruce is damaged in the first place. The clock has always been ticking for Bruce Wayne. The shadow of death hangs over this entire series, and while I think it is a great film, an impressive film, "The Dark Knight Rises" is a film I cannot easily describe in terms of fun.

Some people want fun from their comic book characters, and I don't fault them for that. There are incarnations of Batman, both in print and on film, that I think perfectly mine the potential fun from the premise. Nolan wasn't after that, though. Instead, he decided to explore the madness that would drive anyone to wear a rubber suit and face death every night, and what it would take to heal someone so profoundly broken. And by following that one idea through these three films, he's created my own personal favorite interpretation of the character on film so far. Is it the ultimate Batman, the best anyone can ever do? Nope. I'm not sure there could be such a thing. One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the character is that it's so limber, and it can survive re-interpretation for many reasons and in many ways.

Jonathan Nolan and his brother are co-credited with the script, and David Goyer shares a story credit, and I'm curious to see what people think of the tale they've crafted. It is the most overtly comic-book of the three films, and I think when you look at this one and you see how it ties the three films together, you'll agree that this is not out of line with what came before, but rather a logical extension. It may also be the least subtle of the three films, but I think that's okay. These movies aren't really about quiet discourse. These are big, broad, bombastic statements, and each one has grappled with a different theme while tracing the development of Bruce Wayne's bizarre obsession. In the first film, Bruce had to find the method he would use to fight the darkness. In the second film, he had to deal with the escalating madness that erupted from his efforts. And now, in this final film, he has to decide which is more important: his life, or the symbol he has created.

And before anyone yells at me about ruining anything, I'm being exceptionally careful here. I'll be running a "Second Look" piece, as I did with "Prometheus" and "The Amazing Spider-Man," once the film has been out for a few days, and at that point, we can discuss all the details in the film. For now, I'll just say that "The Prestige" remains the most personal film of Nolan's character, a mission statement of sorts, and even if you think you've got "The Dark Knight Rises" figured out based on things you've heard, you probably don't. Considering how familiar so many of these films are in terms of story structure, I loved the feeling when I reached the halfway point of this film and realized I had no idea how they were going to wrap things up. And even once things started to fall into place and things start to take on a certain inevitability, it is done with such control, such confidence, that there is a pleasure that comes from watching it all play out.

One of the things that has made this series work has been the casting of pretty much every key role, and that continues here. Anne Hathaway's interpretation of Selina Kyle, known best as Catwoman to most fans, is indelible, a strong and savvy match for Bruce Wayne, and instead of just being a flip-side mirror to him as she often is portrayed, she is instead presented here as the masked and angry face of the forgotten and the poor, justified in whatever she does because of the way life has treated her. She would have been enough of a character to support an entire film, but Nolan uses her as one part of the thesis of the movie, with Bane, the strange terrorist played by Tom Hardy, as the blunt instrument that drives the point home. Bane's plan to bring Gotham to its knees is elaborate and, once revealed, somewhat horrifying. He is not simply a rehash of the Joker, who was more of a force of chaos than anything. Bane is evil. He is unrelenting, unquestioning, destructive evil. He has no goal other than pain and horror and death, and he represents the first truly irresistible force that Batman has encountered.

Another new cast member is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who provides a normal person's view of the events of the first two films, since he was a young man growing up in Gotham during the ascent of the Batman. He is a cop now, a sincerely good officer who catches the attention of Jim Gordon (Oldman) as Gordon is struggling to cope with the emotional guilt of the lie that he and Batman told eight years earlier at the death of Harvey Dent. Batman's been gone that entire time, and John Blake (Gordon-Levitt) wants to understand what happened and why, and he believes Gordon has those answers. Marion Cotillard is also a new addition to the cast as Miranda Tate, and she seems to represent a new opportunity for Bruce to connect to someone, a chance for him to build a life outside of Gotham. She does strong work with a tough role, and she has several moments that are impressively nuanced.

Gotham has always been a major character in the Nolan films, and that's true here as well. As appropriate as "The Dark Knight Rises" ends up being as a title, I think "Gotham City" would have been equally fitting. Using numerous cities to stand in as Gotham is clever, because it ends up feeling like every city, even though it has several characteristics that don't tie to any one location. In this film, the city becomes the final battle ground for Bruce Wayne's soul, his body, and his sanity, and he is pushed harder than ever before. Nolan seems to believe that a lie in service of something good is still a lie, and it's been festering. Every bad decision Bruce Wayne has made since the start of this series comes back to haunt him in this film, and fans would be advised to watch both of the earlier films to see how everything ties together. Bale's performance here is miles different than his work in either of the other films. In "Batman Begins," there is a boyish inexperience, and I like the material where he's figuring out this new identity for himself. Even though "The Dark Knight" is very dark at times, there's an exuberance to Bruce as he comes into his own, and he seems driven, pleased to have found a purpose. In this film, a sorrow has settled onto him, and even when he is suited up and in action, he barely seems like a shadow of the man he used to be. He's rotting from the inside, knowing full well what his actions have cost the people around him. He is dying because of the loss of Rachel in "The Dark Knight," and he doesn't seem to know how he can heal at all. The end of the first film, when Rachel confronts him about his identity, offers Bruce his one way out of things, and much of "The Dark Knight" deals with his struggle to take that escape route and what happens when it's taken from him forever. In this new film, he has no more hope, no more heart, and it makes him just as dangerous as Bane, but to himself more than anyone else.

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman have become the de facto fathers to Bruce at this point, and their work as Alfred and Lucius in this film is just as strong as it's been throughout the series. I really like the way these characters have been defined in the films, and I think these actors have done tremendous work bringing warmth and heart to roles that could easily have been excuses for exposition. And if you're looking for bastions of class and dignity to be mentor figures, you couldn't do much better than those two. Oldman is excellent as the tormented Gordon, and at this point, I don't care how he does or doesn't compare to earlier print versions of the character. This Jim Gordon intrigues me, and it's a real role, with a complex heart. He loses at least as much as Bruce over the course of the series, and he does it without the safety of a secret identity or the resources of the Batman. He may see himself as morally compromised, but the film definitely sees him as a human scaled hero.

The technical side of things is sharper than ever before, and if this really is the last film that Wally Pfister shoots, he's going out in style. Even more of this film was shot with IMAX cameras than "The Dark Knight," and it makes for some breathtaking visual moments that match the emotional impact of the film's operatic final act. Hans Zimmer's work here is brutal, percussive, borderline crazy. It feels like things are starting to shake to pieces, like the entire world is about to implode. I found the final movement of the film, a good thirty minutes or so, almost unbearably emotional, and I think it may be the best stretch in any of the films. There are some logic issues I have with parts of the film, and we'll get into those in the "Second Look," but there is a clean, uncompromised emotional arc that steamrolls those problems for me, and I think the film more than fulfills the promise made by the first two films.

We may never see superhero films quite like these again, and that's fine. Nolan had something special to say with his time in the trenches, and he's ended on his own terms. I suspect that the reaction to the film will be hotly divided, but I'm firmly on the side that this is a triumph, a victory for all involved, and one of the year's most impressive efforts so far in any genre, on any subject. "The Dark Knight Rises" confirms that these films have always had an endgame in mind, and it has been a remarkable ride, one I would not want to follow. Whoever Warner Bros hires to reboot the "Batman" films a few years from now, I wish you luck. The bar is as high as it could possibly be.

Review: Visceral 'The Dark Knight Rises' Is A Cinematic, Cultural & Personal Triumph

In a season filled with big movies that somehow ask even bigger questions, “The Dark Knight Rises” feels like the superego to its competition’s id. An action opus that manages at to be both viscerally and intellectually engaging, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated third Batman film comes full circle, examining both the Dark Knight and the society that produced him without sacrificing any of the sweeping thrills for which the series is known. A literate, thoughtful and invigorating finale, “The Dark Knight Rises” delivers everything audiences ask for and then some, albeit in fewer of the ways that they might expect.

Eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, limping around his estate because of injuries sustained as Batman, while the public speculates about his sanity. Although Bruce is happy to let the rumor mill keep turning, his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) informs him that Wayne Enterprises is in major financial trouble, thanks in no small part to a clean-energy research project which Bruce spearheaded and then mothballed. But when a masked, monolithic terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) empties the Wayne coffers and launches a populist uprising using an underworld of thieves and criminals, Bruce is forced to don the cape and cowl again to try and restore order, even as Gotham remains convinced that Batman was responsible for the death of late district attorney-turned-psychopath Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).

Looking piecemeal at “The Dark Knight Rises,” it feels like a movie of profound disillusionment about America that could only be objectively told by someone who’s not a native: Nolan dissects our current financial woes, our clash of cultures, even one-percent-versus-99-percent-style class warfare with a scalpel, assigning culpability to all involved and condemning the whole system as a sort of demagogue-exchange program. From the corporate fat cats to the mouth breathers scraping by on pennies, everyone aspires to change their situation, to triumph over the forces of (sometimes rightful) opposition, or to wipe the slate clean and start again, and their motives are almost unilaterally unclean – either in motive or execution. The film should have its own Faustian bargain counter in the corner of the screen, ticking off bad decisions and foolhardy expectations.

Moreover, Bane more or less distills the status quo of America into a few depressingly succinct ideas, which form the basis of his plans: fuel his followers with a sense of fear, incite them to anger by suggesting betrayal, allow them the pretense of hope, and they will become believers. He leads with a combination of ruthless control and facetious empowerment, keeping his minions under his thumb and turning Gotham into a battleground for revolution – but only for his nefarious purposes. The concept of turning citizenship against its own interests is nothing new, but Nolan makes it frighteningly palpable in this fictional setting without undermining the real-world implications of this sort of manipulation.

But oddly, the film ultimately proves to be not just a redemption tale for virtually all of these characters, but an embodiment of the fundamental American belief in the individual. Although its deep bench of recognizable talent and a story with an incredible variety of moving parts suggests the necessity for cooperation – a well-oiled machine whose parts all work together towards a common goal – Nolan allows almost every “important” character an opportunity to shine, to distinguish him or herself. As the hero himself has said numerous times in all of the films, “Batman can be anyone,” but the point Nolan seems to be making is that he can be any one – even working within a system that requires the cooperation and coordination of others, a person can still distinguish himself with an act of intelligence, sensitivity, leadership, or yes, heroism.

In terms of the film’s devotion to canon, meanwhile, fans should be more than satisfied by Nolan’s treatment of familiar storylines – especially those whose conclusions probably come as little surprise (although they won’t be spoiled here). Perhaps most importantly, the caped crusader remains the root of the entire ensemble, and unlike in past films – okay, the previous “Batman” series -- never takes a back seat to his adversaries. And it’s his troubles that provide the foundational themes for the rest of the characters, and the story as a whole: after eight years of inactivity, Bruce is convinced that he’s neither able to save Gotham nor redeem himself, no matter how desperately he wants to. Bane wants to fulfill the destiny of Ra’s Al Ghul – which was thoroughly detailed in “Batman Begins” -- which means enabling Gotham to destroy itself and rebuild atop the rubble. And Selina Kyle is a criminal desperate for a fresh start, but unable to find a legitimate way to seek redemption.

As both Batman and Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale’s work here is master-class, and he gives the character such an inescapable melancholy – a certain perseverance in the face of absolute resignation to his fate – that he becomes a more tragic figure than ever. That said, he’s aided enormously by a never-better Michael Caine, who turns with hope and palpable love what might otherwise be expository dialogue into searing, supportive criticisms of Wayne’s self-destruction. And even as sexed-up and skintight as Michelle Pfeiffer’s charms were in “Batman Returns,” Nolan’s Catwoman is the best cinematic rendering of the character to date, allowing Anne Hathaway sex appeal, humor and real humanity in equal measures, not to mention motivation that places her on equal footing with her male counterparts without making her a fetish object who’s ultimately subject to them.

On the other hand, after being marketed as heir to the Joker in "The Dark Knight," Tom Hardy’s Bane is a different sort of villain – a focused and more ideologically-developed version of Heath Ledger’s anarchist – but one with equally ruthless charm. After brutally taking control of a building, he surveys his hostages, and offers one of them an almost-friendly “what’s up” nod. As many obstacles as Bane faces as a compelling character – chief of them being his face covered almost entirely, and constantly, by a mask which also obscures much of his dialogue – Hardy juxtaposes an almost jaunty vocal intonation with a sort of monolithic, chilling stillness, creating a villain worthy of the series’ rogue’s gallery without making him purely redundant.

It should be interesting to see precisely how the film translates to home video given the number of times within a scene the frame switches from IMAX to a traditional film format, but cinematically the film is gorgeous, meticulously constructed and seemingly effortless in execution, even with so many moving parts racing towards what is ultimately a both narratively and thematically cohesive finale. More importantly, however, is how it fits into the summer’s conversation about the Big Important Issues that are preoccupying us, even when we’re walking into darkened theaters and asking only to be entertained.
If, as Badass Digest argues, “The Avengers” “defeated irony and cynicism,” then “The Dark Knight Rises” feels like the rock-bottom, lowest-point examination of ourselves which provides the substance to make Joss Whedon’s optimistic vision endure. Because Nolan’s film is a reminder that superheroes aren’t merely a frivolous distraction, or even a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but an embodiment of our best selves – or at least what we want our best selves to be. A cinematic, cultural and personal triumph, “The Dark Knight Rises” is emotionally inspiring, aesthetically significant and critically important for America itself – as a mirror of both sober reflection and resilient hope. [A]

Easily one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, the thought of seeing Christopher Nolan's final step in remodeling Batman for modern day audiences could very well be an overwhelming experience if one doesn't go into it with slightly tempered expectations. Being another movie where the biggest twists could be carelessly spoiled by inconsiderate critics, we'll do our best to not be one of them.

Taking place quite a bit after "The Dark Knight," one can almost feel the pressures of Nolan trying to recreate the magic of that movie using a similar formula to introduce the villain in the first six minutes before it gets into the struggle of Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne to get back on his feet after being away for seven years. That's just fine as long as you don't mind a Batman movie where we don't see Batman for a good 40 minutes, but Bale and Nolan have done such a good job establishing their version of Bruce Wayne as a definitive one, it's perfectly acceptable they chose to take a slower approach in setting up a story that throws a lot Bruce's way.

Rather than drawing from the comics, Nolan instills real world issues into his Gotham City with a conflict that forays into corporal punishment, the stock exchange and ideas for sustainable energy--all things we might regularly read about in the papers, which either will make the situations more relatable or will have you rolling your eyes at having politics mixed in with your entertainment. Making a story that revolves around the distinction between Gotham's haves and have nots—something that's permeating many works of fiction right now--may seem fairly hypocritical for a filmmaker who is probably living as comfortably as Bruce Wayne by now.

Trying to pile so many ideas into the first hour leads to an incredibly convoluted plot set-up that's all over the place as it introduces new characters like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's police officer, whose first meeting with Wayne seems as forced as his later romance with Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate, something that comes from out of left field and may not have been necessary. It takes a long time for the existence and purposes of these characters to become clear, making the first half of the movie that much more frustrating.

To be honest, Bane has never been the greatest Batman villain. To some older readers, he represents a time in comic books that was fairly devoid creatively and was more about selling as many comic books as possible through "event storytelling." Tom Hardy's Bane is a far more developed concept, a violent beast of a man with brains to match his physicality, certainly worthy of the Batman movie universe and a more formidable physical foe compared to the Joker or Scarecrow. It's fairly obvious Christopher Nolan threw out the idea of using the comics as any sort of reference long ago--the direct correlations to them can be counted on one hand--but he's created a decent origin for Bane that ties into some of the ideas introduced in previous movies while not completely ignoring the comics. The character's voice is pretty distracting though--he's understandable enough, but the accent and proper English inflection just doesn't seem like what one would expect from a child born and raised in an underground prison.

Anne Hathaway plays one of the more alluring Catwomen since Julie Newmar, creating an incredibly complex character that straddles the line of good and bad enough that you never know whose side she's on. Hathaway sometimes takes on a similarly affected way of delivering lines as Bale's Batman when in costume, but neither of the "villains" ever can quite live up to what the late Heath Ledger brought to the Joker. Similarly, it never feels like Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine are trying very hard in their roles as Bruce Wayne's support group, countered by solid performances from Matthew Modine and the underrated Ben Mendelsohn from "Animal Kingdom."

As one might expect, the film looks fantastic with Nolan's trusted team delivering another fantastic film. That said, it's disappointing that Gotham City has moved even further away from being the stylized city from the comics, now looking exactly like Manhattan with Nolan's team doing very little to mask obvious landmarks and street signs. While it allows for some great panoramic establishing shots that take full advantage of the larger IMAX screens, some of the decision on when to switch to IMAX footage isn't particularly consistent and some of the earlier non-vehicle-related fight scenes certainly don't benefit from the larger format.

Fortunately, many of these issues are at least partially forgotten once Bane finally emerges in the Gotham daylight and we see the scope of his master plan to terrorize Gotham City. We won't say much about it--imagine the Joker's coup de grace on a much larger level--but it's not exactly the most original one and some may be disappointed by how closely this terrorist plot mirrors "Batman Begins" especially by cutting off Gotham's bridge system. Then again, this is also when things starts to get cooking in the way we've come to expect from Nolan with the larger scale action scenes involving the tricked-out Batpod and a new flying vehicle called simply The Bat being quite fantastic.

Fortunately, Nolan also figures out a convincing way to wrap everything up in a nice bow, making one feel like he's created a bonafide Batman story in three movies that can stand up on its own merits completely separate from the comics or any previous incarnations.

The Bottom Line:
The story isn't quite as solid as "The Dark Knight" and the main villains aren't quite as memorable, but having a director with such a strong vision and conviction to fulfill it makes Nolan's Batman finale pay off at least as a bookend to "Batman Begins" even if it may require quite a bit more patience than both previous films.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Total Film Review


Luckily for everyone, there aren't many points of comparison between The Dark Knight Rises and Batman & Robin. But Christopher Nolan's epic and Joel Schumacher's epic fail do share something: scenes where you truly feel the love between Bruce Wayne and his ever-faithful butler Alfred.

Of course, Nolan's are a bit more understated. But they're the heart of the film, in a film with heart - not necessarily the first virtue you associate with the bedazzling Brit.

And yet, gruff, gritty and gothic though it is, TDKR may bring a lump to your throat that isn't popcorn-related. Its chief summer challenger Avengers Assemble may have bigger zingers, but this has one thing Whedon missed: emotional engagement; a genuine sense of jeopardy; deepening human drama. (OK, three things.)

Meanwhile, it also breaks from the Nolan norm in getting to grips with key, charismatic characters who aren't all blokes.

But before we let the cat out the bag, we want to make something clear: this is a Batman movie that's all about Batman. Where the previous chapter ceded the spotlight to Heath Ledger's movie-thieving Joker, this shifts it back on to Bruce as he faces his toughest mission yet: retirement.

"There's nothing out there for me," he mopes, eight years into self-exile following the dark night he took the rap for DA Harvey Dent's crimes.

Holed up in a rebuilt Wayne Manor and hollowed out, this is the most adrift we've seen the character on screen. (He's going grey, too.) Weighing a return to action against taking a new path, Bruce and Alfred debate Batman's future in tense, tender exchanges. You're hooked, and the fighting hasn't even started.

After a Bondian skyjack opening already familiar to Imax viewers of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Nolan goes small and noiry, a case of stolen pearls opening the door to deadlier misdemeanours. Before long, the movie's massive.

The director and his co-writer/younger sib Jonathan have cooked up their most ambitious scheme yet, bunging faith, idealism, social revolution (via Charles Dickens!) and a combustible crisis that could backbone an entire season of 24 into the blender.

As the scale and stakes balloon, Nolan maintains taut control; if anything the storytelling coheres sharper than The Dark Knight. The trick lies in holding fast to what he - and we - care most about: the cost to a (Bat)man's body and soul. This time, it's painfully personal.

Lest this all sound itchily introspective, rest assured: there's a ridiculous amount of cool **** here. "Boy, you are in for a show tonight," drools a fat copper as the Bat-pod burns back onto Gotham's streets, new tricks up its wheels.

There's also a rumbling return for the Tumbler(s), plus magnificent flying machine The Bat. Fanciful but functional, the latter's a winged symbol of what's best about Nolan's Bat-verse: the intelligently heightened realism that lets us buy the idea of a city enslaved by a half-naked muscle-man in an S&M mask. Particularly when he's played by Tom Hardy, whose Bane is a virile mix of brawn, brains and Brian Blessed (those filtered vocals proving mostly legible).

A bit camp? Wait till you see the fists of fury he lays on Bats in the film's smarting centrepiece.

The other new recruit from the costumed canon, Anne Hathaway's cat-burglar Selina Kyle (never referred to as Catwoman, unless our ears deceive us), also strays from kitsch. She's a bundle of spiky fun though - not a tragic misfit a la Michelle Pfeiffer, but a wily grifter nuanced enough in Hathaway's hands not to seem like she's just there to add a sexual frisson. Though she does that, too.

Top to toe, it's an ace ensemble, no one forgettable even if on screen for seconds here and there (hello, Matthew Modine). Joseph Gordon-Levitt essays solid, un-dull decency as honest cop John Blake, while Bruce's holy trinity of father figures - Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and moist-eyed Michael Caine - are at their warmest and sagest.

And Christian Bale? Never more vulnerable, likeable or willing to get his gloves dirty, pushing to new emotional depths for his final Gotham go-around.

And yes, it is The End, a resounding resolution for what Batman Begins begun. Threads from that film are picked up, lengthened and strengthened, bringing a staunch integrity - in every sense - to the overall arc.

Is it perfect? Factor in some clunky catch-up exposition near the start, a cringey log-fire love scene and moments where Hans Zimmer's score nearly foghorns the actors off the screen and the answer's no.

An even bigger question: is it up there with The Dark Knight? Not quite. The Joker in the pack still gives part two the edge. But there's no shame in coming second to Nolan's Michael Mann with masks masterpiece.

And rather than replaying it in your head, you'll be busy agog at Wally Pfister's cinematography (the harsh beauty of the city under snow); the seamless interweave of genres (police thriller, disaster movie, psychodrama); how Nolan implies brutality without riling the censor; or the equally sly way he slips in possibly controversial elements from the Bat-mythos without risking outrage.

Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Blade: Trinity… third time's often the harm for superhero movies. Not on Nolan's watch.


A smart, stirring spectacle that faces down impossible expectations to pull off a hugely satisfying end to business. Boy, you’re in for a show tonight…
None of this is to say that The Dark Knight Rises is a perfect film. It is certainly the best of the superhero movies this summer, mature in a way that Amazing Spider-man could become, and making the amusing, showy burlesque of The Avengers look as minor as it is. TDKR is too long, getting lost a little in the 2nd act, throwing so many things (including cameos) at the wall that the best of the new ideas can get less love than they deserve. But once the third act starts cooking, it pushes to the close with the best of the big movies.

The Dark Knight Rises is the movie a filmmaker makes after they have earned the freedom to break the mold and to reach for something bigger than the franchise. Some people love that. Some people hate that. I am in the former camp.
Variety Review


Few blockbusters have borne so heavy a burden of audience expectation as Christopher Nolan's final Batman caper, and the filmmaker steps up to the occasion with a cataclysmic vision of Gotham City under siege in "The Dark Knight Rises." Running an exhilarating, exhausting 164 minutes, Nolan's trilogy-capping epic sends Batman to a literal pit of despair, restoring him to the core of a legend that questions, and powerfully affirms, the need for heroism in a fallen world. If it never quite matches the brilliance of 2008's "The Dark Knight," this hugely ambitious action-drama nonetheless retains the moral urgency and serious-minded pulp instincts that have made the Warners franchise a beacon of integrity in an increasingly comicbook-driven Hollywood universe. Global B.O. domination awaits.

Even without the bonus of 3D, a technology Nolan has resolutely avoided while continuing to shoot in 35mm and 70mm, "The Dark Knight Rises" should continue the writer-director's commercial hot streak following "The Dark Knight" and "Inception." Pic's B.O. reign will be sustained in part by repeat attendance and Imax ticket premiums; 72 minutes of the film (roughly 40%) were lensed using super-high-res Imax cameras, representing the most extensive and sophisticated use of the giantscreen format in a studio picture.

Once again writing with his brother Jonathan from a tale conceived with David S. Goyer, Nolan has more story obligations than usual this time around. The result is a nearly three-hour yarn that draws on key plot points from "The Dark Knight" before bringing the trilogy full circle, back to the origin story of "Batman Begins," even as it ushers in a motley crew of villains and allies (not always easy to tell apart) inspired by Bob Kane's original comics, and pushes the citizens of Gotham into new realms of terror and mayhem.

Initially, at least, the city is enjoying a period of relative peace eight years after the disappearance of the outlawed vigilante known as Batman, presumed responsible for the death of beloved law-and-order figurehead Harvey Dent. Yet the deception continues to weigh heavily on Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne himself (Christian Bale), now a shut-in who spends his nights slinking, Hamlet-like, about the parapets of Wayne Manor.

While the ever-loyal Alfred (Michael Caine) supplies one of the series' emotional high points with a tender expression of love and concern for the man he's known since boyhood, it takes the intervention of several new characters for Wayne to return to public life. Two formidable women court his attentions: first Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), who's spearheading an important clean-energy initiative, then Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a wily cat burglar who skillfully robs the billionaire playboy, and later has the nerve to upbraid him for his obscene fortune. There's also John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a smart young cop who clings to his belief in Batman's goodness, and turns out to share some of Wayne's childhood traumas.

Yet the figure who decisively triggers Batman's re-emergence is Bane (Tom Hardy), a vicious mercenary introduced seizing control of an aircraft mid-flight in a bravura opening sequence (Hans Bjerno handled the stunning aerial photography). Wearing a steel-trap-like gas mask to neutralize the pain of unspeakable wounds, this bald, hulking brute is a former member of the League of Shadows, the same "gang of psychopaths" that gave Wayne his own basic training. For this reason, Bane is also the franchise's first major villain who turns out to be a physical match for Batman, something made brutally apparent in a pummeling scene of hand-to-hand, mask-to-mask combat.

The heavy artillery comes out just after the halfway point as Bane's men take advantage of a well-attended football game to turn Gotham into a terrorist stronghold. There's nothing particularly ingenious about their scheme (call it the Bane-ality of evil), which confronts audiences with the now-familiar spectacle of a city's apocalyptic destruction. Yet it's typical of Nolan's approach that his evocation of mass chaos feels so trenchantly detailed, so attuned to the crisis' human toll as glimpsed in the terrified faces of civilian onlookers.

As d.p. Wally Pfister's camera scans the war-torn island metropolis, viewers see not just buildings but social structures collapsing; anarchy ensues as prisoners are released en masse, and various legal, political and financial chieftains are made to answer for their alleged crimes against the underclass. All in all, the picture impressively conveys a seething vision of urban Anxiety that speaks to such issues as the greed and complacency of the 1%, the criminal neglect of the poor and oppressed, and above all the unsettling sense that no one and nothing is safe.

Nolan's previous Batman picture tapped into a similar vein of post-9/11 distress. Yet while "The Dark Knight Rises" raises the dramatic stakes considerably, at least in terms of its potential body count, it doesn't have its predecessor's breathless sense of menace or its demonic showmanship, and with the exception of one audacious sleight-of-hand twist, the story can at times seem more complicated than intricate, especially in its reliance on portentous exposition and geographically far-flung flashbacks.

Perhaps inevitably, one also feels the absence of a villain as indelible as Heath Ledger's Joker, although Hardy does make Bane a creature of distinct malevolence with his baroque speech patterns and rumbling bass tones, provoking a sort of lower-register duet when pitted against Batman's own voice-distorted growl (the sound mix rendered their dialogue mostly if not entirely intelligible at the screening attended).

In a more gratifying development, the film reasserts the primacy of its title character and the general excellence of Bale's performance, forcing Wayne to reckon once and for all with the alter ego he's fashioned for himself and Gotham in the name of justice. If the point is that only a state of total desperation can push a person to greatness, Nolan movingly acknowledges the limits of lone-ranger justice, as Selina, Miranda, Gordon, Blake and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Wayne's old friend and gadgets expert, come to play crucial and sometimes unexpected roles in the twisty drama.

Hardy, Gordon-Levitt and Cotillard, recruited for duty after their stints in "Inception," are all on their game here, blending easily in a supporting cast anchored by old pros Caine, Oldman and Freeman. Perhaps the riskiest casting choice was that of Hathaway in the potentially problematic role of Selina/Catwoman, but although her kitty outfit reps a slightly more cartoonish touch than Nolan's neo-noir aesthetic typically allows (if nowhere near as campy as those worn by Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer), the versatile actress nails the sardonic, hard-edged tone necessary to make this morally ambiguous vixen a dynamic foil for the Caped Crusader.

Production designers Nathan Crowley and Kevin Kavanaugh opt for a grittier, more working-class Gotham this time around, a fully inhabited city of rundown street corners, public-works offices, bombed-out bridges and fetid sewers. While Chicago served as a recognizable template in the earlier two pictures, the exterior city shots here were achieved in New York, Pittsburgh and especially Los Angeles, whose downtown serves as the backdrop for a thrilling Michael Mann-style street chase marked by the appearance of Wayne's latest vessel, a jet-helicopter hybrid known simply as the Bat.

Lee Smith's editing maintains tautness and energy over the estimable running time, and Hans Zimmer adds a few ivory-tickling grace notes to his magnificently brooding score, still one of the most striking and definitive elements of this altogether exemplary studio franchise.
Talk about a tough act to follow, but “The Dark Knight Rises” doesn’t just follow it; it tops it in almost every way, making it a guaranteed frontrunner for Best Picture. Where most trilogies end on a weak note (witness the likes of “Return of the Jedi” and “Spider-Man 3”), “The Dark Knight Rises” succeeds as an epic triumph that scales the rare heights of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” making it the crowning achievement of the Batman trilogy and the biggest, best, most exciting Batman of them all.


And though it’s hard to see how Nolan could top an epic like “The Dark Knight Rises,” I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it with his very next movie.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Review: Dark Knight Rises marks epic finish to Batman trilogy
James Wigney

THERE is only one word to describe The Dark Knight Rises - epic.

The stunning conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy proves that bigger can be better, with no holds barred as the hugely successful franchise ends with a very big bang.

Set eight years after the The Dark Knight, which was only recently overtaken by The Avengers as the most successful superhero movie of all time (and if advance buzz and the quality on offer here are any guide, the Caped Crusader may well snatch the record back), The Dark Knight Rises begins with Batman having long been declared an outlaw and garaged his Batmobile, and his alter ego billionaire Bruce Wayne now an eccentric recluse.

Still scarred by the loss of not only his parents as a child but also the love of his life, Batman wants nothing to do with his beloved Gotham City, which is enduring a period of peace and prosperity as a result of his heroic sacrifices.

But after a lengthy and convoluted set-up, the status quo is shattered by the appearance of a mysterious masked terrorist known only as Bane, who is hell-bent on reducing the city to ashes and will stop at nothing to see it destroyed.

For a Batman movie, there is surprisingly little seen of the famous suit for long stretches of the film, but rarely does it suffer.

Rather it gives the ever-reliable Christian Bale time to explore the dark forces that led him to become a vigilante as well as giving other members of the stellar cast a chance to shine.

Regulars Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return as Alfred the butler, Commissioner Gordon and gadgets man Lucius Fox respectively, with Caine, in particular, in outstanding form as Wayne's surrogate father torn apart by the unravelling of his charge. The new faces are equally impressive.

The role of wisecracking jewel thief Selina Kyle - aka Catwoman - fits Anne Hathaway almost as well as her skin-tight latex suit and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard shines as potential love interest Miranda Tate.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is equally impressive as an idealistic young cop on the rise and Aussie Ben Mendelsohn bobs up in a small but crucial role as a scumbag corporate raider.

Actor of the moment Tom Hardy, as the main villain Bane, had some very big clown shoes to fill by following Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning turn in The Dark Knight, but bulked up and hidden behind a metal mask, he is mesmerising.

If The Dark Knight was a gangster movie at heart, the sequel is fundamentally a war movie, as Bane and his cohorts take over the city, willing its inhabitants to wrestle it back from the powerful and corrupt and begin a new world order.

The action sequences escalate accordingly, with some spectacular car chases and fight scenes morphing into pitched street battles, with spectacular aerial scenes, which look even more impressive with more than an hour of IMAX footage.

Both Nolan and Bale say its their last hurrah in the Batman world, and if so, its a more than fitting send-off, neatly bringing together strands first explored in the 2005 first chapter in the reboot, Batman Begins. But you can't keep a good superhero down or put the brakes on a Box office juggernaut and there are enough twists and turns and loose ends to keep audiences salivating for more.


The Dark Knight Rises

“The Dark Knight Rises” is both cerebral and majestic, with Nolan bringing the Batman full-circle with references to the first two movies, thus unleashing a perfect bookend to his “Dark Knight” trilogy.

Intelligent and thrilling, the must-watch film reaches new cinematic heights for the Batman as it proves to be the best movie of the three—yes, even better than “The Dark Knight.”

Nolan’s final Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” is an epic and triumphant conclusion to the Batman saga that shines brightly even from the darkest shadows.
Christopher Nolan’s eagerly-awaited “The Dark Knight Rises,” the third and final chapter in the epic franchise that began a decade ago, is the most thrilling and satisfying spectacle this summer.
In helming the film, Nolan utilized IMAX cameras even more extensively than he did on “The Dark Knight,” which had marked the first time that a major feature film was even partially shot with the large-format cameras. Quite impressively, about half of the new picture is shot with large-format IMAX film cameras.
World premiering on July 20, “Dark Knight Rises” is presented on 70-millimeter film in 102 IMAX 15/70mm locations worldwide. I highly recommend that, if possible, you watch this supremely mounted picture in IMAX.
One of the most ambitious and gifted directors working in Hollywood today, Nolan has set his aims high for the conclusion of the “Batman” saga, spending time, energy, and other resources on developing a shapely narrative, which benefits from a dozen sharply etched characterizations.
End result is a massive, supremely mounted fantasy-action-adventure that fulfills expectations in every department, narrative, visual, emotional, and even socio-political. “Dark Knight Rises” is the kind of movie that only Hollywood can make, one that gives mainstream (dominant) cinema a good name—domestically and globally.
Unlike Nolan’s previous feature, “Ïnception,” which might have been too complex (and convoluted) for its own good, with dreams within dreams and often uneasy transitions from the conscious to the subconscious and unconscious levels, “Dark Knight Rises” has a simpler, shapelier, and more grounded narrative.
The screenplay, credited to Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, based on the story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, is a darkly satirical film noir, rich with ideas and characters.
For a Hollywood movie, especially one based on a comic strip, the narrative contains an extraordinary number of characters—over a dozen–most of which are individually developed and fully realized by the talented ensemble, which includes three generations of actors, from vets like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman to newcomers to the series like Marion Cotillard.
For those who need a reminder, the last words spoken by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) at the end of 2008′s “The Dark Knight” were: “Batman is the hero Gotham deserves but not the one it needs right now.”
The last, truly scary chapter, in large measure due to Heath Ledger’s seminal performance, which revolved around the Joker, set in motion a fateful conspiracy that labeled Batman a murderer and Harvey Dent—who died, unbeknownst to the public, as the vengeful Two-Face—a crime-fighting crusader who paid the ultimate price. As a result, Gotham City enacted tough new laws that put criminals behind bars or drove them beyond Gotham’s borders.
Which raises the politically relevant question, especially in this presidential elections year, of what kind of heroes society needs and deserves (it’s not the same thing, as the story makes clear), and also how heroes are created and then embraced, trusted, and supported by ordinary citizens.
The new tale is set almost a decade after “The Dark Knight.” More precisely, it’s been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive.
Guilt-ridden, he assumes the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent. He’s frustrated too, for the cost and price were high: Dark Knight feels that he had sacrificed everything he had—and his considerable talents and skills–for what he and Commissioner Gordon hoped was the greater good, the collective welfare of the citizenship.
But, alas, the rewards to the hard work were only felt in the short run. For a time, the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. However, things change dramatically wit the arrival of a cunning cat burglar, committed (in more senses than one) to a mysterious agenda.
There’s more bad news: Far more dangerous to Gotham and its populace is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans finally drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. Bane is a considerable foe, and Bruce is aware that even if he dons the cape and cowl again, he may be no easy match for Bane.
Despite the large number of characters, the focus of the story is on one haunted, angry, flawed man, Bruce/Batman, and his continuous, shifty journey, which often throws his life out of control.
The right actor for the right part: With his soulful eyes (when you see them), Bale plays the role as a tragic hero, a man who wants to feel “useful” again, and in the process find out who he really is, and realize his full potential.
As noted, when the story begins, he has lost the one thing that gave him a purpose and a meaning—that is until a new threat facing him and the whole city in the form of the ruthlessly merciless, also masked Bane, who makes his presence known to the citizens of Gotham with an explosive display of power.
As far as villains of the “Batman” series go, while the Scarecrow was an incredible madman and the Joker a frightening anarchist, Bane is a terrorist in both his mentality and his actions.
Strong, intelligent, and handsome, Tom Hardy plays Batman’s arch-nemesis in a way that’s both physically and psychologically intimidating, thus making the menace that he represents all the more realistic and dangerous.
Despite risks (and temptations) to turn the final chapter into a massive special-effects driven spectacle, the filmmakers maintain an admirable balance between thrilling action set-pieces and more intimate emotions, which are a result of the various interactions among the characters.
Brilliantly crafted and meticulously edited (shot by shot, bric a bric), “Dark Knight Rises” is a savvy, mature entertainment by filmmakers who know that, ultimately, what matters are not the number and size of explosions, but the moral, professional, and personal dilemmas of the protagonists.
Serious minded but not pretentious, morally urgent but not preachy, “Dark Knight Rises” is a rare summer blockbuster, one that provokes viewers of all ages, not just children and teenagers, to reflect on broader social problems of post-modern society.
By comparison, “The Avengers” (and other Marvel comic strip pictures) seems frivolous, childish, and sill, even though it’s well made and vastly entertaining. When you watch “The Avengers,” you felt as if the characters and actors who play them didn’t take themselves seriously–they were winking at the audience.
“Dark Knight Rises” asks the viewers to be taken more seriously, and it surely deserves it.

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