The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Well, that’s the end of THAT. And…it’s a pretty satisfying (and entertaining) conclusion to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Christopher Nolan has nicely crafted a film that solidly links to the events of the previous two movies while also expanding upon them. In case you’re one of the 5 people out there who don’t know the story: 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight (2008), Bruce Wayne has become a Howard Hughes-like recluse who has turned his back on his alternate persona out of grief and frustration, as well as being wanted for the alleged murder of District Attorney Harvey Dent. He crosses paths with master thief Selina Kyle (aka The Cat) mid burglary and becomes intrigued by her skill and daring. Meanwhile, a muscle-bound mercenary named Bane has emerged from the wood work with nefarious and ‘revolutionary’ plans for Gotham City. Violence and mayhem ensue. Now…to be fair…I have to admit that The Dark Knight Rises is NOT perfect. The narrative, at times, is clunky and there are sections that seem to drag, especially in the 2nd act. There are also some ridiculous plot holes and lapses in logic, but the presentation is nice enough to ease the obviousness of the flaws. The cast, as with the others, is top notch. Christian Bale seems the most comfortable as Wayne in this one, as a large portion of the flick is dedicated to his dilemmas and the lingering effects of his past choices and the emotional (and physical) damage they’ve done to him. Anne Hathaway is a surprise as Catwoman (despite never being called that). Her portrayal of Selina Kyle is a humanistic ‘breath of fresh air’ and managed to give Hathaway a certain depth that I didn’t think she possessed. Tom Hardy was more of a presence than a character but his imposing screen persona had some inspired moments of ‘humanity’ to it, despite being literally incomprehensible at times. Gary Oldman returns to play Gordon, only this time around there’s an almost Indiana Jones-like quality to the Commisioner as this is the most physical that we’ve seen the character. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine reprise their roles seamlessly while newcomers Marion Cottilard and Joseph Gordon Levitt lend themselves nicely to the proceedings, adding to the well-timed twists and turns of the story. There are also a couple of great (and most welcome) cameos harking back to the previous films on display here as well. This being a Batman flick, I need to make mention of the action sequences. As with the previous two films, Nolan tries to do as much of the action ‘practically’ as is possible; a choice that I admire and wish that more filmmakers would emulate. There are some stand-outs, like the (obviously) Cliffhanger-inspired air-to-air hijack sequence or the multiple desperate, multi-vehicle chases through downtown Gotham. There are also some breathtakingly ‘large’ shots detailing destruction throughout the city when things are at their worst (love them bridges!), nice long ‘takes’ that just let us look at what’s happening. Technically, this movie succeeds pretty much everywhere. I think that the story could have benefitted from a slight trimming of the script but, truth be told, the pieces do all work…just not always as gracefully as they could have. At the end of the day, the Dark Knight trilogy is something of a triumph now that the last, well-crafted piece has fallen into place. Any fan of the previous two films owes it to themselves to see this one as well…and the big screen is worth it.

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