Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
164 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Grade: A-

If there were great expectations for the sequel to “Batman Begins,” there are even greater expectations for the sequel to the superior film, “The Dark Knight.” Christopher Nolan and gang have returned to conclude the Batman series that will go down as the best superhero trilogy of all-time and simply one of the best trilogies of any genre. The Dark Knight Rises raises its stakes and pushes the envelope to epic proportions, with a 164 minute running time, a heinous villain, and obstacles that seem impossible to overcome.

In typical comic-book fashion, there is good versus evil but here it’s really polarizing, which isn’t a strength of the film. Bruce Wayne is retired and is in hiding from the public, but is forced out of his mansion when Bane appears. Preaching to return the power to the people, Bane releases Hell on Gotham, targeting Wayne Industries and the police force for his own gain. With a growing number of supporters behind him, his army takes the city by storm and the world allows Gotham to fall. Where is the Batman?

With almost three hours to allow the story to play out, it almost seems that the plot was rushed. Bane is a very intriguing character, but his story doesn’t get the time-of-day because of a surprising reveal towards the end of the film. With The Joker, the villainous clown was developed throughout the entire film and we understood his deceiving influence, but Bane’s scenes were only of carnage and chaos with little explaining his anger. Nonetheless, Bane certainly inflicted an ungodly amount of terror physically and emotionally, destroying anything in his sight with an intimidating physique and a frightening mask.

There are a handful of new faces in The Dark Knight Rises, including three co-stars from Nolan’s “Inception.” Bane is played by Tom Hardy, Miranda Tate is played by Marion Cotillard, and the hot-shot Gotham cop John Blake is played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. There is also Anne Hathaway who plays Catwoman, a dangerous yet fragile thief who is always on the run. Inserting so many new characters weighed down the film a bit, but gave it a depth that didn’t exist in the first two films.

Without a doubt, The Dark Knight Rises is the boldest and biggest film of the trilogy. The action sequences rumble through the theater and the stakes are at its highest. Also, the superb cast elevates every aspect of the film, and though Bale and Hardy have lead roles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the bright spot of all the actors.

While the conclusion of the film wraps things up in a tidy manner compared to the previous two, one has to view the entire trilogy as a whole to fully appreciate what Nolan has done to the franchise. He has injected intelligence, respect, and justice to one of the best superheroes ever created. Nolan is also to thank for the number of new fans he has brought to the Batman series. If there is one thing Nolan has done wrong, it is constructing ridiculous expectations and comparisons for the next attempt at the Batman franchise. It’s unknown who’s going to have the tenacity to take on that challenge, but whoever decides to do so will need more than all of Batman’s gadgets to concoct something as magical.

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