(Comic book saga,
PG-13, 164 minutes)
“The Dark Knight Rises,” opening today nationwide, brings an end to visionary director Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy chronicling Batman’s evolution. Despite the millions of dollars it is expected to draw, it pales in comparison to its predecessor, “The Dark Knight.”
This isn’t to say that the final film isn’t superb in its own right, but Nolan set his bar high with the sequel. However, this movie comes full circle from the first and will satisfy fans nevertheless.
Eight years after the death of beloved district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), the prestige and honor once equated with Batman are no more. He abandoned the people of Gotham City, took the fall for Dent’s death, and is nothing more than a scar on the city, rather than its hero.
Two men know the truth, and both struggle with the consequences. Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldham) sits in tortured silence as the city unknowingly continues to revere a villain.
Alone in his estate, grappling with guilt and loss, is the other man — Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Alfred (Michael Caine), his longtime butler and confidante, the only constant element in Wayne’s life, but finds himself struggling with his master’s self-imposed demise. It’s not the death of Bruce Wayne that Alfred fears — it’s Bruce’s apathy of its possibility.
The absence of a hero widens the gateway for villains. Bane (Thomas Hardy) is a muscular, menacing beast of a man. A mask covers the majority of his face and head and alters his voice, but his motives are clear. He’s a mercenary, exiled from the League of Shadows. His past parallels that of Bruce Wayne and Batman, but a vendetta will bring the two together in the present.
Longtime fans of DC Comics surely know about the connections with Bane and Batman. For those that don’t, do yourself a favor and forgo any Google and Wikipedia searches because it will spoil what’s coming.
And for the sake of not spoiling the movie, I won’t delve more into the plot. However, there are a few characters that are crucial to the story: Bruce Wayne’s business manager Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), young police officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).
Hathaway’s introduction to the film series is a welcome one. She is essentially Catwoman, but is never addressed as such. Gone are the campy and heavily sexualized versions portrayed by a host of actresses such as Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfieffer and Halle Berry. This vixen uses her physical and mental prowess more so than the feminine to get what she wants.
However, no supporting character and performance will be as memorable as that of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Exhilarated is how I felt watching him in this movie, and I kept waiting for that same feeling in “The Dark Knight Rises.” I got close, but no cigar.
However, as soon as the credits rolled, I wanted to see this movie all over again. Although it lacks what was near perfection with the second film, this one comes close.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is nearly three hours, and rightfully so for a conclusion such as this one. Do yourself a favor and watch the first two films before you see the final installment. It will make it less of a movie and more of an experience — one without the unnecessary distraction of 3-D.