The long awaited, highly anticipated final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy comes to an end with The Dark Knight Rises, which opened this morning at theaters across the country. It has already been hailed as a “masterpiece” by Andrew O’Hehir at Salon and “mercilessly brilliant” by Kenneth Turan, the Los Angeles Times film critic.
Set eight years after The Dark Knight Batman is no longer a hero. Taking the fall for the death of District Attorney gone mad, Harvey Dent, Batman is in exile, just as the final scenes of the second installment prefigured. Passage of the Dent Act in Gotham City has jailed a thousand gangsters and reduced crime to parking tickets. Or a missing senator to be precise.
Enter Bane the mercenary terrorist. Tom Hardy plays the respirator masked villain, the “pure evil” who becomes Gotham’s undoing. As the city is held hostage until her certain destruction, The Dark Knight Rises incorporates elements of both Batman Begins with its philosophical underpinnings and The Dark Knight with the character portrayal of malevolent, seemingly unstoppable evil.
(I see this segment as having more direct biblical overtones than the first two. The heel of the savior is bruised, he spends time in the grave (“hell” if you prefer), and comes back to crush the head of the enemy.)
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman all reprise their former roles, while Anne Hathaway is introduced as Selina Kyle (Catwoman), and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt takes the role of officer, then detective, John Blake. Marion Cotillard plays Wayne Enterprises board member–and Bruce Wayne love interest–Miranda Tate.
The Dark Knight Rises is even darker than The Dark Knight which I considered the darkest movie yet in the comic genre. This is not The Avengers with a different hero. More brutal, more graphic and more focused–at times–on the violence, TDKR plays very little for laughs. No Hulk grabbing Loki and thrashing him like a rag doll.
As good as it is, this movie was at times a little dialogue heavy. It felt as if Nolan was trying to tie up not only loose ends plot wise but also tying up emotional loose ends between characters. I also felt some dialogue between Batman and Catwoman were forced. Despite the violent and merciless nature of Bane, nothing compared to the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker (the late Heath Ledger) in police headquarters in The Dark Knight which I consider the best scene in the best sequence in the trilogy.
There is a great plot twist near the end that caught me completely off guard, set up as brilliantly as anything I have seen of Nolan’s work. There is also a great reveal in the last five minutes that I sniffed out about half-way through the movie.
I give it 4.25 out of 5 stars. It is a great movie, but not an all time great.
The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language. For parents: TDKR has less swearing than The Avengers. There is scene of “post sexual activity” talking, but nothing is seen. Hathaway, ala Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, is fitted–literally–in a tight leather suit for portions of her role. Thankfully, the director did not “camera leer” in this film as the director did in The Avengers.