THE DARK KNIGHT teaser poster | ©2011 Warner Bros.

THE DARK KNIGHT teaser poster | ©2011 Warner Bros.

Stars: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Writers:
Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer, based on characters created by DC Comics, Batman created by Bob Kane
Director:
Christopher Nolan
Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Release Date:
July 20, 2012

Few movies come with as many built-in expectations as does THE DARK KNIGHT, director/co-writer Christopher Nolan’s finale to the Batman saga he started with 2005’s BATMAN BEGINS and continued with 2008’s THE DARK KNIGHT.

Christian Bale is as brooding and tortured as they come in the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and he starts THE DARK KNIGHT RISES in a funk that’s lasted eight years (twice the amount of time has gone by in the story as has passed between films). “The Batman,” as Gotham City residents call him, hasn’t been seen since that fateful night when it’s believed he murdered heroic politician Harvey Dent.

Of course, few people apart from Bruce/Batman and police commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) know that Harvey became psychotically unhinged. No matter. Bruce feels he has failed his deceased true love Rachel, his city and his calling, and has retreated to Wayne Manor. However, when Wayne Manor is robbed by enterprising cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Bruce decides to track her down. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure has taken over Gotham’s underground, literally and figuratively.

Given the dire threats flying around the Internet about spoilers, we’ll stop the summary here. Besides, there’s no need to describe the plot further, because really, what sort of developments could sway potential viewers one way or another at this late date?

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is genuinely epic in its narrative scope – it has the density of a sprawling novel, with various characters and subplots that are all linked but take on their own weight as the film unfolds. Director Christopher Nolan and his co-writer Jonathan Nolan, working from the story the director co-crafted with David S. Goyer, are into some serious world-building here, as we seem to explore many nooks and crannies of Gotham, as well as a few other locales.

“Big” movies are released constantly in IMAX, whether or not they need it. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will no doubt play just fine on conventional screens, but seeing the sweeping cityscape of Gotham in this format, as well as some of the various vehicles that are part of Batman’s arsenal, is thrilling. It looks like a world we can enter and touch.

The filmmakers are also serious about giving characters their due – Bruce/Batman is the protagonist, faced with dilemmas that are both existential and practical, but the soul of the film is embodied by Michael Caine, who is tasked with a few things that lesser actors might not be able to pull off.

Bale has nuance and real pain as Bruce and is suitably formidable as Batman; we believe he can go up against the massive Cad Bane (Tom Hardy), a powerful villain. Hardy has made an intriguing decision regarding the character’s voice, as he sounds remarkably like Ian McKellen, much more avuncular and thoughtful than Bane’s fearsome appearance would suggest. Hathaway is fairly delightful as Selina, Joseph Gordon-Levitt scores as a very determined young patrolman and Morgan Freeman is once again a source of wisdom as inventor Lucius Fox. Oldman likewise delivers another strong performance as the privately anguished Gordon. Marion Cotillard is very classy as a business associate of Bruce Wayne.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES delivers as expected on huge action set pieces, involving massive machines, collapsing buildings or just people trying to beat the life out of each other. It is also hardly unusual to hear the characters talk about big themes – purpose, guilt, responsibility – but the filmmakers here do much more than give lip service to the concepts this time around. The ending is likely to have people talking, but there’s no question that it’s been set up properly.

There are places where the filmmakers overdo it a bit to make a point – certain elements feel repetitive and a few threads could probably have been pulled out here and there for the sake of brevity that wouldn’t have harmed the larger tapestry. There are also places where the scope of the story tends to elbow its main character out of the center of the action, which may not sit well with everyone. Still, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a worthy climax to the trilogy.

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Article: Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

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