The Dark Knight Rises represents some superior filmmaking that, as its predecessor, actually lives up to the hype. Whether you love or loath Batman’s raspy voice or Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane, this film creates some memorable moments including the multi-layered ending.
Director Christopher Nolan’s (Inception, The Prestige, Memento) outstanding continuity gives every element presented some form of resolution. Nolan, who also co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan, and co-wrote the story with David S. Goyer, weaves several elements to create the aura of an epic play disguised as a superhero blockbuster.
Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne / Batman who encounters several new challenges including Wayne Enterprises’ finances, rival business executives, and a big bad baddie called Bane, played by Tom Hardy whose vocal delivery and darting eyes shape a uniquely masked, brawny antagonist that Batman has never experienced before. Bale’s performance infuses potent vulnerability with steady disposition for a stalwart hero who transitions into legendary status.
Michael Caine also returns as Bruce’s life-long supporter and servant Alfred and Morgan Freeman plays Lucius Fox who now manages Wayne Enterprises. Gary Oldman reprises his role as Commissioner James Gordon while new law enforcement characters include Matthew Modine as Deputy Commissioner Foley and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake.
Other new characters include Marion Cotillard as Miranda, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, and Juno Temple as Holly Robinson, Catwoman’s confidante. Hathaway plays Catwoman straight up with no auras of an alter ego or dual personality. The only duality seen here is her moral choice between good and bad while handling the physical duties incredibly well.
Audiences get action, surprises, character reveals and encores from some characters from the past two films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight while other characters are not mentioned at all (avoid any spoilers by avoiding the cast list).
Nolan keeps his core crew intact including cinematographer Wally Pfister, musical score composer Hans Zimmer, and editor Lee Smith – all worked on the two previous films. Economic, social, and political themes in the film stem from basic morality themes, which have made this series so compelling and memorable. The ideal ending provides nice closure on many levels with a hint of predictability, which comes as no surprise given the character’s constant morals throughout this film series.
Based in the characters created by Bob Kane, this conclusion to Nolan’s film trilogy gives audiences an amazing swan song for the Caped Crusader. Highly recommended (***1/2) and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Special note: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the shooting victims at the movie theater in Colorado and to their families/friends.