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Film Review- "The Dark Knight Rises" 2012

Director Christopher Nolan masterful Batman triology concludes on a high note with this thrilling action adventure, starring Christian Bale once again as Batman.

 

“The Dark Knight Rises”

Directed by- Christopher Nolan

Running Time- 165 min.

Rated- PG-13

 

Christopher Nolan concludes his successful trilogy of “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” with another action-packed crime-drama about Bruce Wayne aka Batman, played again by Christian Bale. The third installment of the series leaves little doubt that this will be Nolan's last Batman movie. The acclaimed director manages to tell an intense modern-day superhero story while bringing finality to the character in a way that will satisfy all viewers.

Also returning from the last film are Alfred, played by Michael Caine, Commissioner Gordon, played by Gary Oldman and inventor/ chairman of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman.

The movie has plenty of new characters who are all twisted up in a complicated storyline. A cat burglar named Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, gets caught stealing Bruce's mother's pearl necklace from his house safe. Bruce tracks her while at the same time realizing he is drawn to her. Turns out instead of the necklace Selina was really after Bruce's fingerprints so new villain Bane, played by Tom Hardy could use them to trigger a stock market crash and steal Wayne's fortune. Other new characters include a young beat cop named John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and environmentalist/potential new love interest Miranda Tate, played by Marion Cotillard. Blake gets promoted to detective when he saves Commissioner Gordon from Bane. Bane is a muscle-bound criminal that speaks with a computerized rasp due to an electronic mask over most of his face. When Bane uses Wayne's fingerprints to steal his money, in order to maintain control of his business, Bruce entrusts Miranda to keep his business rival John Daggett, who is working with Bane, from taking full control.

The emergence of a new villain prompts Bruce to become Batman for the first time in eight years. Till then he had been living like a hermit, shut off from the world, secluded in his home Wayne Manor, under the watch of his loyal butler Alfred. Alfred wants Bruce to move on from his life in Gotham in order for him to get over the death of his love Rachel Dawes. Plus Bruce is older and hobbled, he walks with a cane. But Lucius has some new “toys” for him to use as Batman and Bruce dons the bat suit once again. Batman follows the trail Selina leaves for him and Batman does battle with Bane only to learn Bane was trained in the League of Shadows same as he was. Bane totally over powers him, breaking Batman's bones and unmasks him and throws Bruce into a prison well from which only one person ever escaped.

With Batman out of the way, Bane steals all of his vehicles and weapons to use in his assault of Gotham City. Bane reads a confession written by Gordon about how Harvey Dent really died and that the cover-up is what led to the arrest of most of Gotham's criminals. So Bane releases everyone from Blackgate Prison and incites the people to revolt and bring everyone of power and privilege to court to be either killed or exiled. Bane also pulls off a scheme trapping most of the city's police force in an underground tunnel by setting off explosives in a scene of city-wide mass destruction.

Bruce heals and exercises and regains his strength in order to escape the prison well. It takes him several tries for him to climb out of the tunnel and each time he learns from his fellow inmates more about the one person who escaped, a child who climbed the well walls without the rope everyone else used. Bruce deduces that the child who escaped was Bane and that to escape he too has to climb the wall without the rope.

Meanwhile Bane steals a fusion reactor and forces a scientist to turn it into a bomb. He threatens the people of Gotham by telling them if anyone leaves the city he will set off the bomb. It is up to Batman, Gordon, Selina, Blake and Lucius to find the bomb and stop it from destroying Gotham.

For all the famous actors in this movie, the star of the film, once again, is the story. The acting is solid from everyone in the film. The action scenes are big and exciting and are borderline jaw-dropping. The dialogue is the same high quality dialogue we have come to expect from a Nolan picture. But what grabs you again is the story. It is filled with drama and struggle and triumph. It has intense suspense that fills the movie with a feeling of gut-wrenching impending doom and an all-too-human superhero who has to conquer his own demons before he can save the day. Plus there are plenty of twists and surprises to keep the audience guessing till the end.

What I love about all three of these Batman movies is that they are about the collective human spirit. That Batman would never manage to save the day if it were not for the help of the other citizens of Gotham who through integrity and courage prove to him that they are worth saving. The conflict of the trilogy is the idea of allowing people to die as a way to balance out human nature verse the idea of saving those people because of a belief in their goodness. The fact that the non-superheroes manage to thwart the villains as much as Batman is the most empowering thing one takes away from the movie.

It is hard to judge this movie in a vacuum. It is the sequel to “The Dark Knight” which is still the best of the three films, with this film coming in a not-so-close second. And it is hard to think about this movie without remembering the shooting that took place during an opening night midnight showing in Colorado. Those are the two things that will hold this movie back when it comes to it receiving praise or accolades and neither have to do with the movie itself. The filmmakers had nothing to do with the Colorado tragedy and Heath Ledger gave a once-in-a-lifetime performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” But judging it based on its own merit, “The Dark Knight Rises” stands with the best movies this year has had to offer so far.

 

Review Grade- A

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