The Dark Knight Rises Made in: USA Language: English Director: Christopher Nolan Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Burn Gorman, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson Year: 2012
Synopsis: Eight years after the end of the last Batman movie, Gotham City is in a state of peace. Police commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has kept the agonizing secret of Harvey Dent's death from a public which wrongly looks upon Batman (Christian Bale) as a cold-blooded killer.
Following the sudden abduction of a US senator, Gordon and a tenacious young police officer named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) investigate. They stumble upon Bane (Tom Hardy), an enormous masked criminal mastermind. He is amassing a vast underground army, and in time, promises to unleash a new terror on Gotham City (while spouting class warfare inanities).
Meanwhile, eccentric billionaire Bruce Wayne has become a recluse who rarely leaves his newly rebuilt mansion. After crossing paths with a highly cunning cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Wayne's suspicion is piqued. He begins the painstaking task of tracking her down and inevitably discovers her connection to the sadistic Bane.
As a complicated plot full of betrayals, conspiracies, and violence starts to thicken, Batman is once again called upon to save Gotham City.
The Good: The Dark Knight Rises is every bit as exciting as a summer blockbuster should be. It is dark, very intense, and contains some pulse-pounding action sequences. No shaky Jason Bourn-ish camera work here - we can actually see what the hell's going on when the fists and Batarangs start flying.
The cast is a lot of fun, with solid support from the likes of Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman. Anne Hathaway exceeded my expectations as Catwoman. The Catwoman outfit itself appears to be somewhat of a thowback to Julie Newmar's costume from the 1960s, and its overall simplicity/functionality is consistent with Nolan's style.
With the utmost care and expertise, director Christopher Nolan has crafted a solid conclusion to his stellar Batman vision. With plenty of references to his previous Batman movies, The Dark Knight Rises ties it all together in the end while maintaining the intensity and energy started by Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
The Bad: Of the three recent Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises is the most unevenly paced. The first third of the movie seems too rushed. We don't get a solid sense of Bruce Wayne's isolation from the world, and the anticipation isn't built up enough when characters and motives are revealed. The second act of the movie drags a little, and makes the film seem a bit bloated at times.
There are a lot of intriguing characters, but even though the movie clocks in at around two hours and forty-four minutes, there isn't sufficient screen time for all the big players. Tom Hardy is a really good actor, but you'd never tell because he's got a mask covering his face the whole time. Plus, that damn thing makes Bane practically unintelligible whenever he says anything.
Who would like this movie: The Dark Knight Rises is a must-see for Bat-fans who enjoyed Christopher Nolan's previous films. The climax is very exciting, and makes up for most of the movie's deficiencies.
Bane's class warfare trash-talk and violent acts against Gotham's affluent seems to be a pretty clear criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement. And as Batman punches out Bane's gang of economic illiterates, you may find the spectacle either refreshing or offensive depending on your personal politics. (But thankfully, no one is seen sh*tting on police cars).
But just keep in mind that The Dark Knight Rises was conceived and filmed before OWS even started (and Christopher Nolan himself has denied deliberately injecting any political commentary).
Although a bit longer than it needs to be, this is a dark, thrilling summer movie that's pretty much everything you'd expect from the Batman franchise. And yet, there's still room for yet another sequel...