Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Well, it's the end of an era. The Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy has come to an end.  The Dark Knight Rises was a fitting and satisfying end. Before the first film, I doubted that the Batman series needed a reboot but Christopher Nolan did a fabulous job. Of the three, I would say this is the third best in the series. However, that is less a testament to the quality movie and more a testament to the quality of the trilogy of films that Nolan, Bale and company have produced. It's a damn good film.

The movie picks up eight years after the last movie. Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Aaron Eckhart) has been turned into a hero and Batman shunned. In fact, Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne (Bale) has become a recluse. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is still in place but is facing the end of his career with a younger Captain Foley (Matthew Modine) eager to take his place.

In regards to Wayne Enterprises, one of Bruce's final decisions before his self-imposed exile was not to move forward with a nuclear-based fusion reactor that holds the key to a clean energy future. He knew it could be easily turned into a devastating weapon. The decision has been a dire one for the once very profitable company. To save his company, he gives Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a wealthy investor with a passion for clean energy, the reins at Wayne Enterprises to oversee the project with Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman). It doesn't hurt that she's stunningly beautiful, a fact that doesn't bypass Wayne.

Of course, she's not the only beautiful woman in Wayne's life. There is the cat burglar he catches in the act. She's the beautiful Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).

Then, there is the villian. The most imposing villian in the series (at least to me), Bane (the delicious Tom Hardy who is regrettably masked for all but two seconds). He's got the brains and the brawn to be a seriously formidable foe. The masked man has a plan to overthrow the powers-that-be in Gotham and hand the city back to the people ... oh and steal the reactor and turn it into a powerful nuclear weapon. Young policeman Blake knows that only Batman can save the day and, having figured out his true identity, he knows exactly who to go to to make that happen, Bruce Wayne.

There is a lot of exposition because there is a lot going on in the movie. In fact, there are long stretches with no Christian Bale at all! I did feel his absence during these extended sequences but there is a lot going on in this movie.

The performances were first-rate beginning with Bale but extending to Michael Caine (always a very protective and loving Alfred), and newcomer to Batman Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I initially had serious reservations when Anne Hathaway was casted as Catwoman but with Nolan's decision to play her sans camp, it was a good choice.

There are several stunning action sequences,  starting with the daring hijacking taking place between two planes in mid air. The football scene is a staple of the trailer but it's even more intense than what's shown there. Then, there is the new and improved - flying -Batmobile and Bat cycle.

I loved the ending. In fact, I loved the movie so much that I'll probably see it again.

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