The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan has the honor of being the only person so far to successfully complete a Batman series.  Though there has been some pressure on Nolan to do a fourth movie in the series, and Christian Bale seems game, there really are no plans a decade further on.  Since The Dark Night Rises the role has been recast - twice - and the whole thing reimagined once again.  Despite this Nolan's trilogy has remained fresh in most people's minds.  The Dark Knight is still considered one of the best superhero films ever made while The Dark Night Rises still seems to be picked apart by amateur critics who, by many reviews I have seen, watched the movie with one eye on their iPhone.

Eight years have passed since the Joker's reign of terror, and Harvey Dent has now become Gotham's greatest hero, with a public holiday and everything.  Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is struggling with telling the truth about Dent, while Bruce Wayne (Bale) has become a recluse, leaving Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to runs his company.  Despite an ambitious cold fusion project funded by billionaire Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) Wayne Industries isn't doing too well, in large part because Wayne shut down the project because of the chance it could be weaponized.

He is not the only one aware of this as a mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy) has managed to kidnap a Russian scientist (Alon Aboutboul) who knows how to do just that and plans to use it on Gotham.  First he must get Wayne out of the way and he does so by laying a trail of breadcrumbs with the help of master thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).  With Batman out of the way Bane takes the city hostage, allowing the criminals to run the town and keeping everyone else at bay with the threat of using the bomb.  Wayne, however, has no intention on letting Gotham fall so easily.

We have another villain problem with this movie.  It is not too many - Kyle is of course Catwoman, but she has always been an on-again, off-again ally of Batman - but undercutting the one they have.  Bane, unlike Scarecrow or the Joker, is meant to be somewhat sympathetic, having been born in a prison where Third World warlords throw those who are to be forgotten.  He is a tough opponent and a good match for Batman, being a former member of the League of Shadows himself, and unlike a lot of people who seemed more interested in picking apart the movie just because The Dark Knight got a lot of attention, I think everything about Bane works, including the voice.  Tom Hardy has some great lines and does some excellent acting toward the end.

What hurts is the reveal of the bad guy behind it all.  There are hints but no real build-up, and the character needed to be made more relevant to the story from beginning to end so that the reveal is worth it.  This is the place that The Dark Knight Rises stumbles, and does so badly.  Bane, as the movie goes, becomes a person to both be feared and pitied, but the person behind Bane is just there and, by the time that becomes apparent, is no more than an average, run-of-the-mill bad guy.  It's disappointing.  It is also disappointing that the romance between Kyle and Wayne is undercooked, making the end seem a bit rushed, especially after it is shown early on that Selina has a girlfriend - another thing that is never built on.  It is frustrating that so much nuance was forgotten in a movie that is nearly three hours long, when there are definitely portions that could have been cut to add it in or, since we're almost there, just add another 16 minutes and call it even. 

Oldman gets more of a role this time around, and in a way that does not make Gordon seem so squeaky clean.  Thankfully, Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets enough time on screen for us to know Blake, a beat officer that due to his work in discovering Bane's plans gets moved up to detective and steps up to try to save as many people in Gotham as possible.  If there ever is a sequel I hope that Bruce Wayne isn't the focus, as it was pretty much hinted at throughout that Batman, as a symbol, still meant something, but Wayne was barely holding himself together physically and mentally.  Blake gave the audience hope that if it ever did continue Nolan's series would break some new ground.  

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Time: 164 minutes
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine
Director: Christopher Nolan



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