This review is late due to me having been ill and having seen the film twice, because I felt it needed/deserved two sittings. Sorry for the delay!

This one’s a Must-see!

Smashingly smart; great finish to great trilogy

It is hard for me to decide which film is better – The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers? On the one hand, Joss Whedon made pretty much a perfect comic book movie in that it’s self-aware and comical enough that you can still get into it and take it seriously without sensing the intent of a spoof  or some such. But really, Christopher Nolan‘s task must surely be a much more challenging one.

The Dark Knight Rises sucessfully does what the previous films in Nolan’s Batman trilogy has done – create a gritty and realistic superhero film based on a great character that remains serious and dark throughout – as well as giving the trilogy a perfect closure. If this is a greater accomplishment than creating something as fun as The Avengers I’m still thinking about.

Bruce Wayne (Bale) is finally back in the Batcave with Alfred (Caine).

This grand finale opens with the monstrous and towering supervillain Bane (Tom Hardy) attacking an aircraft with his band of mercenaries, kidnapping a Russian nuclear physicist, Dr. Pavel (Alon Abutbul) whom he is intending to use in his sinister plans against a certain city called Gotham. However, Gotham City is at peace now that the Joker is gone and many criminals are behind bars. Harvey Dent/Two-Face is gone, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hasn’t used his Batman mantle for eight years since the tragic events of The Dark Knight and is hiding in his mansion despite his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) begging him to stop isolating himself, Commisioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) considers retirement and things seem calm if rather depressing.

But when a cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), whose very cat-looking headgear/goggles gives her the nickname Catwoman, breaks into Wayne Manor and steals Bruce’s finger prints, payed to do so by one of Bane’s servants (Burn Gorman), Bruce decides it’s time to return. He does some research on both Selina and Bane, gets some new equipment from his wise-cracking colleague Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and soon finds himself back in his Batman costume, ready to face Bane. Catwoman, sneaky as ever and in spite of developing feelings for him, fools Batman into Bane’s sewer-based hideout where Batman proves to be no match for the menacing and seemingly invincible Bane. Yes my friends, Batman loses the first fight.

Triumphant, Bane takes Bruce Wayne to a prison in some foregin country – a prison at the bottom of a giant well, which seems to be easy to climb out of but as you reach the top there is an impossible jump that will send you hurtling back down – where he taunts Bruce and explains his plan to use the hand prints of various chairmen at Wayne Enterprises plus the knowledge of Dr. Pavel to turn a nuclear reactor, hidden in Gotham City, into an atom bomb, which he will set of three months after releasing all of Gotham’s prisoners, removing all policemen and simply kill Gotham’s soul before killing the whole city itself. To make things worse, he reveals to be part of the League of Shadows and intends to fulfil the work of Batman’s first nemesis – Ra’s Al Ghul! Will Batman save the day and stop Bane in time? Find out next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Batman meets Bane at last.

The sexy Catwoman’s nickname comes from the way her goggles happen to look like cat ears. A clever little twist says I.

The colorful supporting cast consists of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a police Rookie and Batman fanboy named John Blake, although his full name is revealed at the end of the film in a tremendously charming twist, the adorable Marion Cotillard as Bruce’s second love interest Miranda Tate who has bit of a secret, Mathew Modine as Deputy Peter Foley, Ben Mendelsohn as Bruce’s business rival John Daggett who hired Bane to obtain the finger prints but soon realizes that one does not order Bane around, Liam Neeson in a cameo as Ra’s, lovely Cillian Murphy as The Scarecrow (though he sadly doesn’t have the mask) and Aaron Eckhardt who shows up in flashbacks as Two-Face. This makes The Joker the only villain of the trilogy to not appear in this one. Sad.

The plot is confusing at times and it does indeed, as many critics have stated, feel like bit of a rehashh of the plot of Batman Begins, especially when bringing back the League of Shadows, but even so it is very engaging and enjoyable in that realistic and intense way only Mr. Nolan knows how to pull off. Sure, as the film was getting started it felt as if most of the dialogue was expository and there were a little too many new characters to focus on, but from the start it only keeps getting better!

The characters and performers are all splendid! Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are lovable as ever, Hathaway’s interpretation of Catwoman is both extremely lovable, in that anti-hero sort of way, and extremely well-acted, Caine gives one of the more tear-jerking and effective performances I’ve seen from him, Cotillard is charming and cute as a button, Levitt is superb and Bale makes for a good Batman once again. That stupid gravely Batman-voice is thankfully a little less exaggerated in The Dark Knight Rises, except for that one scene where he was politely shouting at Bane to tell him where the trigger for the atom bomb is. I swear he was doing it silly on purpose!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon.

So, what of the villain then? Well, as impossible as it is to top the late Heath Ledger‘s Joker, Tom Hardy’s Bane does come close and he is still entertaingly menacing and has an impressive costume in that it renders Tom Hardy wholly unrecognizable. I doubt that was really him, to be honest. His voice sounds much more booming than it would sound if one was to wear a mask like that but now I’m just nitpicking. Overall, Bane is truly badass and he makes the film a lot more fun.

Does The Dark Knight Rises have problems? Sure, but what film doesn’t? Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film with a smart story, smashing cinematography, an epic score by the talented Hans Zimmer, awe-inspiring dramatic moments, a great set of characters and an equally great cast. The various relationships and interactions are fun, as well (Batman-Bane, Bruce-Selina, Bruce-Alfred, Blake-Gordon, Bruce-Blake etc.) It brings a brilliant trilogy to a fine close and things will feel a bit empty knowing that Nolan won’t be making any more of these now.

Oh my, are those tears in my eyes?

5/5 whatever

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