Dark Knight Rises

The Bane of Batman’s Existence

The Plot

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has had a tough 8 years since Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and his girlfriend Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal) died at the end of The Dark Knight.  The Batman took the fall for Dent’s death and hasn’t been heard from since – Wayne has become a bearded recluse.  Gotham has been remarkably crime free in the interim, thanks to laws passed targeting organized crime in the name of the late, deified Dent.  But now there’s a new threat in town and he goes by the name of Bane (Tom Hardy).  There’s also a fetching new thief on the loose, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), who’s quite the cat burglar.  Or, one might say, Catwoman.  She’s a tantalizing mix of good and naughty.  AS the action gets underway we meet up with old friends like Alfred the Butler (Michael Caine), Lucius Fox the gadget maker (Morgan Freeman) and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman).  There’s also a new face in town – cop and Batman fan John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – who believes that Batman still stands for good and is not the villain he’s been portrayed as since the death of Dent.

The Verdict

The Good

Anne Hathaway is a terrific Catwoman – sexy and mischievous.  The action scenes are up to the usual standard, with toys employed and a new vehicle in town.  The regulars perform as expected – Bale is decent as Wayne and horrible as Batman (I hate that voice, really, really hate it), Caine is sappy but appreciated as Alfred and Oldman and Freeman are solid but uninspired.  Bane is a frightening villain and the scenes focusing on his origins are some of the best in the movie.  Loose ends get tied up, new beginnings are forged and in general it’s a good final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s batman franchise.

The Bad

I really, really hate Batman’s voice.  Did I mention that?  Really hate it.  So much so that I don’t much care what happens to the character when he’s Batman because he seems like such a douche.  Nolan produces a lot of angst and action, but the entire production is extremely dark, only Anne Hathaway provides even the smallest bits of comic relief.  That isn’t always a bad thing, but it is for an actioner that’s 2 1/2 hours long.  Bane is a great villain whose power is stunted by the giant mask covering his face.  He loses any and all emotional power for lack of human expression.  it was such a great decision to go minimalist with Ledger’s make-up as the Joker –  Bane’s costuming fails as completely as that succeeded.

Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a decent end to a good trilogy of Batman movies.  it isn’t great, but the areas where it fails are pretty consistent with the areas where all 3 movies have failed.  It’s got a lot of action, fun gadgets and the handsome face of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  If you liked the other two, you’ll like this one.  3 stars out of 5.

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