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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

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There are great movies and there are really great movies. Christopher Nolan’s latest masterpiece, The Dark Knight Rises, falls into that latter category quite effortlessly. Marking the culmination of the acclaimed filmmaker’s Batman trilogy, it’s an ambitious and audacious spectacle that dazzles with a ferocious intensity, high-octane thrills and luminous performances, led by the supremely fantastic Christian Bale, the greatest Batman of all time.

Viewers of Nolan’s 2008 effort, The Dark Knight (perhaps best known for the late Heath Ledger’s terrific-terrifying turn as The Joker) will notice that the new sequel picks up several years later with Gotham embracing the Dent Act that has been wheeling criminals off the city streets and into prison. But Gotham’s biggest threat yet is on its way, in the form of a ruthless man-beast who goes by Bane (Tom Hardy, rocking a bulky frame, a baldie and a muzzle).

Bane’s emergence (from some nefarious cult known as the League of Shadows), causes all Hell to break loose, and things only deteriorate when he gets hold of a nuclear reactor that could see Gotham reduced to ash should it be set off. You don’t have to conversant with the finer details of the plot to know that it is up to Batman/Bruce Wayne to deliver the city from the clutches of this rampaging madman, who quickly amasses an enormous army of minions.

What plays out is a succession of edge-of-your-seat thrills and marvelous action sequences that lend new meaning to the ideas of popcorn entertainment and summer-blockbuster fun. But with a running time of nearly three hours, The Dark Knight Rises is so much more than that. Above all, it’s a monstrously wonderful testament to the genius of Nolan, who co-penned the screenplay with his brother Jonathan (with story by David S. Goyer).

In the hands of a director as skilled as Nolan, there’s next to nothing to complain about. What emerges is a pitch-perfect balance among all the elements: dramatics, action, humour, twists and turns, not to mention a rigid exploration of powerful themes like vengeance and redemption.

The casting is excellent. Anne Hathaway turns it out as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, playing the notorious cat burglar with a mix of slinky sensuality and kick-ass attitude. Gary Oldman returns as long-serving police commissioner James Gordon while Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman reprise their parts, respectively, as Wayne’s trusted manservant Alfred and choice armorer Lucius Fox. I was almost equally impressed by fast-rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is terrific as dedicated rookie cop John Blake, and Marion Cotillard, who reveals a new layer to her extraordinary gifts as philanthropist Miranda Tate and Wayne’s love interest.

In short, The Dark Knight Rises is, seriously, the most thrilling film I’ve ever watched. And I’ve seen a lot of movies. Riveting and utterly engrossing, it holds you under its spell all the way up to a satisfying end. 

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  • Alan Burton

    @ronnie Huh? What everybody loves about Nolan’s Batman movies is their realism, not their fantasy. Besides, I can handle a fantasy like The Lord of the Rings, where magic exists and follows its own logic. I can’t get down with a movie that’s as impossible to believe as The Dark Knight Rises (or the previous two). Fantasy is about imagining new worlds, not stretching logic beyond plausibility. These Batman films aren’t even fantasy, anyway. They’re science fiction, which makes the plot holes all the more glaring. You’re right that movies are full of plot holes, and usually they weigh stories down. When a story is as unintelligent as The Dark Knight Rises is, I can’t agree that it’s a “masterpiece”.

  • ronniemillsaps

    Alan, the movie is a fantasy. Its not supposed to be some revealing real life reality show. Most people want a movie that takes them to another place and time. If you want realism go to work and watch real people. For people like me that work with and for the police this kind of movie is a welcome escape to the real world. Every movie has a plot hole. The eagles could have dropped the ring in, there is no oxygen in space making the death star impossible and there’s a puff of smoke by the grassy knoll. Let it go and try to enjoy the cinematic treats you were given.

  • Alan Burton

    The movie was horrible, made absolutely no sense. Bane’s able to ruin Bruce Wayne with a few keystrokes at the stock exchange? The US government has no interest in stopping Bane even though he killed several federal field agents and crashed a plane (and I’d think Bane would be easy to take down by a sniper considering he covers just about everything but his bald head)? All of the police in Gotham City work the same shift, on the same detail, and when they’re trapped underground, the citizens let escaped criminals take charge? I could go on all day. Batman’s not even in it that much. Catwoman could have been cut out of the script and the plot would have barely changed. This is more like Waterworld with Batman as a supporting character. Bane’s voice made me laugh because it sounds like Sean Connery’s. And what’s the point of the whole trilogy? That a hero is… dark… no, wait, a hero must sacrifice himself so he can live in an exotic locale with Anne Hathaway… or a hero is… I don’t know, the movies are too pretentious. They mean nothing.