Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ shines bright

by David Dixon

Warner Brothers

“The Dark Knight” was simply a brilliant film. With several unforgettable performances, most notably Heath Ledger as the Joker, the film dealt with messages regarding terrorism, heroic deeds and corruption while still including plenty of creative action sequences. As a sequel to this immensely popular Batman adventure and as the conclusion to director Christopher Nolan’s take on the famous superhero, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a deeply satisfying final chapter.

Several years after retiring as the protector of Gotham City, the wealthy Bruce Wayne, a.k.a Batman (Christian Bale), is in a rut and wants more than anything to continue fighting crime. He gets the opportunity to do so once the ruthless criminal known as Bane (Tom Hardy) begins brutally harming innocent people.

If the second installment was a crime thriller, the third movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” is more of an epic mystery with deliberate pacing and several big twists for both casual and die-hard fans.

After a nutty opening sequence that introduces Bane, the movie slows down, allowing viewers to reacquaint themselves with some familiar friends, such as Bruce, Alfred (Michael Caine), Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).

The old players return to their roles again seamlessly, but the most genuine moments are shared between Bruce and his butler and confidant Alfred. The close relationship has developed into something so authentic, it is heartbreaking to watch their comradery being tested when Bruce becomes Batman once again. Some of the sad exchanges between them may have audience members choking up and reaching for their tissues.

The new cast members, including an immensely likeable Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a smart performance by Marion Cotillard, are all comfortable with the material, partially because the script from Nolan and his brother Jonathan makes every major individual character stand out. Instead of trying to top Ledger’s iconic Joker, Hardy plays Bane with understated quirkiness.

Although plenty of people may have trouble understanding some of his lines, all the twisted points that Bane wants to make are crystal clear.

As for Anne Hathaway’s role as Selina Kyle, or Catwoman, she doesn’t miss the opportunity to kick butt and be funny without verging into camp. This is something not easily done in a comic book adaptation, especially for a franchise that has had periods when over-the-top silliness ruled.

“The Dark Knight Rises” features a reoccurring theme that is handled very maturely.

Warning, a spoiler is coming.

In the previous blockbuster, an obvious learned moral is that good individuals sometimes deserve something better than brutal truths. This installment begs the question of how decent citizens, including Bruce and those living in Gotham, will be affected if they end up learning about things that can shatter their faith in humanity. Nolan’s uplifting answer is unexpected, especially because some of his material can be quite dark.

Add in some terrific battle scenes to go along with the screenplay and the result is an excellent finale to an amazing trilogy. A small piece of advice though: Watch “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” beforehand. Not only does the story become clearer, but it is easier to appreciate how well developed Bruce’s saga is.

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