I went on my own since Georgie decided she had seen sufficient violence in "The Dark Night." I haven't gone to a movie by myself since before we were married, so that alone was an unusual experience.
The beginning of the film is three years after the events of "The Dark Knight," and the supposed heroic death of District Attorney Harvey ("Two-Face") Dent. With the Batman wanted for Dent's murder, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, mourning the death of Rachel Dawes, and nursing the injuries incurred in his battle with the Joker. He's lured out when his private safe is burgled by Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) (the name "Catwoman" is not used in this picture, but we all know who she is--). This incursion is merely the tip of the spear of a convoluted plot that starts with a struggle for control of Wayne Industries and culminates with Gotham City being forced to re-enact a sort of "Paris Commune" of anarchy and bloodshed under the direction of Bane (Tom Hardy), who takes a gleeful, almost professorial role, in leading the Gothamites into degradation.
This movie is marginally less dark than "The Dark Night," in part because Bane and company do have an agenda, and are not as reflexively vicious as Heath Ledger's Joker. Like "Batman Begins," the movie culminates in an over-long and drawn-out running battle which still manages to maintain interest due to the number of twists and turns it takes.
I am stuck by the "criminal genius" of director Nolan and his co-writers. They have come up with some artfully planned capers: however, they cheat a bit since all their major villains are all nihilists who don't really care what happens next. Bane, Joker, Ras Al Ghul, Scarecrow, and even Two-Face all fall into this category of hell-bent self-destructiveness. (Hathaway's self-interested Selina Kyle is an exception, although even she takes some insane risks--.) I suppose that once you have introduced these ultimate wreckers into your universe of discourse, mere thieves and thugs aren't exciting enough.
As expected, strong performances by the returning cast members, including Gary Oldman as Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and particularly Micheal Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. To hear Alfred's usually correct accents slip back to something more Cockney as he finally shows emotion to Wayne was to appreciate artistry in acting.
The new cast for the film were excellent as well. I would not have thought to cast Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, but she was excellent. Usually notable for her dazzling smile, she could be strikingly feral when growling into the ear of a thug. Tom Hardy as Bane was a striking character as well. He's clearly drawn on "Darth Vader", as shown by his casual killing of displeasing henchmen, but he has an almost jolly and expansive manner at times. There's no question Hardy was hindered by Bane's mask which almost entirely hid his expressions as well as distorting his voice (sometimes to unintelligibility), but he did well, regardless. Other notable new characters included Matthew Modine as Gordon's ambitious deputy; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young cop who believes in the Batman; and Marion Cotillard as a wealthy investor and player in the contest for control of Wayne's technologies.
If you saw and appreciated "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," you will probably have seen "The Dark Knight Rises" by now. If you haven't you should. If you haven't been following the series, it's a bit late to get on.
Harsh, brutal, and exciting as its predecessors were. Not as cruel and savage as "The Dark Knight," quite. A satisfying end to this arc of stories.
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