At the Movies: The Dark Knight Rises

“The Dark Knight Rises” is a complex, compelling, overlong conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. In other words, it’s a lot like the other films in the series.

Eight years have passed since the events of the previous film, which ended with Batman on the run after taking the fall for the death of district attorney Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has retired from crime fighting and now lives as a recluse in his mansion.

Wayne is brought out of retirement by Bane (Tom Hardy), a terrorist and former disciple of Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson). Bane wants to fulfill Al Ghul’s goal of destroying Gotham, which he plans to do by taking a Wayne Enterprises fusion reactor and turning it into a bomb.

Subplot 1: A cat burglar makes off with Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace and Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints, bringing Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) into Batman’s orbit.

Subplot 2: A young police officer named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) proves to be a pretty astute detective and a decent crime fighter, bringing him into Commissioner Gordon’s (Gary Oldman) orbit.

Subplot 3: Potential love interest Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) tries to bring Wayne back into the world while ruthless businessman John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) is trying to take over his company.

There’s more, but I don’t want to give away the fun stuff. “The Dark Knight Rises” is as complex as any Nolan film, but not hard to follow. There are elements that are a bit too far out for my tastes — somehow Bane is able to hold an entire city for ransom for five months, the same amount of time it takes Bruce Wayne to recuperate from a vicious beating and escape an overseas prison.

But I’m more interested in the character dynamics than whether or not Batman can thwart some villain’s scheme, and once again all the cast do fine work. Hathaway turns out to be one of the better Catwomen put to film. Gordon-Levitt is a good addition to the team. Oldman, Michael Caine (Alfred) and Morgan Freeman  (Lucius Fox) are reliable as always. This movie even made me appreciate Bane, a bat-villain I have never cared for.

The film opens with a thrilling mid-air hijacking, the first of many nifty action sequences. Fox still comes up with impressive new toys for Batman. And we finally get to see Batman fighting in broad daylight and I must say, that costume really doesn’t work in broad daylight.

I don’t know if Nolan was planning a trilogy when he made “Batman Begins,” but he’s done a nice job here of tying all the threads together. It’s rare to get a real sense of closure with superhero movies as someone is always planning for another installment, so it’s refreshing to get one that feels like it’s come to a satisfying conclusion. I didn’t love everything about “The Dark Knight Rises,” but I did love the ending.

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