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The Dark Knight Rises review

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Posted by: Robert Workman

“Either you die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Such words were haunting in 2008’s The Dark Knight, especially when the film concluded with the downfall of Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face.  And they re-emerge with the 2012 release The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s third – and final – opus in the Batman saga.  This film really eschews out the same level of energy as the first two, while wrapping everything together in a satisfying conclusion that make this one of the more appreciated trilogies we’ve seen since the Lord of the Rings days.  Yep, that good.

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Rises takes place eight years after Dark Knight, with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) hanging up the Bat-cowl and hiding in secret, much to the chagrin of his butler Alfred (Sir Michael Caine).  Meanwhile, some folks are stirring up trouble, between the frisky Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) breaking into safes and insisting the world will be shaken to a casual level and the hulky, monstrous Bane (Tom Hardy), who escapes from custody in a phenomenal airborne sequence and vows to bring Gotham City to its knees with a dastardly plan.

Other characters are involved as well.  Making their return are savvy machinist Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), who provides Bruce with his most helpful toy to date, a flying military vehicle called The Bat; and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), who has seen better days after seeing everything that unfolded with Two-Face years ago.  New characters are here as well, including a streetwise cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who helps Gordon on occasion and Miranda Tate (Marion Collitard), who has her eye on Wayne Enterprises…and the man himself.

All of this ties together into a nearly three-hour long story that, while not without its lulls, maintains a high level of interest with the numerous twists and turns.  When Bane first makes his public appearance in Gotham, during a football game, it’s absolutely nerve-wracking, as he can create the same kind of chaos Joker did, but in a much more fearful, concentrated matter.  It eventually leads to a rebirth of Wayne of sorts (we won’t get into it, avoiding spoilers) and a crackerjack showdown with 45 minutes worth of action that doesn’t let up until the final conclusion.  And yes, there are surprises here, but we dare not reveal them here.  Just look for some old faces to return.  That’s all we’ll say.

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Nolan directs with, again, a steady hand, as he did the first two films.  There’s hardly an implausible moment in the film, and it all comes together with beautiful CG work and plenty of riveting action, especially with the vehicle chase in the later part of the film.  The Bat is also a sight to behold, though the Bat Cycle gets its fair share of action.  And we finally get how those roving wheels work on that thing.

But it’s the performances that carry the film.  Like the first two movies, Bale does splendid as Batman, with some tearing behind that brooding voice of his that show you that he’s human after all.  Caine, Freeman and Oldman fit comfortably into their roles, doing whatever they can to help Batman save the day.  Hathaway is a damn fine Catwoman, and definitely lives up to her part, especially in action.  She’s definitely every bit as equal as Michelle Pfeiffer was when she held the part.  And Levitt is great as the cop, doing his part to try and save Gotham.

But Hardy is a real surprise here.  Though there are times he’s hard to understand as Bane (it’s the mask), he really puts a lot of fear behind his characters, with a certain cockiness as he grasps onto his coat like the proud king strolling the battlefield.  He’s strong and menacing too, backing up his talk with a whole lot of malice.  Like other actors in the series – even the late Heath Ledger – he backs up his role quite perfectly.  This isn’t Bane from Batman and Robin, by any means.

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That’s really all we can say about The Dark Knight Rises, as we don’t want to stroll too far into spoiler-land.  But we can easily say it wraps up the trilogy extremely well, and is a must-see for comic book fans and casual viewers alike.  And who knows?  Years from now, someone may revisit the Batman universe for a reboot and see if they can do it better.  It’ll take a hell of a lot of effort, though.

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On a side note, we here at GameZone would like to express our sympathies for those who lost loved ones and friends from last night’s Century 16 midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises.  Especially considering the author of this review lives just a few miles away.

Tags: The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Warner Bros.

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