By THOMAS BOND
“The Dark Knight Rises” is nothing short of a masterful end to the greatest superhero saga ever put to film. Layered, thoughtful, intense, and completely satisfying, this is the end that we have all been waiting, and hoping, we would get after “The Dark Knight” blew us away in the summer of 2008.
The film takes place eight years after the events in “TDK”, giving us a cleaned up Gotham, and a reclusive and broken-down Bruce Wayne, who hasn’t touched the Bat-Suit since he took the heat for Harvey Dent’s crimes. But a new enemy threatens Gotham, a villain willing to blow it all away in order to “restore balance” – Bane, a smart villain that also matches Batman in strength, a fresh feeling for these films. We witness a Batman here who is more human than ever, more war-torn than ever, and who is more defeatable than ever. With Gotham on the brink of destruction, Bruce has to summon all that he has in order to stop a threat that is more personal to him than he has ever faced before. The Dark Knight has to rise.
While “TDKR” may lack the break-neck speed, violence, and ferocity of “The Dark Knight”, not to mention the greatest super-villain performance of all time in the late Heath Ledger, it makes up ground in its story telling and character development. Bruce, played to perfection by Christian Bale, is pushed to his absolute limits here, as is his great city, which up until this film has only been toyed with. Here, it is completely and devastatingly brought to its knees at the hands of Bane, played with a brutal sophistication by the great Tom Hardy, who, because of a restrictive mask on his character’s face, acts using his eyes in a fierce and passionate way. Anne Hathaway gives us a Cat-Woman who is not just pretty to look at, as in “Batman Returns”, but is smart, sassy, and in control. Alfred the butler, played with gusto by the great Michael Caine, certainly gives the film its emotional center. If he doesn’t make your eyes water up, nothing will. Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cilian Murphy, and Marion Cotillard round out a cast that is nothing short of superb. And don’t forget about Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose character, John Blake, is much more important than we first think. Just wait.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is the most epic superhero movie of all time, hands down, in every way possible. The film’s budget and mind-blowing visuals (very little CGI) match the intensely compelling story and the rich characters blow for blow.
As a capper to the greatest superhero saga of all time, and as a film on its own, “The Dark Knight Rises” soars above our expectations, and compels us to stand up and cheer for what one man can accomplish when he is pushed to his limits.
The Batman remains the ultimate superhero.
Movie info from IMDb.com.