Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
They began showing up in the 1930s. Tough guys that took on crime. Dick Tracy. The Shadow. And Batman. Sorry, THE Batman. In my opinion, Batman was the first great hero (I hesitate to use the word “superhero” because people always point out that Batman doesn’t have any special powers – can’t fly, can’t run fast, can’t communicate with fish). The 1960s introduced a campy, cool Batman to television audiences. The late 1980s gave us Tim Burton’s visionary version. The 1990s saw Joel Schumacher drive a nail into the heart of the franchise. Enter Christopher Nolan. He took over the character and made him what he always was in the comic books…one bad ass Caped Crusader. In “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” we saw a Batman that thrived on vengeance and battled evil at all costs. Now, with “The Dark Knight Rises,” he may have to pay the ultimate price!
Gotham City. It has been eight years since District Attorney Harvey Dent was murdered by Batman. Or so the story goes. Only Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) knows the truth about what happened on that fateful night. However, the city took up Dent as a martyr. Laws were passed in his name that pretty much eradicated crime in the city. In fact, the only thing missing is Batman. In order to preserve Dent’s legacy he had to hang up the cape. Now the only reminder of him is Bruce Wayne. Wayne spends his days holed up in his mansion, rarely appearing in public, speaking only to his long time butler, Alfred (Michael Caine). But when a madman known as Bane (Hardy) threatens the all out destruction of Gotham City and its citizens, it’s time to take the cape off of the hanger!
With a running time of almost three hours, “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a carnival ride that seems like it will never stop. Through twists and turns, up and down and all around, the film hurls you into an adventure you’ll be anxious to ride again and again. Along with the action you get a first rate cast operating at the top of their game. Bale, his voice rough and menacing, shows us a more vulnerable side of Batman then we’ve seen before. The same is true in his portrayal of Bruce Wayne. His scenes with Alfred are particularly moving. Oldman also fleshes out Gordon more, showing him as a man torn between telling the truth about Dent or allowing the charade to continue for the good of his city. New to the cast is Hathaway, who plays Selina Kyle, a small time cat burglar caught up in a situation she can’t control and Hardy, whose performance as Bane is truly menacing. He’s like Robert Shaw’s Red Gant in “From Russia With Love” – the first bad guy that looked like he could kick James Bond’s ass. Also new to the cast is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a young, idealistic Gotham police officer. If there is any drawback with the characters it is that Bane must speak through a mask that appears to have been mounted on his face. Unfortunately this makes him sound like Sean Connery playing Darth Vader. Not too disrupting but you need to listen hard to catch everything he says.
Visually the film is amazing. The special effects are top notch, including one scene highlighted in the coming attraction: the complete and utter annihilation of a football field. On game day! Throw in an assortment of new “Bat” vehicles and you’re in for the ride of your life. Move over, “Avengers.” You guys may be the latest but Batman was the first. And “The Dark Knight Rises” is the best!