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The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, hit theaters midnight of July 20, 2012. Teeming masses of fans stood in line for hours waiting to step into the theater and finish the amazing story that started with ‘Batman Begins’ (2005), continued with ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), and finished with ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’
Expectations are high and well deserved as the previous films have been hailed as some of the greatest comic book hero movies of all time, to say nothing of two of the greatest films of all time. Fortunately, ‘Rises’ does not disappoint as it is a powerful, moving, bold tale that will resonate with fans and moviegoers for years to come.
Spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution.
‘Rises’ begins with the introduction of the merciless mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) kidnapping a nuclear physicist from a plane overseas. It then cuts to Gotham City celebrating Harvey Dent Day and reveals that it has been eight years since the death of Dent and the disappearance of Batman, who took the blame in order to place the city on the path to peace. Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) delivers a speech that reveals he is still wracked with guilt for allowing Batman to take the fall for Dent’s murder but is still hesitant to reveal to the people that Dent was not as perfect as he seemed.
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse and has a limp due to his inactivity and former injuries from when he was Batman. While taking in his dinner, Bruce bumps into a maid stealing his mother’s pearls as well as a copy of his fingerprints. She escapes and he is intrigued by both her crime and her personality so he starts researching her background. He discovers that she is Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar and master thief, and decides to finally leave his mansion in search of why she stole his fingerprints.
Selina had been paid by the owner of another major company to steal the fingerprints as part of a plan to take over Wayne Enterprises. Her client tries to kill her to tie up loose ends, but she lures the police to the location by kidnapping a congressman and escapes custody. Selina had also been searching for a program called Clean Slate, which has the ability to wipe a person’s record clean so that they could start over, but she is told it does not exist. Frustrated, she continues working in Gotham’s criminal underbelly as she has heard of Bane’s reckoning for the city and wants to stay out of his path.
Bruce reconnects with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and newcomer Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) to try and rebuild the company, which suffered massive losses due to a failed project years ago. He enlists Tate to help him use an energy source Wayne Tech created and they pitch it to the board, hoping to reinvigorate profits at Wayne Enterprises.
Not long afterwards, Bane arrives in Gotham and Commissioner Gordon attempts to raid his lair in the sewers, but is badly injured and hospital ridden. After visiting Gordon in the hospital, Bruce is further motivated to put the cape and cowl back on to stop Bane. However, his bad knees and worn out body become his undoing and Bane defeats him, snapping one of his vertebrae in a vicious fight. Bane then sends Bruce to a prison deep underground in another country where he claimed to have escaped and tells Bruce that he will destroy Gotham as he is the apprentice of the late Ra’s al Ghul.
Bane returns to Gotham and engineers Wayne Enterprises’ energy source into a nuclear weapon. He and his army trap the city’s policemen underground and enforce martial law on the city. He then releases the inmates at Blackgate prison to “reclaim” the city. The only people left to stop him are a beat cop Gordon recruits to be a detective named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Selina Kyle, and a handful of officers.
Upon seeing the destruction of his city, Bruce tries his best to recover from his back injury but is only successful when he realizes that fear of death is instrumental to overcoming his obstacles. He escapes the prison and returns to Gotham, enlisting Det. Blake and Selina to help him take back the city and stop the bomb from detonating.
As expected of the Nolan Batman films, the acting is superb. Particular mention goes to Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. Most people had reservations about her casting as she is still a young woman, but she pulls off the sophistication, strength, beauty, and poise that characterize Selina Kyle. Her chemistry with Bruce Wayne is absolutely fantastic as the two do not hesitate to test each other’s wits all while sharing steamy sexual tension.
Christian Bale also brings his A-game as Bruce Wayne, who is completely battered and broken over the course of the film, but eventually finds the strength to carry on for the city he loves. His conviction and pain drive the story and make it truly unforgettable.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Det. Blake is also a welcome addition to the Batman canon because of his quick wits, unflinching loyalty to both Batman and the city, and his dedication to saving lives. His story is by far the most surprising as it was downplayed in the trailers and yet ends up being instrumental to the overall story.
Overall, it is a monumental film that no one should pass up. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ has effectively woven several amazing stories together with phenomenal actors, a dedicated director, and a fantastic production team to make one of the best superhero films of all time. See it. You won’t regret it.