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‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Review: Hathaway’s Catwoman & Hardy’s Bane Brilliant

Note: This is a spoiler-free movie review, so please don’t hesitate to read and post your thoughts in the comments section below!

This past week I re-watched “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” As much as I love director Christopher Nolan’s superhero origin story “Batman Begins,” I still can’t get over his masterpiece that is “The Dark Knight.” “The Dark Knight” presented us with an unthinkable villain, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and one of the most relentless villains in film history, the Joker (Heath Ledger). With that being said, and knowing that Nolan is one of the best filmmakers working today, I did have high expectations walking into his the conclusion of his Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“Rises” opens in the same fashion as “Dark Knight,” introducing the film’s villain right from the start. Bane (played incredibly by Tom Hardy), the new creepily masked villain in town, wants to take over Gotham and Wayne Enterprises. He and his band of bullet-vested bullies hijack a plane with the only doctor in the world he can deactivate big bombs, apparently.

It’s eight years after Dent’s death and Batman has completely disappeared from Gotham, after taking the fall for Dent’s crimes. We see police commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) give an awing speech at a memorial service for Dent, but he’s secretly cringing inside since Dent was five seconds away from murdering his son those eight years ago.

At the reception following the memorial, held at the Wayne mansion, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) keeps himself locked away upstairs, unshaven and in serious need of some Vitamin D. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) sneaks her way into the party as one of the wait staff and creeps upstairs to Wayne’s lair, stealing his mother’s pearls and his fingerprints. Hmmm. After Wayne catches her, the cat burglar smoothly escapes out the window into the night.

When the police attempt to locate Bane’s sewer lair, Gordon gets captured by Bane’s bandits and is shot. Newly promoted police detective, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) acts as Gordon’s eyes and ears in Gotham, while he lays helpless in the hospital. Since Gordon and Batman are buddy-buddy, this triggers Batman’s return, and the man in the dark suit rises up again to take down Gotham’s freaky villain.

There are several new characters in “Rises,” but certainly a few that stand out among others. After seeing Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman in the trailers, I wasn’t convinced she was the right dame for the part. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She stole every scene she was in and had the bit of sincerity and the massive amount of spite that Catwoman should have. The costume, her make-up and hair were crafted perfectly and she proves her impressive range with this role.

Michael Caine, who plays Wayne’s father figure and butler, Alfred, proves exceptional in “Rises,” too. Caine really should win an award as the most emotionally engaging character in the film. There is a specific scene in the movie, where Wayne and Alfred talk about Rachel Dawes and I was completely taken with his monologue. He’s a fantastic actor and it’s riveting to see his character arc in the conclusion to the trilogy.

Tom Hardy’s performance can’t go unnoticed either. Think about how tough it is for Hardy, to come in as the villain after Ledger’s performance in “Dark Knight.” There is no reason to compare the two, because Hardy completely held his own, even while wearing the mask that looks like a mixture of Hannibal Lecter’s and Darth Vadar’s. The actor had to do so much with his eyes for Bane’s malicious personality to fully come across on screen and he nailed it.

Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister certainly know how to produce an eye-opening film, but its Hans Zimmer’s score that is the impressive unseen character. His themes for Batman and Bane add so much to the film and make it a real masterpiece versus a mediocre superhero movie.

However fantastic the actors and score is, there is too much going on with the story and there is no centralized character to really follow. Don’t expect a Best Picture nomination for “Rises” or even a Best Director for Nolan. I think the chance came and went with “The Dark Knight.”

“The Dark Knight Rises” is a successful conclusion to the Nolan’s Batman tale, but isn’t the top-notch summer superhero movie we expected.

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