The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is visually pleasing, as Nolan once again creates a Gotham that seems to be a mash-up of a few major cities. Unfortunately, the film doesn't explain a lot of its new characters' backstories until near the end of the film, and Bane is very difficult to understand because he always speaks with a mask covering his mouth. For all of its faults and positives, however, I still recommend seeing the film, and it creates a fitting end for The Dark Knight trilogy, started in 2005 with Batman Begins.

At the end of The Dark Knight (2008), Batman (Christian Bale) and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) have decided that Batman will take the fall for Harvey Dent's death; Harvey (Aaron Eckhart) had become the villain "Two-Face" and had tried to kill one of Gordon's children, but Batman and Gordon realized that the city still needs a hero. TDKR picks up eight years after his death, when Dent Day is being celebrated. Gotham has been mostly crime-free for the past eight years, and Bruce Wayne (Bale) has become a recluse, languishing in Wayne Manor and rarely seeing visitors, with the exception of his butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), who heads up Wayne Enterprises. On the night of a charity gala at his mansion, however, a maid sneaks up to the East Wing where Wayne resides, and Wayne realizes she has stolen his mother's pearl necklace - from a safe that was supposed to be uncrackable. The maid, actually Catwoman (Anne Hathaway, One Day), disappears out of his window after talking to Wayne. Intrigued, Wayne follows her using the tracking device in the necklace, and finds that she disapproves of the way he and his rich one-percenter friends live.

Meanwhile, there's a new villain in town - Bane (Tom Hardy, This Means War), who wants to "take back Gotham for the people." Wayne realizes that Batman must make a comeback to fight this villain, but he soon finds that Bane is a lot stronger than him. Bane takes control of the city, warning that if anyone leaves he will blow the city up, and after their fight he deposits Wayne in an underground community of sorts where Bane used to live; the only way out is a huge hole which only one person has ever escaped from. Wayne must build up his strength again so he can get out of the hole and save Gotham before Bane destroys it.

There are four notable new characters in this movie, three of them starring actors who appeared in Nolan's Inception: Tom Hardy as Bane; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, to whom Bruce Wayne leaves control of Wayne Enterprises; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, a city cop; and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Hathaway is fantastic in the role and has great chemistry with Christian Bale, and the other three do well in their roles too, Gordon-Levitt especially. The end of the film (SPOILER) almost teases a spin-off trilogy with Gordon-Levitt, which I definitely wouldn't mind seeing.

Yes, see this film, even though parts of the story are a bit muddled. Bane's backstory is explained in the middle/end of the movie, and I would have liked to have had that explained earlier on; fans of the comic book series will know who he is, but from what I've read online, parts of his character have been changed. We don't see as much of Batman in this film as we see Bruce Wayne, if that makes sense, but that's not overall a bad thing. Although Bane is indeed a fierce villain, he is no match for The Joker (Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight, which left me a little disappointed as this was supposed to be the most epic of the three films. The cinematography is beautiful - I wouldn't expect anything less from Nolan, though - and the score/music is great, which help to complement the movie overall. I would like to watch the movie again, preferably on DVD with subtitles, because I have a feeling it might be one of those films that benefit from a second or even a third viewing. TDKR will undoubtedly be successful at the box office, however, and even though it's a bit uneven at times, it is still worth seeing to find out the fate of Bruce Wayne's Batman and his friends and enemies.

The Dark Knight Rises is in theaters today, July 20th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 165 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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