Movie Review: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

The Dark Knight Rises

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ — a film review by Gary Chew

As the sun also rises, so does The Dark Knight, and Gotham City has never had it so good. That big, lovable burg has citizens who’d give their lives for the town. Such a sense of community and so … such a metropolis it is, as well.

Oops, this is Bruce Wayne’s town, not Clark Kent’s.

For eight years, Bruce (Christian Bale, also Batman) has been lying low as a fugitive in Gotham since what came crashing down around him in the very large second episode of The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, Mr. Wayne’s absence has allowed all sorts of riff raff to slither into the city limits and wreak havoc for “The Dark Knight Rises,” the last in director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy based on Bob Kane’s characters in DC Comics’ adventures of a caped and cowled crusader.

The Dark Knight Rises
Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises.

It’s a summertime movie that should bust a block of any size, anywhere.

The new villain-terrorist makes the Joker look like a piece of half-baked birthday cake. Bane (Tom Hardy) is Batman’s latest nemesis; and Bane, as they say, “takes no prisoners” in his brutally vile machinations to bring Gotham to its knees … one way or another. Bane’s choices are not good but the Shades-of-Darth mask he wears is great.

Bane is able to get his foot in Gotham’s back door under the opaque auspices of a cunning cat burglar (new to Gotham) named Selina Kyle-Cat Woman (Anne Hathaway). What she holds allegiance to seems up for grabs. Selina, too, occasionally doesn’t take prisoners, more often, instead, taking someone’s expensive necklace or high-dollar watch. For me, the Cat Woman character is an improvement over Robin, Batman’s former intrepid young companion of pulp.

Also new on the bat scene is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a well-connected, well-off woman who sits on Wayne Enterprises’ board. She’s in tow for rallying Wayne to make a comeback to bail water from Wayne’s nearly scuttled ship of finance. There are sparks between Miranda and the out-of-shape, reclusive Bruce that allow him to get back in gear … some of which are his neat, black bat togs.

Stalwart actors playing stalwart returning characters are the really fine Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon; the venerable Michael Caine as Alfred, the Wayne Manor butler; and just as venerable Morgan Freeman as Wayne’s man over in the armoring department, Lucius Fox.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a new character to the franchise, John Blake … a rookie Gotham City police officer who gets a field promotion to plainclothesman from Commissioner Gordon. Gordon-Levitt does a solidly solemn job with a role that enjoys much face time.

The Dark Knight Rises
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard.

Nolan has crafted another hyper-realistic motion picture slammed with CGI’d action, speed and an unrelenting Hans Zimmer music score that seems as unstoppable as Bane. It’s mostly low brass and pounding kettle drums pushing the story forward and embellishing long stretches of hand-to-hand street brutality and aerial flybys among exploding buildings that take on an eerie 9/11 look. The lengthiness of such scenes approaches the inuring.

There is a pleasant break, though, in the music fare for a fancy dance party scene that’s supported by strains of “Pavane pour une infante défunte” by Maurice Ravel.

The film runs two hours 44 minutes and is rated PG-13. I saw it on an IMAX screen, so it really got in my face. But isn’t that what movies are for?

What’s really good about “Rises” is what comic books do so well: make plain the simple, important values of giving a damn about others and the community … and not giving up on trying to make it all better. Bruce Wayne is quite an exception to what almost appears to be the rule … as an entrepreneurial billionaire who goes to great lengths to rid his town of jerks … and all of it without packing heat … but really well-dressed for the occasion. That might be why the Bat guy has played so well for over seven decades.

“Rises” is as grim as it is pregnant with action and stress. Torture, pain and violence, with not so much blood, are generously supplied.

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