By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Not only does "The Dark Knight Rises"
live up to all its hype, but this third and "final" chapter from director Chistopher Nolan's beloved bat tale may be the crowning achievement of his career.
That says a lot particularly when you consider that "The Dark Knight" (2008) raked in $1 billion dollars worldwide and also earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar Award for his role as The Joker.
Although the "The Dark Knight" wasn't nominated for "Best Picture," the buzz is already swirling that "The Dark Knight Rises" is a sure-fire frontrunner this time around. And now that the Academy changed the "Best Picture" category to include 10 nominees instead of its longstanding five, it could happen.
Before I launch into the review of "The Dark Knight Rises," I have to tell you to see it in IMAX. Nearly half of "The Dark Knight Rises" is shot using the large format cameras and it's absolutely astounding.
Now, although it's been four years since we've seen the caped crusader on the big screen, eight years have passed in Gotham City. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is still publicly praising the now deceased District Attorney and hero Harvey Dent/Two-Face whose anti-crime Dent Act virtually wiped out organized crime and made Gotham City a much safer place to live.
So, there hasn't been a real need for Batman/Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale). Bruce has been out of sorts and in a self-imposed exile at Wayne Manor where he's carefully guarded by his butler and friend, Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine). Bruce looks haggard and still distraught from the death of his girlfriend, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
But things are about to get even worse for Bruce and Gotham city with the arrival of Selina Kyle, (Anne Hathaway, "One Fine Day" and "Love and Other Drugs") a mysterious cat burglar with ulterior motives and an evil, masked, terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy, "Warrior" and "Inception") who is bent on destroying Batman and Gotham City.
Bane is a formidable foe for Batman. He's now forced to don his cape and rise up to protect Gotham City once again. And Bane has an army of men who are dedicated to him at all costs.
Fortunately, Gotham City's police force is ready too and willing to take back the city. Bruce's biggest ally is a rookie cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Inception" and "50/50") who has admired Batman since he was a kid. There's a nice plot twist involving Levitt that fans of the franchise are going to love.
In fact, Nolan and his brother Jonathan (with a story assist by David S. Goyer), have crafted such an intelligent film. They've given "The Dark Knight Rises" a real contemporary feel with its political and social messages of class warfare, terrorism, economic crisis and corporate greed.
There are some amazing scenes where Bane takes hostages from the New York Stock Exchange, blows up a professional football stadium and decides to release prisoners from the jails sparking chaos and riots in the streets.
"The Dark Knight Rises" is layered with unpredictable twists and turns. It's no wonder the film runs nearly 175 minutes, but it flows effortlessly and is so engaging that its length isn't an issue.
My only complaint about "The Dark Knight Rises" is Hardy's villainous character Bane. Throughout much of the movie, it's really difficult to understand what he's saying because he's wearing a muzzle of course, but his voice is so deep and distorted you really have to strain to hear and actually miss some of the dialogue.
But Bale; Caine, Oldman, Marion Cotillard (Wayne Enterprises board member) and Morgan Freeman (the crafty Lucius Fox) all shine. However, the real surprise is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She's as convincing, feisty and sexy as Halle Berry and Michelle Pfeiffer who both donned the leather cat suit. Hathaway also looks great on the Bat-Pod.
Going in, I expected "The Dark Knight Rises" to be a good movie. It exceeded my expectations. It's pretty phenomenal.
You can also catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment by tuning in to the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 92.5 FM. Or you can log on to www.kfbk.com.
Take a look at the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.