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The Dark Knight Rises

There are very few films that have had so much built up anticipation as The Dark Knight Rises.  It’s almost impossible to live up to that hype, and while the film is entertaining, and a well rounded send off to one of the greatest trilogies of all time, it does have its flaws.  However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the film is one tremendous send off.

Christopher Nolan’s trilogy re-defined the comic book film industry when Batman Begins was released.  He closes the trilogy out with an interesting take on the Batman legacy.  Bale returns as a battered, beaten, and torn Bruce Wayne.  His days as Batman ended eight years prior with the death of Harvey Dent.  Gotham’s streets are clean, but they are soon attacked with full vengeance by a new enemy Bane, played by Tom Hardy.  Bane plans to achieve what his mentor Ra’s al Ghul failed at, the complete destruction of Gotham.

Bruce Wayne must face his demons and put the Batman costume on once again to stop Bane, but he is not the Batman of old, and Bane may prove to be his demise.  Batman has help along the way with the appearance of Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway, and also rookie cop John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon Leavitt.   Catwoman is a burglar who wants to steal from Wayne.  She wants to steal something that will deal a crushing blow to Bruce Wayne’s legacy, and the city of Gotham.  She doesn’t realize this though.

The origin of Bane and his ties to the League of Shadows are the most interesting aspects of the film.  The film attempts to tie this story in with wayyyy too many other storylines over the course of almost 3 hours.  Many of these sub-plots could have been forgotten all together, making the film much more concise and ultimately as pitch perfect as Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight.  Focusing solely on Bane, Batman, their history, and Gotham would have been sufficient enough.  Unfortunately we are stuck with Catwoman for some reason for a major portion of the film.

Cutting out Catwoman would have not only alleviated the bloated length of the film, but also saved us from Anne Hathaway’s terrible performance.  The film would have garnered much higher marks from me if her entire character was never involved.  No seriously…not one bit of her.  I don’t really understand what Nolan was thinking by casting her, or involving Catwoman at all in the film.

The film gets a little confusing as a bunch of sub-plots attempt to merge together, and Nolan has trouble making sense of a lot of them, or at least I did anyway.  Connecting the dots here, makes watching Inception feel like child’s play.  The film is also unfortunately saddled with some cheesy scenes and lines that you would expect to find in Batman and Robin, but not here.  I can look past these mis-steps, but they do stick out like a sore thumb, ultimately degrading the film just a bit.

As always Nolan does take a lot of chances with the script.  He’s a director that has a vision that always pays off.  That is what ultimately makes the film work, even with the few minor flaws that I’ve listed.  The Dark Knight Rises stands on its own in its originality from the two previous films.  The length of the film and Hathaway’s performance, do unfortunately make this the weakest of the three films.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth seeing, and doesn’t pack enough thrills to make this a fantastic summer blockbuster film.

Grade: B+