Feature

The Dark Knight Rises

Batman returns to save Gotham from self-destruction.

Directed by Christopher Nolan (PG-13)

**** 

The final chapter of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy brings the series to a “ferociously satisfying close,” said Robbie Collin in The Telegraph (U.K.). Batman (Christian Bale) has been in retirement for eight years as the film opens, having gallantly taken the blame for the death of a two-faced public official. But Bale’s Bruce Wayne dons his vigilante mask and cape once again when a muscle-bound villain named Bane (Tom Hardy) mounts a threat to Gotham City graver than any before. In a timely twist, Bane convinces the city’s recession-ravaged citizens to revolt against the businesses and institutions that have prospered while they’ve suffered. “In this film, the everyman is the most dangerous, powerful figure of them all.”

No villain here proves to be “as indelible as Heath Ledger’s Joker,” said Justin Chang in Variety. Though Hardy makes Bane “a creature of distinct malevolence,” the character is simply less interesting than Batman’s previous nemesis. Nolan compensates here by refocusing on Batman’s torn nature, aided by “the general excellence of Bale’s performance.” Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman “deliver as expected” in recurring supporting roles, said Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. Newcomers also shine, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a savvy street cop and Anne Hathaway, who brings “verve and impudence” to her turn as a cat burglar in a black leather suit.

Hathaway’s Catwoman aside, there’s little here light enough to be called mere comic-book entertainment, said Richard Corliss in Time. Nolan barely hides his disgust with Americans’ greed and laziness or his suspicion that our only hope for salvation is a superhero, meaning there’s no hope. By the time the people of Gotham confront a nuclear threat, Nolan is well on his way to confirming that “the most eagerly anticipated movie of summer 2012 was worth waiting for.” He’s created “maybe the best, most troubling, assured, and enthralling of all the superhero movies,” proving along the way that a melodrama with pulp origins can be “the modern equivalent to Greek myths or a Jonathan Swift satire.” 

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