Published July 19, 2012
A 5-star 'Dark Knight'BY SOREN ANDERSEN
When Batman Begins came out in 2005, I thought it was the best Batman movie ever. Dark, expansive and beautifully shot, it was incredibly moving in the way it presented Bruce Wayne as a tormented, angry soul scarred by the murder of his parents who adopts the guise of the Batman to visit fearsome retribution on the evildoers afflicting Gotham City. Now, with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, director/co-writer Christopher Nolan has again made the best Batman movie ever. Or rather, hes completed the best Batman movie ever. Because its now clear that Nolans three movies in the series Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises constitute a single epic. The Dark Knight Rises, Nolans final chapter in the saga, links tightly back to the previous two pictures, amplifying themes and deepening relationships established earlier. An intimate knowledge of his first two movies is necessary for a viewer to fully appreciate the ambitious nature of what Nolan has been attempting, and to see how he succeeds brilliantly in completing, with his third. Theyre all pieces of a huge tapestry.Batman has always been the most anguished of comic book superheroes, a brooding figure battling inner demons as fiercely as he battles criminals. And in The Dark Knight Rises, once again led powerfully by Christian Bale, hes tormented and tested as never before. In relentless fashion, everything is taken from Bruce Wayne: relationships, riches, power, health. Every conceivable thing. Hes basically reduced to his naked essence and imprisoned in a literal pit of suffering. There, he must look deep within himself to discover the true nature of that essence, to learn, finally, who and what he truly is. And then he must somehow put himself back together and try to save himself and his beloved Gotham.The agent of his downfall is a monstrous brute named Bane (Tom Hardy, ferociously good), a muscled, masked and utterly remorseless creature, born in hell, forged in suffering, hardened by pain, as one character puts it. And he understands Wayne, and Batman, like no other man because their origins are intertwined in a manner that, though we didnt know it at the time, was foreshadowed in Batman Begins. Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has been in self-imposed exile after taking the blame for the death of Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent. And Wayne is a limping billionaire recluse (being Batman is hard on the body), hiding out in the rebuilt Wayne Manor. When Bane rises up out of the sewers to methodically terrorize Gotham in a series of phenomenal, explosive set-piece scenes, Batman reluctantly resurrects himself to deal with the threat. A sleekly lethal Catwoman, played with impressive style and guile by Anne Hathaway, is an adversary who might become an ally. A capable young cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a more reliable collaborator.Series regulars Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles as butler Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and techno-whiz Lucius Fox respectively. Nolans screenplay, co-written with his brother Jonathan Nolan, has a number of jolting twists, and it contains a significant social commentary subtext with Bane and Catwoman plaguing the privileged one percent of Gotham.The saga is now complete, and its a monumental achievement.