The Dark Knight Rises, but is it worth watching?

Christopher Nolan’s final Batman flick is gritty, it’s mesmerizing, and boy is it ambitious. It makes for a fantastic and fitting ending, but it never reaches the heights or intrigue of the previous film, The Dark Knight. At times it loses itself to murkiness, and although fun to watch Bane lacks the proper amount of Menace that the Joker easily exuded.

It has been eight years since the Joker’s Reign of Terror tore through Gotham City, eight years since Harvey Dent was pushed over the edge, and eight years since Batman took the fall for a crime he never committed, since he ran , because that was what the city thought it needed. The great city of Gotham has never really fully embraced their caped crusader, but now he’s nothing more than a bittersweet memory.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse, locking himself away from his beloved city, and allowing everything to fall into disrepair he once supported, until a pretty cat burglar and a masked madman threaten the very safety that Wayne sacrificed so much for.

The hulk-like Bane (Tom Hardy) plans to liberate the people of Gotham from their government’s tyranny, bringing about plunging stocks, the loss of Wayne’s entire fortune and pure anarchy. Meanwhile Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) toes the line between light and dark, being ever adaptable to every situation at hand.
While this bulks up the story, the villainous elements cannot compare to the sheer brilliance of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Part of the issue with Bane, is the elaborate mask that covers most of Tom Hardy’s face hampering his performance. Hardy is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, no one could have made the character better, but between his sometimes hard to understand dialogue, and asthmatic breathing he lacks a certain scare factor. Yes he’s a different sort of villain than we’ve seen before, he’s smart AND physical, but there’s not nearly enough intensity.

However, nearly every scene between Bale and Hathaway’s Bruce and Selina Kyle/Cathwoman exude fireworks. She’s less catlike, more acrobatic, she’s fierce and assertive with all the fun and playfulness of the comics without all the cheesiness that we’ve seen from some of her predecessors. In fact, there is so much charisma between the two of them, that Wayne’s actual love interest Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is bland and unimpressive by comparison. The fact that Wayne and Tate hook up makes absolute no sense, and leaves one scratching their head in confusion.

The most moving scenes remain between Wayne and the always loyal Alfred (Michael Caine). While Bale continues to superbly portray the tortured hero of the story, Caine injects so much soul that its heart wrenching when certain truths are revealed.

And there’s also Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s detective John Blake who’s introduced. He’s wonderfully interjected into the storyline, with enough backstory, and enough charisma that the audience cares about him so much that he has spin-off potential. I'm not sure if it was just good writing, or superb acting on Gordon-Levitt's part, but Blake is almost as mesmerizing as the Bat himself.

Speaking of mesmerizing, while Liam Neeson's return was much touted and talked about, seeing Ra's Al Ghul's reemergence isn't nearly as fun as Cillian Murphy's return. Sure Ra's Al Ghul is a more integral part to the story, but the Scarecrow swinging a gavel injects just a little craziness, perfectly illustrating just how far Gotham has fallen.

Nolan is known for intelligent scripts, for making his audience really think, and all of this is on full display here. It is very long and very complicated. But more over there is a pure cinematic beauty of the movie. From sweeping landscapes, to pure destruction, each shot is artfully framed, and complimented by the music. Hans Zimmer’s musical score is so very powerful, even in the eerie quiet, its intense.

"A hero can be anyone," says Bale as Batman. But it’s going to be a long time before anyone is as pitch perfect as Bale is as the caped crusader, or a saga is better told than this one by Nolan. As many fears and doubts that I had, it is a complete and satisfying ending to the story Nolan started. Bravo boys, what a way end a legend. 


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