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Film review: 'Dark Knight Rises' is a promise fulfilled

July 20, 2012|By Andy Klein
  • Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in "The Dark… (Warner Bros. Pictures…)

And so the Christopher Nolan rendition of Batman — started in “Batman Begins” (2005) and continued in “The Dark Knight” (2008) — comes to an end, in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

It stands proudly alongside its older siblings, as good as (or better than) “Batman Begins” and better than “The Dark Knight.” I realize I'm in the minority in considering the middle film as the weakest of the three, but — unlike the first and (I anticipate) the new entry — I have never once felt the impulse to rewatch it. Too many action threads being juggled and intercut in the final stretch, and — more heresy — an initially riveting performance by Heath Ledger that overstays its welcome.

Nolan once again packs the final act with an unnecessary number of parallel threads, but they seem better balanced this time around. As a result, “The Dark Knight Rises” zips by faster than its immediate predecessor, despite being 15 minutes longer at 2 hours and 44 minutes.

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The villain is Bane, allegedly played by Tom (not Thomas) Hardy. I say “allegedly” because, except for a few seconds, Bane spends the entire film wearing a mask apparently purchased at a Hannibal Lecter yard sale and speaking in a gruff, electronically processed voice — a cross between Darth Vader and one of the bad guys from “Road Warrior.” We can take on faith that it's Hardy, but Nolan could just have substituted Harry Shearer for the audio and Steve (not Jane) Austin for the video, and no one would have been the wiser.

If the last film was packed with political resonance, this one is even more so. Rush Limbaugh has asked if anyone could possibly believe the villain's name is a coincidence; he sees it as an underhanded liberal trick to associate Mitt Romney's venture capital firm with an evil monster planning to tear down America, city by city, town by town. (Wait till Rush finds out Democratic senator Patrick Leahy has a cameo as a Wayne Industries board member.) Given that the Bane character was created in 1993 and the decision to use him in this film dates back at least two or three years, I can believe it's a coincidence; in fact, I'm quite sure it is.

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