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It’s entirely possible that I’ve had my fill of superhero movies this summer.
After all, I’ve seen both “The Avengers” (fun and entertaining) and “The Amazing Spider-Man” (better than the other recent Spidey incarnation) since school let out.
So maybe, just maybe, I caught “The Dark Knight Rises” with superhero burnout — kind of like trying to stuff that last turkey sandwich into your craw five days after Thanksgiving.
But of the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, I have this to say: “meh.”
Don’t get me wrong, even this final chapter, which starts off with a bang and ends with a whimper, is still better than all of the 1990s Batman movies with the possible exception of “Batman Returns” (the second one with Michael Keaton … I have trouble keeping those straight, too).
Of the three movies in Nolan’s series, this was truly the only one I was looking forward to. I largely ignored “Batman Begins” when it came out in 2005 and had no interest in “The Dark Knight” in 2008, but was dragged to it by my wife — who is a big Heath Ledger fan — to see Ledger’s posthumous Academy Award-winning portrayal of the Joker .
“The Dark Knight” was hands-down the best superhero movie I had ever seen, despite the fact I wasn’t that impressed with Ledger’s Joker. In short order, I rented “Batman Begins” and it was just one notch below “The Dark Knight.”
I’d been chomping at the bit for “Rises” for almost four years now, especially after finding out it featured Bane, the greatest of the Batman villains — Nolan did an exceptional job of picking the villains for his films. The Joker is Batman’s most famous enemy and Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow were marvelous choices for the first film.
Tom Hardy is frightening as Bane and his portrayal is the highlight of the film. Bane is launching an all-out assault on Gotham City, trying to secure a nuclear weapon manufactured by Wayne Industries to terrorize Gotham’s citizens, but to what end is something of a mystery for the first half of the film.
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), retired from Batman for eight years following the aftermath of “The Dark Knight,” stumbles on Bane’s terror plot almost by accident when he catches Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), aka Catwoman, robbing his home safe. While Catwoman appears to be after jewelry, she’s actually there to lift Wayne’s fingerprints for one of his business rivals.
When Wayne sees that Gotham City is in deep trouble, he dons the cape and cowl and returns to action as Batman. But Batman in hand-to-hand combat is no match for Bane, who does serious damage to Batman’s back before carting him off to the dungeon-like prison from whence Bane first emerged.
Batman must free himself from the prison and return to Gotham before the city is destroyed by Bane’s nuclear weapon.
There are a hundred twists and turns in the film (the biggest of which I admittedly should’ve seen coming, based on my knowledge of the source material) and to give much more away would ruin it.
But the film’s second half generally falls flat, despite the big twists the story takes. The end of the film — which I can’t elaborate on for those who haven’t seen it — is actually rather disappointing. I was expecting a grand final showdown between Batman and Bane and it just didn’t materialize in any meaningful way.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is still a pretty solid movie overall, but it leaves you wanting more, and not in the way you’d want it to.
“The Dark Knight Rises”
Running time: 2 hours,
Playing at the Reel Deal
Theater and the