Question: how can you top “The Dark Knight”, one of the best (if not the best) superhero movie of all time? The answer is you can’t. But hold your horses. “The Dark Knight Rises” may not be as brilliant as its predecessor, but it’s damn near close. Christopher Nolan’s terrific conclusion to his Batman trilogy is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. There’s something raw and elemental in this artfully imagined world. Forget about Burton and Schumacher. Nolan cuts through a deeper dimension. “Batman Begins” was proof of that. “The Dark Knight” was proof of that. And now here’s the final act. But how deep can a conflicted guy in a bat suit and a guy wearing a mask get? Just wait and see. “The Dark Knight Rises” creates a place where good and evil, expected to battle to the death, decide to get it on and dance instead. “I want to break you” Tom Hardy’s Bane tells Christian Bale’s Batman. Don’t buy the tease. He means it. Problem is, Batman has been out of the game for too long (8 years to be exact). If you recall, he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s death, and was forced to stay out of the picture for good. I’m not spoiling anything here, since we already know that from “The Dark Knight”. Now Bruce Wayne is living in solitary, with his butler Alfred (the delightful Michael Caine). Both actors are joined by a superior ensemble including Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and even Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, the woman who eventually becomes Catwoman. But no one is better than Tom Hardy (brilliant in “Warrior”) who is almost unrecognizable as the villain they call Bane. Hardy’s face is covered the whole time, but his performance is electrifying, making him a worthy opponent for our hero.
But it wouldn’t be fair to give away the mysteries of “The Dark Knight Rises”. It’s enough to admire the way Christopher Nolan, a master filmmaker, be it “Memento”, “Insomnia” or “Inception”, brings comic book escapism close to enduring art. It’s enough to watch Bale’s excellent portrayal of Bruce Wayne , who is constantly at war with his own conscience. It’s enough to see Tom Hardy bring chaos and fear, as he creates a Bane for the ages. Go ahead haters, bitch about the movie being too long, at almost 3 hours. My guess is, the film will be called so many things, starting with “Bane is no Joker”. But hey, Nolan truly raised the bar following the huge success of “The Dark Knight” that anything short of greatness will be considered a disappointment. Screw it. At the end of the day, “The Dark Knight Rises” is entertainment at its best, and a fitting conclusion to one of the most successful trilogies of all time. And just try to get it out of your head. You can’t.