How do you do better than the best? Christopher Nolan was faced with this dilemma after 2008's mega-hit "The Dark Knight" and to be fair, most filmmakers who get to the trilogy mark face this impossible task. There's a certain camp that always favors second installment in a trilogy. It's the darkest of the three. Look at "Back to the Future Part 2" "The Empire Strikes Back" or the Tobey Maguire "Spider-man" series. Haunting, tragic and unresolved, the second film leaves us dying for more.
But inevitably, since the third promises pay-off, it's a common tendency to go over the top. It's the movie that's meant to please; it's meant to tie it all up. Also, the third film tends to be the most palatable (and often pandering) to the widest audience.
So, how did "The Dark Knight Rises" do compared to other franchise finales? Nolan's Batman films start off on a level high above any comic book film that's been made in the last ten years, so we're going to say that right off the bat (no pun intended!) it's leaps and bounds better than the rest.
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But we did have a few gripes with this installment. This sentiment that Selena Kyle whispers to Bruce Wayne in the trailer -- about how the rich had left so little for the rest of us -- seemed like an easy nod to the Occupy movement that was inserted into the story as an afterthought. Trying to make a point about the wealthy, about class disparity is getting a bit stale in film ("Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps" put the final nail in the coffin for the financial disaster storyline). It could've given the film an edge if that angle was developed further, but it's placement in the story felt haphazard.
Otherwise, this film is completely stunning, near-perfect and visually amazing. Anne Hathaway sheds her theater-geek aura to perfectly inhabit the slinky, sexy Catwoman. Tom Hardy's face may be obscured for most of the film, but his presence is dutifully menacing. Christian Bale, as a beaten down man, earned a new level of respect for his rendition of the caped crusader. It's rare that Hollywood puts out a series this impressive. We can only anxiously await what Mr. Nolan will do next.
If you go
“The Dark Knight Rises”
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy