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The Dark Knight Rises 
Christopher Nolan's Third Outting Is Still A Charm
3.5/4 stars

With ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, Director Christopher Nolan delivers his third and (he claims) final chapter of his take on the iconic comic book character, Batman. In doing so, Nolan manages to weave in elements and characters from the previous two installments, ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) and ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), while completing the story arc of a complex hero who operates outside of the law, but who’s motives are entirely altruistic and just. Having followed trilogy from it’s beginning, I found the results were quite satisfying.

Opening with a scene that contains an airplane high jacking like you’ve never imagined; the story picks up 8 years after the end of ‘The Dark Night’. Following Harvey Dent’s death, Batman has claimed responsibility for Dent’s misdeeds to preserve Dent’s reputation. In recognition of Dent’s official record, the city granted extended authority (referred to as the Dent Act) to Commissioner Gordon, allowing him to stamp out most organized crime in Gotham. Batman has disappeared and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse in Wayne Manor. Feeling quite safe and secure, many in the Gotham City Police department are unprepared for the breadth and depth of treachery that a new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy), is about to unleash. Also new to the series is the character, Selina Kyle, a cat burglar with mysterious ties to Bane, played to amazing effect by Anne Hathaway.

To be sure, all the regulars are here; Christian Bale as Batman; Michael Cain as the ever faithful but worrisome servant; Gary Oldham as Commissioner Gordon; and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, among others. In addition to the new characters noted above, we also have Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a wealthy member of the board of Wayne Enterprises. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is cast as a beat cop who suddenly finds himself working directly for Commissioner Gordon. There also a number of surprise cameos including current and past members of the Pittsburg Steelers as players for the football team, Gotham Rouges.

As with most works by writer/director Nolan (his brother Jonathan, who he often collaborates with, shares a writing credit here) the story is carefully crafted, the movie well laid out and executed. That’s not to say that the story is completely predictable, because there are some surprising twists and turns as this 2 hr and 45 minute film plays out. It did seem to drag in just a couple spots, but I also felt that because it was claimed to be the last installment, it couldn’t be long enough. I saw this in IMAX, the camera technology that Nolan used to film this installment with. The larger format takes full advantage of the long cityscape shots frequently used and adds to the viewer’s ‘immersion’ factor.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ certainly plumbs the depths and darker side of Christian Bale’s character, and really seems to heap on the gloom and doom aspect with Bane’s villainous plot, but again the fairly complex script plays out well and leads to both a satisfying set of conclusions and leaves open the way for anyone else who wishes to pick up the reigns of this franchise and explore further. The audience’s applause as the credits rolled echoed my own satisfaction with the film.

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