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Obviously the most anticipated (Hollywood) movie of the summer, DKR has a lot to live up to: in one way, as a follow-up to the trilogy’s second installment, The Dark Knight, for which there’s little doubt that DKR can rise to the occasion and in a second way, finding something as mesmerizing as Heath Ledger’s career defining turn as The Joker. A hero’s only as good as his villains, right? Thankfully, Nolan doesn’t try to compete on that front and provides antiheroes that don’t rely completely on their eccentricities.
Nolan’s Batman films are about keeping it dark and, somewhat, believable. After Batman has been retired for eight year for taking the rap for Harvey Dent's murder at the end of the last movie, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. When Catwoman appears on the Gotham scene, she warns that something more dangerous is approaching – Bane, who may just bring ruin to all of Gotham City and forcing the Dark Knight's return.
The lack of eccentricities and gimmick does actually allow for the characters to stand out, remarkably so for Hathaway’s Catwoman (never actually called Catwoman in the film). The smart, sleek cat-burglar is at once a creature of self-interest and compassion, making choices that determine her future as she goes rather than following one singular minded conviction, and kicking some serious ass without being silly about it (“Meow”). Bane is an animal of more direct nature, but still more compelling to watch than the brute of Schumacher’s previous Batman disaster.
And for all the different running components to the movie, Nolan balances them all to make a film that, despite its near three hour running time, drags you through it like you’re tied to the Batpod careening down Gotham’s highways. Perhaps there are political undercurrents that one could read into it, but while on the ride, you’re too hooked on the adrenaline to allow them to matter too much.
The Dark Knight Rises | Directed by Christopher Nolan (USA, UK 2012) with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway. Starts July 26