Underneath all the thunderous action sequences of The Dark Knight Rises is a tender love story between Bruce Wayne (Batman -- Christian Bale) and Salina (Catwoman -- Anne Hathaway). When they dance at a charity ball to Ravel's Pavane for a Dying Princess and their dialogue is so romantic, I thought perhaps this was going to be a softer, gentler Batman. But no the violence and drama which begins the film quickly rears its momentous head and we are off to another 'how to save Gotham City.' I would have liked to have seen more tenderness in this film and less shoot 'em up, but what we have works as a long study in how not to destroy Gotham.
Bruce Wayne is recuperating from having taken the rap for Dent's crimes when he finds himself compelled to protect Gotham from a new force of evil in the form of a monster Bane (Tom Hardy) who wears a hideous mouthpiece covering a former injury. Unfortunately his dialogue is muffled at times due to this gear and one is never sure if he is speaking or if it is all voice over as we never see his lips move. Alas this is a Batman sequel and at times we just must go with the flow and not question the obvious.
But it is Catwoman who steals not only Bruce Wayne's mother's pearl necklace and his heart, but who also steals this film. Anne Hathaway's timing and movement is impeccable. Her delivery is flawless and she adds wit to violent scenes that is much needed to offset the darkness of the Dark Knight Rises. When she plays opposite Batman, she makes him appear bland as she practically rips the celluloid from the film. Hot she is and fast, nimble and audible which not all the characters are.
Gary Oldman is the competent Commissioner Gordon. Michael Caine as the faithful butler Alfred has a very moving scene when he tells Bruce Wayne that he can no longer watch Master Wayne endanger his health and must quit. Enter Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox who runs Wayne Enterprises for Batman. Then there is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is John Blake, a hard-nosed Gotham beat cop, and who can add his performance to his up and coming career of being one of the crackerjack newcomers to watch. Lastly French beauty Marian Coutillard as Miranda Tate plays a member of Wayne Enterprises Board of Directors.
Technologically speaking no penny was left unturned. We have the glorious destruction of Wall Street, which should sell tickets, but it is the pace of writer-director Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan's brother, Jonathan, co-wrote) that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn, M&Ms and soda for this treat 'cause you are not going to want to leave the theatre for its full two hours and 30 minutes that will fly by faster than Bruce Wayne's Batmobile renamed for this version 'the Bat.' And when you see it fly, you'll see why.
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