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The Dark Knight Rises closes the trilogy of so successfully rebooted Batman franchise by director Christopher Nolan.

Together with the artistic merit, the most anticipated movie of 2012 arrives with strong political and cultural ambitions. The movie deals with societal upheaval, class warfare, urban unrest, personal sacrifice, and spiritual salvation. The Dark Knight Rises is inspired by works of Charles Dickens, a favorite of both the director and his coscreenwriter brother. This is the right Batman story for a post-9/11 age of social anxiety.

This time the bad guy is a thuggish baldy named Bane (Tom Hardy). Bane is distinguished mostly by his ornate helmet, with a bizarre clawlike mouthpiece. As the story begins, Bane arrives in Gotham City, a metropolis now supposedly lawful-and-orderly but actually rotten to the core. Since district attorney Harvey Dent was supposedly martyred in The Dark Knight, crime is under control, but societal disorder is extensive. Bane plans to turn over class inequality with a grand plan for subversion because he is really mad, for reasons having to do with a really lousy childhood.

Social commentary aside, the comic-book conventions are still left intact – minor female deceit is represented by cat burglar Selina Kyle, a feline vamp played by Anne Hathaway. Marion Cotillard provides further feminine mutability as rich philanthropist Miranda Tate. Morgan Freeman returns as Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox, calm and handy with computers. And police Commissioner Gordon, once again played with by Gary Oldman, proves to be a Dickens fan himself.

Chaos is the main theme of The Dark Knight Rises, often in gorgeous, grand scenes that only Nolan could have directed. Yet, when the apocalyptic dust settles on this closing chapter, the character who remains longest in memory is an average Gotham City cop named John Blake, wonderfully played with human-scale clarity by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It is, Nolan says, a far, far harder thing to do everyday good than to steer a Batmobile.

 

 


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