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'The Dark Knight Rises' surpasses expectations

By Shawn O'Neill

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, July 19 2012 4:44 p.m. MDT

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, left, and Michael Caine as Alfred in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Ron Phillips, Warner Bros.

Enlarge photo»

If you are old enough, you will remember a commercial that featured Carly Simon singing the song “Anticipation” and a shot of ketchup slowly moving down the neck of the bottle. It seemed that ketchup would never reach the burger it was destined to accompany. The same ad could have run for “The Dark Knight Rises.” It has seemed like so long since the last installment of the Christopher Nolan Batman series.

This is the most anticipated film of the year. Others were on the waiting list but, other than “The Hobbit,” would any of them generate the buzz of this film? The finale of Nolan’s Batman trilogy has generated a lot of hype, as trailers came out and then photos. We have all been waiting, but now the wait is over and our patience has been rewarded, in a big way.

Batman has taken the fall for the death of Harvey Dent, and for eight years the city of Gotham has been free of organized crime due to the Dent Act. Harvey Dent is revered as having cleaned up the streets of Gotham.

Despite being a recluse now, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) allows a function to be held at his mansion honoring Harvey Dent. One of the servers is recruited to take a tray up to the drawing room. Her name is Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). Bruce greets Selina by shooting an arrow into a target she is standing near. Selina has deftly helped herself to a set of pearls owned by Bruce’s mother. She escapes with the pearls, but that is not the only thing she was there to take.

Outside of Gotham, a plan is being formed to take the city down. Bane (Tom Hardy) is a mercenary who kidnaps a nuclear scientist and then sets up shop underneath the city to begin his operations. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is captured by Bane and his men, but he escapes and gets word to Bruce Wayne that a threat is coming.

Wayne must now make a choice: Does he come out of retirement and don the cape and cowl or let someone else take care of the problem? Alfred (Michael Caine) sees Bane as the downfall for Batman and warns him not to take on this responsibility. Weighing on his decision is the fact that Bane was once a student of Ra’s Al Ghul and was a member of the League of Shadows, but was excommunicated for being too radical. This is the same person who instructed Bruce Wayne in the art of war. Batman does go after Bane, but it may not be the right choice for him or the city.

So what is the payoff for being patient since 2008 when Christopher Nolan gave us "The Dark Knight" and the wonderful performance from the cast in that film? Simply put, an even better film.

At the premiere, Hathaway was asked why this film was so good and her answer was simply, “Christopher Nolan.” He was able to share his vision of Batman’s world with the cast, and they translated it very well to the screen. Hardy’s performance is enthralling as he encompasses the ruthlessness of the Joker with the steadiness of Ra’s Al Guhl.

For many, it was a stretch to see that Hathaway was chosen for the role of Catwoman. Put aside any trepidation you may have had; she is the quintessential Catwoman, claws and all.

What is there for parents to contemplate if they want their kids to see this PG-13 film? Violence is the biggest factor, much of it including hand-to-hand combat, guns and munitions. There is some sensuality with a scene of a couple covered up sleeping in front of a fireplace. As for nudity, Bruce Wayne and Bane are seen shirtless, and a woman is covered in a blanket.

Nolan and his cast and crew have made a film that is intriguing for the whole two hours and 45 minutes that it runs. Yes, you do need to pace your intake of liquids for this film, but there is nothing that should be cut out. In fact, many fans will be waiting to see if there is a director’s cut so they can see more. The edges of seats in theaters will be worn out by the time this film has finished its run.

Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.

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