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Dark Knight Risen

Phillip Waller/The Daily Mississippian

First and foremost, my heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the victims of the theater shooting in Colorado.
Now, some backstory: the first movie I ever wrote a review for was “The Dark Knight,” back in 2008. Positive response to that review lead to me writing more and two years I'm still here, writing reviews for The Daily Mississippian and for your enjoyment (?). So you have Christopher Nolan to blame for having to read my dreck on a semi-weekly basis.
Now we have “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in Nolan's Batman trilogy. The movie had some lofty expectations and had to overcome the dreaded second-sequel curse (for every “Return of the Jedi,” there's a “Matrix Revolutions”). I won't waste anymore of your time; “The Dark Knight Rises” is brilliant. It also seems to have a lot of divided opinions (I'm pretty sure Roger Ebert and I watched different movies), so I'm glad you've come to me for the final say. That was a joke, but they won't let me put a winky face in my articles, so I have to clarify.
Anyway, the movie picks up eight years after “The Dark Knight." Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse and the people of Gotham City have used the death of Harvey Dent (which was blamed on Batman) to enact new laws that have essentially kept the streets clean and organized crime out of the city. However, there's a foul plot afoot, and the arrival of a new villain named Bane (Tom Hardy) leads to Bruce donning the cape and cowl once more.
The story starts off slowly, as there are a lot of new characters to introduce. This movie lacks the type of brilliant opening sequence the “The Dark Knight” had, but this is more of a slow unfolding story. Once it gets going, it never lets up.
The cast here is uniformly stellar, and “The Dark Knight Rises” is much more of an ensemble piece than the previous two. Bale, grey streaks in his hair and all, plays the weary crime fighter (who still has some fight left in him) to perfection this time. His gravelly Batman voice finally reaches a happy medium where I didn't find it too distracting and silly sounding. Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman all bring their A-game, but I'd expect no less from those three.
The new additions to the cast are all great as well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake carries the movie in many ways, and he's proving himself as one of the best and brightest actors out there. Anne Hathaway is sultry as Catwoman and is a perfect foil for Bale's Batman.
Leading up to the movie, a lot of people were complaining about Tom Hardy's voice as Bane, as in early trailers he was incomprehensible. I never had a problem understanding him in the movie and his Bane is cunning and bestial and is the perfect “final” villain for Bruce Wayne.
Marion Cotillard does her usual good job, but if I had a real complaint with the movie, it was her character. I won't ruin what becomes of her, I'll just say I liked the idea, just not the execution.
Going in, I thought it was silly to end the series after only three movies. After all, there are so many great Batman stories that you could get a few more sequels out, but after seeing the movie I'm pleased that it ends the way it does. It gives us what we'll never get from the comics: a real ending. The ending doesn't answer every question or tie every single thread up into a nice little bow, but it's deeply satisfying and well deserved.
I loved this movie even though, like the two previous Bat-movies, there are some glaring plot holes and illogical ideas. This movie is an experience and nitpicking it to death will ruin that experience. This is the perfect conclusion to Nolan's Batman series, and personally I hope they let Batman have a rest before they reboot him again. I give “The Dark Knight Rises” five burning bat-symbols out of five.