Reviewed by Lamar Kukuk
Warner Bros.’ first Batman movie franchise was wracked with instability: directors Tim Burton and Joel Shumacher presided over four films that featured three different actors in the role of Batman and quickly flamed out after Shumacher’s Batman & Robin epitomized a certain kind of Hollywood thinking about superheroes that begins and ends with what awesome Halloween costumes their uniforms make. Eight years later, Christopher Nolan, a rising star after the success of Memento, signed on to take Bob Kane’s iconic Caped Crusader in a different direction with an origin story grounded in a more relatable and realistic world. But no one could have imagined that Batman Begins would change EVERYTHING, helping to transition the superhero movie from a fringe subgenre to which studios were afraid to commit large budgets to the dominant kind of sci-fi fantasy blockbuster. Nolan’s widely acclaimed 2008 sequel The Dark Knight would reign until earlier this year as the highest-grossing superhero movie ever made, and now the director and his core cast return for a third and final go-round to complete the most cohesive and artistically successful superhero trilogy yet mounted. The Dark Knight Rises does not reach the heights of its predecessor (it’s too long and sprawls a bit too epically for its own good at times), but it is still quite an achievement, filled with strong performances, telling a thematically rich story about the risks of anarchy posed by the inequitable distribution of wealth, and capping the Dark Knight saga with a brilliant flourish. Take a bow, Chris, you did good.
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