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Wednesday, April 17
The Indiana Daily Student

Rises to the occasion

Bane and the Bat armwrestle for Gotham.

Near the beginning of Christopher Nolan’s final chapter of his Dark Knight trilogy, Batman learns his new flying vehicle, appropriately named “the Bat,” is not equipped with autopilot.

Seemingly, neither was anyone involved in the production of the film.

“The Dark Knight Rises” — bigger, longer and, for better or worse, stuffed with more complicated ideas than either of the series’ first two entries — does not rest on the franchise’s laurels.

Series veterans Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman turn in their best performances yet, and Christian Bale is phenomenal.

We see more Bruce Wayne than Batman in this outing, and Bale’s acting makes the character one of the film’s greatest attributes.

Special attention must also be given to new additions to the cast — Anne Hathaway’s sexy and soulful Selina Kyle (Catwoman, though she’s never called that in the film) and Joseph Gordon Levitt’s uncompromising, inspiring beat cop John Blake.

Tom Hardy, while not as iconic as Heath Ledger’s Joker, brings a wonderful theatricality to the vicious Bane, a terrorist bent on tearing down Gotham to give the city back to its people, locking those who get in his way inside a massive Escher-like prison.

And he does tear Gotham down. The film goes to some dark places.

Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister fill each frame with the realism and grit that has made the series a standout among superhero movies.

Billed as “the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend,” the movie is huge, yet the spectacle still feels grounded. Each punch lands not with a “Pow!” but a brutal thwack.

Even so, “The Dark Knight Rises” seems to be the most comic book-influenced of the trilogy. With some tweaks, Bane’s origin remains intact. Selina Kyle and Batman trade one-liners and sexual tension. Old members of the hero’s rogue gallery reappear.

Two similar revelations toward the movie’s end will either have long-time Batman fans grinning or slapping their foreheads.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is not without issues.

While Hans Zimmer’s score is as thrilling as ever, he’s flying solo this time, and co-scorer James Newton Howard’s contributions are missed. Some key scenes are screaming out for a return of the Wayne family theme first heard in “Batman Begins.”

It’s certainly overstuffed, too, and the pacing suffers. The plot is overly convoluted and features a very convenient McGuffin.

With the number of themes and characters being explored here, and the twists and revelations that come in the film’s finale, “The Dark Knight Rises” often seems like it could collapse under its own weight.

But, like the Bat, it somehow defies all that gravity and soars.

By Jake New

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