There weren't many summer movies that made my heart race with expectation, but this was one of them (just FYI, Prometheus was the other). I, my friends, am a Bat-o-phile. I watched Adam West on TV back when I was just a wee one, and my cousin and I played Batman and Robin for hours on end, running around fighting the evil cows and pigs. I stood in line to see the Tim Burton series back in the '90's (despite the fact that they couldn't freaking make up their mind on who exactly was Batman...Michael Keaton? Val Kilmer? George Clooney?). I have fully invested in the latest series, all written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring a very consistent cast of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. These movies are smart, plot-driven, with well-drawn and fascinating characters, and the balls to throw important characters under the bus.
Going into this movie, I knew it was the final of the trilogy. How on earth will they end this thing and still leave me, the addict, at peace? How on earth will they be able to follow up the absolutely mind-blowing Oscar-winning performance of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight? And Anne Hathaway in a cat suit? I walked into the theater mentally swaggering, thinking "Bring. It. On.".
Eight years have passed since Batman took the fall for the death of Harvey Dent. That, combined with Rachel's death, has forced Bruce Wayne into seclusion. But now, an ex-communicated member of the League of Shadows, Bane (Tom Hardy), is wreaking havoc on Gotham, and attempting to ultimately destroy it. Also running amuck about town is cat-burglar Selina Kyle. Between the two terrorists, Wayne feels compelled to circle the wagons with the help of Alfred and Fox, and bring Batman out of retirement.
Bring it on they did. The recurring cast of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman has become emotional for me at this point. They are family, man. They are all superior actors. They have a place in the story, and they pull all the threads together.
But the new guys are equally as amazing. I have a place in my heart for Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor, Inception) but BANE? His gorgeous face is covered up, but look at the man! I'd like to have the name of his trainer, introduce him to Andre. I can't say there was a whole lot of acting going on behind the mask...it was all just menacing robotic stuff. He sure doesn't match up with the Joker...but his backstory was compelling.
The addition of Oscar-winning Marion Cotillard (Midnight In Paris, Inception, La Vie En Rose) as love interest and rich chick was intriguing. And Cat Woman! I knew that Hathaway could act (highly recommend you see her in Rachel Getting Married), but she does a good roundhouse kick in stilettos, and looked pretty hot in that suit. There is no room for a cupcake with that suit. Rounding up the new kids, how about Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), that little cutie? Methinks we will be seeing more of him (wink, wink)...
It isn't necessary BUT EXTREMELY HELPFUL if you have seen the previous movies, because prior characters and plot threads are incorporated into this grande finale. There is baggage that has been stored in the overhead bins and have come crashing down on our heads in the turbulence of this third installment.
The effects are nothing particularly special, except for one particular event of bombing the underground tunnels beneath the Gotham pro stadium, forcing the running back to scurry like hell while the earth falls apart behind him. That was cool. The attraction, though, is the actors, the screenplay, and the insanely satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that will go down in movie history as the best of them all.
Just one word of advice. Don't drink too much while you are watching...this is a long movie (close to 3 hours). As a testament to the tension, I sat with my legs crossed for a very long time, afraid I was going to miss something important.
4.5 out of 5 stars