No film this year faces higher expectations than "The Dark Knight Rises," the ambitious conclusion to Christopher Nolan's pitch-black Batman trilogy. And yet, like the caped crusader himself, Nolan has been known to pull off some pretty remarkable feats — the latest being that "Rises" appears to live up to the hype.
The Times' own Kenneth Turan calls "The Dark Knight Rises" a "dazzling conclusion" that "is more than an exceptional superhero movie, it is masterful filmmaking by any standard." Although it "might be the bleakest, most despairing superhero film ever made," it remains "potent, persuasive and hypnotic" and matches the quality of the previous two films. The script, by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, with a story credit for David S. Goyer, "brings a whiff of contemporary societal trends," a rare but welcome element in the superhero genre.
New cast members Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Anne Hathaway all perform admirably, and Nolan's "top-flight crew" — including cinematographer Wally Pfister and composer Hans Zimmer — delivers the goods once again.
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe chimes in with a helpful reminder: "In case you’d forgotten … this is what a superhero movie is supposed to look like." Nolan, he writes, "brings his Batman trilogy to a close with a majestic, almost completely satisfying crash." As Batman, Christian Bale "brings the crazy-eyed intensity that makes him so alarmingly enjoyable to watch," and Hardy "disappears far beneath the surface of this character while suggesting hideous depths." Even so, Hathaway is unexpectedly "the film's chief delight, completely at home in ball gown or cat suit, kickboxing thugs with a serrated stiletto heel, and keeping Wayne/Batman off-balance with acidly deployed taunts."