The Dark Knight Rises is a visual feast but hollow at its core
Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine. Rated PG. Now playing
At a running time of almost two hours and forty-five minutes, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is in no hurry to get out of bed.
Of course, these days, mornings aren’t the best time for Batman or his alter ego, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale, returning to the dual role for the third time). As the movie opens, we see that Wayne has been spending far too much time in his overpriced bathrobe. His loyal butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), is so worried he sounds like a cockney Dr. Phil.
As anyone who saw 2008’s The Dark Knight knows, Wayne has plenty of reasons for cocooning. He’s been damaged spiritually, emotionally, and physically. No wonder he’s decided to hang up his cape.
It takes a sultry Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) to revive Batman’s crime-fighting appetite. Not to mention the evil Bane (Tom Hardy), a villain who resembles a bouncer in a strip bar and—thanks to respiratory difficulties—wears a mask that looks like the grill on a 1930s roadster. Although he’s no match for Heath Ledger’s Joker, he does a mean imitation of Darth Vader.
Not surprisingly, there’s a fair amount to recommend here. The film looks dangerously stunning, like a piece of chocolate cake loaded with poisonous icing. The supporting cast—which includes such heavyweights as Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, and Gary Oldman—adds genuine gravity to the plot, helping, thankfully, to undercut excessive doses of cartoonish excess. Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings admirable conviction to the role of a young cop who befriends Wayne.
And yet, despite all the quality lavished on-screen, there’s something missing. It’s not just that the pace feels sluggish or the action sequences seem all too familiar. It’s that the film feels hollow at the core. As a director, Christopher Nolan has plenty of time and money to do as he pleases. But no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t buy heart.
Watch the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises.