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Film & DVD

'The Dark Knight Rises'

Nolan's bat-finale reaches the top rung on the ladder

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

The Dark Knight Rises covers such ground so compellingly that one almost forgets how brilliantly performed and photographed it all is. The hour or so of IMAX footage makes even the bleakest scenarios look sumptuous; Hathaway’s charismatic grifter masquerades are a real revelation; and Bale, in particular, turns in his most empathic performance of the trilogy. Even with two-thirds of his face obscured by the batmask he eventually dons, he makes us feel the passion and the pain of a man who’s desperate to transcend his past failings.

Wayne resolves early on to join the battle anew; almost as quickly, he realizes that throwing his aging, battered body into the ring against Bane might entail paying the ultimate sacrifice. Yet nobody around him – least of all his ever-more-conflicted butler, Alfred (Michael Caine) – will let him make that sacrifice for the wrong reasons, and without understanding just what it means. Mere martyrdom isn’t good enough; it’s too close to masochism, and to all of the other mindsets that are the egocentric’s substitute for virtue. Forget the lust for personal glory that drives too many pulp entertainments – too many comic books, in other words. The Dark Knight Rises finds its irresistible dramatic pull in the just-in-time idea that making more of oneself isn’t just a way to dispel personal shadows, but to contribute to the common good.

Why do we rise? So we can turn right around and lift up everybody else.

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