The Dark Knight Rises

This is one of the all-time great films. The story, the screenplay, the soundtrack, the acting, the directing, the stunts, the effects—all winners!

It’s the story and its telling that give TDKR a specialness that the other Christopher Nolan Bat movies didn’t have. The others had bombast and standout performances, but TDKR has more heart and soul. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman is heroic, to be sure, but is presented here as more human and more vulnerable (in numerous ways). His transition from a limping, Howard Hughes type recluse back to Bat mode sets the film in motion.

Nolan and Nolan (director and co-writer Christopher and his co-writer brother Jonathan) give memorable lines to several of the key players. Michael Caine as Alfred is in tears as he advises Wayne not to go back into the Bat suit. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as police officer John Blake, a longtime Wayne admirer, tells Wayne his emotional story of life in an orphanage. Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon hesitates to tell the truth about Batman, lest he mar the legacy of Harvey Dent.

The ladies are better in this Bat movie. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kay/Catwoman is a beguiling mix of evil and good. Plus, she looks terrific in the leather jumpsuit. Marion Cotillard as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate shares a romantic interlude with Bruce Wayne and is a key character in significant plot points.

Tom Hardy is evil incarnate as Bane, the terrorist who brings fear and havoc to Gotham. His mask and haunting voice bring to mind classic bad guy Darth Vader. Bane’s violent acts will prompt recollections of NYC’s 9/11 terrorist attacks. His band of thugs commandeers certain defense assets to do harm to Gotham and its defenders.

If this is a movie you plan to see, get into your movie house sooner rather than later. TDKR has content you want to enjoy on the big screen (IMAX, preferably) instead of a small screen. This review contains no spoilers, but others will. Be careful monitoring online forums and social media feeds, so as not to be burned by those who tell too much.

“The Dark Knight Rises” has iconic scenes and dialogue that will endure in my personal movie memory scrapbook for a long time. Expect multiple awards nominations and wins at year’s end. The movie adds another notch to Christopher Nolan’s reputation as one of our great movie storytellers. Like his “Inception,” TDKR is a movie to be enjoyed many times over. But don’t wait for the DVD or Blu-Ray. Witness true greatness at a theater near you ASAP.

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“Extremely Loud and Dangerously Close” [And Slightly Manipulative]

ELADC engages in trickery. First off, we are tricked into expecting a Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock movie—wrong! Yes, they are in the movie, but just a bit. It’s not really their movie; ELADC is really about the kid.

The kid is Oskar, played by the precocious Thomas Horn. Horn is one of the best kid actors since Haley Joel Osment amazed us in “The Sixth Sense.” His character is charming, articulate, intelligent, sweet and likeable. He’d better have all those qualities, because he’s in practically every scene.

The movie is manipulative in that Oskar’s dad (Tom Hanks) is killed in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. We hear his voicemail messages. We see images of the burning WTC buildings. Having seen replays of the event—and revisited some of the emotions of that fateful day—on the recent 10th anniversary of the attacks, we are primed to have a stronger emotional empathy for Oskar and his quest. I blame the novelist (on whose book the script is based) for tying this story to 9/11.

Oskar finds a key that had been apparently hidden away by his late father. He then begins a quest to find out who the key belongs to and its significance. The story of the quest would’ve been just as compelling without the 9/11 connection. (But maybe not so marketable. I call “cheap manipulation.”)

When the story is finally resolved, cue the tear ducts.

Oskar is a kid you want to hug and maybe even tousle his hair. Thomas Horn’s performance is excellent. But the story, to my sensibilities, falls short. (My wife, on the other hand, loved this movie.)

Also in the movie are Sandra Bullock as Oskar’s mom, Max Van Sydow as his “grandfather” and John Goodman as his building’s doorman.