The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine
Class warfare, terrorism, 9/11 and societal collapse flicker ominously throughout "The Dark Knight Rises," Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman film, a work of escapist entertainment that also poses IMAX-sized questions about America and its recently-rocked foundations.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but "The Dark Knight Rises" is an epic send-off to a character, and a franchise, that made it safe for superheroes to get serious.
Though not so serious that fans won't enjoy it.
Opening eight years after "The Dark Knight" with a rusty Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) emerging from self-imposed exile, "The Dark Knight Rises" introduces two Batman villains. One is Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a lowborn cat-burglar who preys on the rich, and the other is Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked monstrosity who stokes the populist rage of Gotham while leading it toward doom.
Hathaway's sneer is almost as deadly as her serrated high-heels, and her anti-elitist sarcasm provides the film's few moments of humor; Hardy's tank-like body is a thing of impressive ugliness.
Things bog down badly with a late-hour spiritual odyssey, but "The Dark Knight is a satisfyingly grand finale and - surprise, surprise - a rousing opening chord to another.
Rafer Guzman is a Newsday staff writer.