The story of “Rises” pivots on key plot points from the 1993 “Knightfall” series by Dixon and other collaborators, but Nolan and his brother, co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, streamline elements of that storyline to fit the arc of these films — significant callbacks to 2005's “Batman Begins” show up, including thematic and aesthetic through-lines and some real and satisfying surprises. The director also continues to display a thoughtful sensibility toward casting: the core acting team including Bale, Freeman, Caine and Oldman delivers at peak levels, and the ringers from 2010's “Inception” (including Cotillard, Gordon-Levitt and Hardy) fit nicely in Nolan's repertory. Hathaway brings intelligence and sleek charm to Kyle, and in particular, Hardy overcomes the considerable challenge of acting without most of his face showing (his situation is roughly an inversion of Bale's) and still coming on like a palpable threat.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is nearly three hours long, but it moves forward with the assurance that comes from great, uncompromised storytelling, and its conclusion flouts the conventions of its genre. But as this trilogy ends, that seems to be the point: like its predecessors, “The Dark Knight Rises” does not seem to know it's a summer event movie, and it is all the better for it.
— George Lang
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“The Dark Knight Rises”