By Dan Hagen
“The Dark Knight Rises” is the operatic Gotterdammerung of Batman stories, thunderously melodramatic and, unlike many superhero tales, genuinely suspenseful.
|Anne Hathway as Selina Kyle, the Catwoman|
The stakes are, for once, breathtakingly and convincingly high, in part because this “Tale of Two Gothams” includes echoes of real-life events — terrorist attacks, greedy plutocrats, lying political leaders and Occupy/Tea Party-style rage. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is determined and effective, and Anne Hathaway, surprisingly, is a powerful and unpredictable delight as Catwoman, a character similar in all the best ways to the Black Widow in “The Avengers.”
The hero, played for the final time by Christian Bale, endures what are essentially the agonies of the damned, and emerges all that much more heroic for it.
Despite some unconvincing emotional turns and a general lack of humor (which is a tough fit in this melodrama anyway), the film is a satisfying experience that makes comic book stories seem more real than they have any right to be.
Connect the dots between this and the brief, crude “Detective Comics” story that introduced Batman to a Depression-weary, war-haunted America in 1939, and you’ll see the process by which a society seizes upon, feeds upon and continually regenerates its own animating myths. It's a process my friend Jim Jenkins has dubbed "augustification."