Heath Ledger’s Joker was too good, and the movie was too perfect for any other Batman movie to ever live up to.
But director Christopher Nolan still had a few things up his sleeve, and, even though TDKR is no TDK, it still made for one fun ride.
The movie picks up eight years after Harvey Dent’s death, which incited the Gotham City officials to pass laws keeping criminals locked up without the possibility of parole.
So, basically, with crime pretty much abolished, Batman has nothing to do but mope around his mansion and deal with the pain of his lost love, Rachel Dawes, whom the Joker killed or Batman failed to save, take your pick, in TDK.
Bruce Wayne, again played by Christian Bale, is now battered and beaten and is forced to use a cane just to get around.
Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, the alias of Catwoman, though the moniker is never uttered in the movie, basically shows up at a benefit, steals a pearl necklace from Wayne and tells him there’s a guy in a mask running around town fixing to burn the city to the ground.
Tom Hardy plays the baddie this time around, and even though he’s known to western audiences from movies such as “Warrior” and “This Means War,” he seems to be channeling one of his first notable film roles, Bronson, where he played the most violent criminal in the world.
Bane is basically a cult leader with followers willing to sacrifice themselves for Bane’s cause, which is to destroy Gotham City and Batman. He has no moral code at all and will viciously kill anyone that stands in his way, including his own henchmen.
But it’s his voice, speaking through a mask that is keeping him alive, that really is clever.
His voice hisses like a sort of vaudevillian Darth Vader, both over the top and menacing.
Nolan tried to go in the opposite direction by giving Batman a villain who is physically and mentally superior.
The first time the two meet, Batman is in no way ready for the fight. Having spent eight years doing nothing, he dons the suit and runs headfirst to battle Bane, even after hearing about how ruthless the guy is.
It doesn’t make sense, but it furthers the plot as Batman becomes Bane’s plaything and gets pummeled in a way we’ve never seen Batman beaten before.
The plot gets a little muddled along the way, with Wayne Enterprises suddenly losing all its money, because Wayne was busy doing nothing.
And characters show up and disappear to locales extremely fast. The ties to the first film in the franchise, “Batman Begins,” pop in and out.
And just as in the comics, Bane does break Batman’s back, but not bad enough, because it takes him a mere two and a half months before Batman’s at it again, trying to save Gotham from a nuclear explosion.
Holy neutrons, batman! An atomic bomb in Gotham!
It may seem a bit silly, and, in less capable hands, TDKR could have become a mockery of itself or a rehash of TDK with someone like the Riddler taking the Joker’s place, but the nuclear bomb threat seems real enough.
There are a few twists and turns in the plot, some expected, some not, but overall, it sort of seemed as though Nolan was tired of the franchise. Or he knew he couldn’t top his last foray in to Gotham and just settled on having a good time beating the crud out of Batman.
Either way, it’s a fitting end to a series that reached its pinnacle at the sequel but didn’t flatline at the end.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.