9   +   8   =  

the dark knight rises2012

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman

Well, it’s finally arrived. Christopher Nolan’s third film in his relatively unplanned trilogy. Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes, and in a summer dominated by the hilariously enjoyable ‘Avengers Assemble’ it’s reassuring and refreshing to get the flip side of the coin; a grown up superhero movie.

In this story we catch up with Bruce Wayne eight years after the events of ‘The Dark Knight’ and he is still carrying the burden of taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s misdemeanours. He has become a recluse. A recluse that has a broken body and is a shadow of his former self. Gotham is now peaceful but there is trouble brewing.

That trouble is Bane. Bane is a formidable villain. A hulking sod of a man with a mask over his mouth to keep him alive. He rasps his lines through said mask in a tinny fashion. Brilliantly played by Tom Hardy, he is powerful, clever and wouldn’t think twice about snapping your neck like a twiglet if you got on his nerves. Bane is the leader of an underground army hellbent on causing all manner of problems for the good people of Gotham.

Thrown into the mix is Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who is an experienced ‘cat’ burglar (interestingly she is not once referred to as ‘catwoman’ in the film) and clearly her aim is self preservation. The clever way she plays people and can be a honey trap of sorts is played expertly well. She is manipulative and always has a plan. You can tell deep down she is good, but she clearly enjoys being bad. I wasn’t overly a fan of Anne Hathaway until seeing her in this, and she’s quite obviously the actor who runs away with the film (not literally).

Other cast members include Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, who’s role is a little underwritten but, without giving too much away there may be reason for that, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake who is an idealistic young cop who has a lot in common with Bruce Wayne. There are also reliable performances from the old hands of the series; Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine.

As the story progresses you realise that Batman/Bruce Wayne is not the man he used to be, and this is a man who is pitted against his hardest challenge yet. Christian Bale reprises his Bruce Wayne role which he is clearly at ease with playing… but as Batman (who, to be fair, doesn’t seem to get as much screen time as you’d expect) his voice is just as silly as it has been… he stills sounds like an angry pirate trying to pass a gallstone. Slight vocal niggles aside, what Christopher Nolan and his team have created is a very involving, enjoyable film. Subtle special effects, beautiful music (something that has been consistent throughout this series) and the cinematography is superb. Nolan utilises the IMAX camera more extensibly compared to The Dark Knight (about 50 minutes worth of footage shot in this format compared to The Dark Knight’s 25 minutes) making for some extremely beautiful looking scenes and locations. It’s masterful filmmaking. Nolan’s decision to avoid using 3D is commendable too, no doubt he may have had a bit of pressure for this from studio heads (possibly) but I have heard Nolan hates 3D (possibly). 3D is an impressive tool but sometimes it can be a distraction… and it certainly would have been for this.

There are a couple of downsides to the film, however. It has to be said I sometimes struggled to understand what the hell Bane was saying sometimes. The voice is muffled and, with no lips to read, it can be a chore piecing it all together. The running time is rather bum-numbing (although it’s hard to say it ‘dragged’ when it is so involving) and the only other thing that bugged me was Michael Caine. He appears to spend the whole film crying. Obviously there is emotion to be had in his scenes but it was off-putting… perhaps because I kept thinking about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s chat about Michael Caine in ‘The Trip’ (if you haven’t seen that moment, look it up on youtube…)

Taking the film as a whole though, looking past pained sounding pirates, men sounding like they’re talking through a malfunctioning metal kettle and an OAP breaking down in every scene they’re in, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is the must see film of this year. If anything, just for the final 30 minutes which is suprising, thrilling, shocking, heartwarming and ultimately a cliff hanger that probably won’t be resolved anytime soon. A very fitting send off to a brilliant series of films.

★★★★

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