The Dark Knight Rises

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 164 mins
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman
Genre: Comic book, Action, Thriller
Country: USA

Eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight and the faithful night in which Batman shouldered the sins of Two Face.  Wayne Manor has been restored.  The Bat-Man silent.  Gotham is a city at peace, but all good things must come to an end.  When a CIA extradition goes wrong a new form of terrorism is released upon the streets of America’s greatest city and the Dark Knight must rise to protect her citizens.

In the years since Heath Ledger’s death Christopher Nolan has had plenty of time to remodel and reshape the vision that is his conclusion of a dark yet beautiful trilogy.  Bruce Wayne (Bale) is unlike any Bruce Wayne we have been treated to before, the repercussions of his one man crusader laid bare on his person.  A broken, ailing shadow of a self once so spritely and determined.  The arrival of Bane (Hardy) and the single greatest act of terrorism on U.S soil (now iconic amongst Batman fans) has called upon a now reluctant hero.  As always Nolan crafts a narrative and a Gotham of realism, the story takes it’s time, successes and failures (with regards to character arches) are earned and all the more appreciated for it.  The tale laid out is one of consequence and redemption and where Batman Begins had spades of originality, The Dark Knight an anarchic almost biblical clash of will, The Dark Knight Rises is filled with heart.  Bane’s strategic is one of crushing the spirit of the enemy, giving them enough hope that when you take it away it destroys them.  Gotham still has believers in Batman, men like Jim Gordon (Oldman) and newcomer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who believe in the Dark Knight and have the heart and will to take a stand to be counted.  It’s also a film for the fans, those of us who suffered through the bleak and mishandled days, those of us who have never had it so good than when Nolan was behind the lens.  In many ways the heart of the film is for us.

Bale showcases something else here.  Begins saw his evolution, Knight found him hitting his stride but Rises is a human story about the human cost of a stand against the mob.  Bale carries that burden incredibly well, there are moments that’ll remind audiences of the frailty of The Machinist or Rescue Dawn that he does so well, better than anyone.  The strain of a life behind the cowl is etched across his face.  It’s a truly remarkable and subtle performance that most people will not appreciate, as it typically doesn’t belong to a “Superhero” film – this is more.  Tom Hardy (as Bane) is fantastic, he’s always fantastic!  You will never see the same Tom Hardy twice, the man is an exceptionally gifted and creative actor.  I truly think he’s one of the most amazing talents out there.  His physical presence is undeniable, his screen presence irresistible and yet he’s able to humanise Bane in a way unthinkable.  It’ll go unmentioned and most likely overlooked but he’s so expressive, even when two thirds of his face is covered he gives so much.  The only issue was one of audibility as sometimes it’s difficult to make out what’s been said and you end up piecing it together from the parts you managed to make out.  Anne Hathaway was extremely impressive.  Her career to date hasn’t showcased what she’s got in her and she’s most likely underrated because she is incredibly attractive.  The previous Batman films have shown there is no room for people who can’t pull their weight.  Hathaway can not only throw a punch, a kick and is extremely agile in the ways you would expect but she holds more than her own when on screen with the two British heavyweights that are Bale and Hardy, which is pretty much most of her screen time.  Though she’s not my favourite Catwoman she does an damn good job.  There’s degrees of succession in The Dark Knight Rises as Nolan readies himself to hand over the baton so does his characters which brings us nicely to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Detective John Blake).  Levitt has been growing as an actor for years, performances in (500) Days of Summer, Inception and Elektra Luxx have shown that he’s developed all the skills of a remarkable performer.  His scenes alongside Gary Oldman, mentor and pupil demonstrate that he has truly arrived.  It’s easy to understand why Nolan kept him in mind post dreamscape.

There's a special part of the overall package of Nolan’s trilogy, a central chord that runs invisibly through all the films giving them a sense of relation, causality and unity and that’s the tireless, brilliant and suitably heroically unfading work of Hans Zimmer.  What he does best, what he does brilliantly is building.  There are trilogies that are trilogies for no other reason than because there’s three of them.  They operate as stand alone films and bare no relation to one another.  Nolan’s Batman trilogy is closer to that of The Lord of the Rings than it is to (what will be the) Iron Man trilogy.  The three films are greater together, stronger together, better together.  They are three instalments of the one tale and Zimmer’s work pulls them together where production and distribution time has separated them.  It is beyond words how great his scoring is, it pulls together all characters, emotions and themes and drives home Nolan’s grand vision for the Caped Crusader.

Some people are already taking exception to the film, they’ve taken issue with the scale of events, wanting something more akin to The Dark Knight…but there already is a film that’s a lot like The Dark Knight it’s called The Dark Knight.  Since Joker took Gotham by storm we’ve seen four Marvel superheroes leading up to a fifth, The Avengers, and though they are all enjoyable in their own way (I’ve made no secret of my love of the work of Joss Whedon) - they are superheroes without consequence.  Scratch the surface and there’s no lasting effects for the deeds they have done.  What Nolan delivers is a Batman that has had to deal with the ramifications of his life, a real man behind a created persona.  Yes it was different to The Dark Knight because it’s rather pointless to remake a film that was out four years ago.  If you want to watch that film again then go watch it.  There are some issues with The Dark Knight Rises.  The presence of Catwoman, though extremely enjoyable seemed to have little to do (in her own right) and fell pray to the dreaded expositionalogue [sic].  The audibility of Bane, I’ve already covered but because Hardy is so brilliant it’s only a slight issue but some of the Bat versus Bane sequences could have been faster.  These are two men incredibility skilled in close quarters combat yet so much of the fighting is slow hand and easily telegraphed as they go around the houses before hitting their mark.  Think The Bourne Supremacy and the Berlin kitchen sequence and you’ll know what I mean.  There was also several moments that could be well called before they came to pass, uncharacteristic for Nolan’s Batman but when you consider he has a lot of closure to deliver before checking out at Gotham airport it’s understandable - though it did slow the pace of the film in parts.

The Dark Knight Rises brings to an end to the most prosperous period fans of Batman have ever had thanks to a modern day Auteur.  What Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer, Hans Zimmer, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and co have created is a superhero to believe in, a complex and real man in a complex and real city for a complex and real time.  A man that is heroic because he steps up to be counted knowing the consequences and the burden it will place on him, he does it anyway – that’s what makes him the hero.  An extremely powerful and emotionally moving conclusion to an amazing era. 

To quote Jim Gordon “I’ve never said, Thank you” so thank you all.

Movie Bar HEROES! featuring a foursome of fantastic yet forgotten Superheroes including The Champions of Justice and 3 Supermen Against Godfather can be booked by clicking [here].


Gabriel said...

I'm sad to see it end. Haven't seen the movie yet, but i totally agree with you on the bit about "superheroes without consequence". The Dark Knight rose above this and showed a story that goes beyond the screen and the comics. From your review and some friend's opinions, I'm guessing this movie managed the same feat. I wonder when will there be another masterpiece that will join the two medias so well.

John Baxter said...

Yeah it was sad to see the end of an era too. Hope you've had a chance to see it and navigated the many spoiler loaded reviews out there. Genuinely I don't know when there'll be an adaptation with such medium balance. Was great to see though.

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