THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


2012

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CINEMA REVIEW

Contains Spoilers!

Will we be adding this to our collection? YES

After four years, since The Dark Knight ended, leaving us wanting more and seven years since Christopher Nolan reinvented the comic book adaptation with Batman Begins, The final chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogy has arrived.

With this much hype, would it possible live up to potentially bloated expectations? The first reviews hit last monday, with 4 to 5 stars being the consensus. Well, it did! The Dark Knight returns one last time, after eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight and Batman had retreated into the rebuilt Wayne Manor as Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), maintaining the lie that Harvey Dent was Gotham’s The White Knight, and not the maniacal Two-Face, had managed to clean up Gotham City.

Batman was no longer needed but in the meantime, Bane has arrived in the city with grand plans for its destruction. I won’t go much further into the plot that this, though I will probably write a more spoiler heavy review for the Blu-ray later in the year. But for now, I will try to maintain the film’s integrity.

When we first meet Bruce Wayne after almost a decade of seclusion, he is a broken man, both physically and mentally following the murder of his childhood sweetheart, Rachel Dawes in the previous film and the toll of nightly combat. So the first port of call is to bring Batman back to the streets of Gotham. The sense of excitement is palpable and very much a part of what makes Nolan’s films tick.

He draws his audience into the narrative as if we are part of the events and the universe as it unfolds, leaving us not just wanting Batman to return for the sake of the action but for Gotham’s sake as well.  Bane, played so excellently by Tom Hardy, was a little difficult to understand from behind his mask, but still conveyed an enormous amount of presence and power, as he lays siege to the city but not as Terrorist per say, but as a freedom fighter or revolutionary, with many visual references to the French Revolution to keep us going.

Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, though not named as anyone other than Selina Kyle, was a credit to her character as well as the actress. Dark, sultry, seductive and agile, her feline credibly was intact, whilst still being a very human character. Her duplicity was bread from desperation rather than evil and her motives convincingly drive her in both good and more dubious endeavours.

*** MAJOR SPOILER***

The less said about Talia Al Ghul the better, but the for those aware of her role, it was well-played, though her final scene was the hammiest in the film, possibly the entire trilogy.

***SPOILER END***

Then there’s the supporting cast, such as Mathew Modene, who does a great job as Dept. Commissioner Foley and Cillian Murphy’s back again, as the subtly unrecognisable Scarecrow, who besides some frayed shoulder’s on his jacket, could have been anyone,and that’s the beauty of Nolan’s Batman universe. It’s fluid and you can’t count on anything on anyone for too long.

But this franchise would be nothing without Hans Zimmer percussive score, pounding as much as it was gentle, it works well among with Nolan’s direction to craft the near perfect conclusion to the Trilogy. Both riff on earlier films and supe it up accordingly whilst maintaining the film’s integrity.

In the end, my expectations were met and exceeded. Nolan has crowned his trilogy with a film which is of the same calabar as the two which preceded it, filling in many of the blanks, choosing the right characters to take on and doing so a variety of ways, touching this time on the flamboyant Bain, though scrapping the “Venom” plot from the comics, creating an intriguing Catwoman and building another major character in the form of R. John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Lovett).

The ending of the film is just perfect, not only for this but for the entire Trilogy. With nods to Inception though I believe that it is just a nod and not as similar as some would protest, but this is epic in the way that The Dark Knight never tried to be and Batman Begins didn’t need to be. The threat is apocalyptic, in keeping with the genre, but believable in keeping with Nolan.

The same can be said for the action, though I must admit, the sentimentalist in me wanted to see the Batmoble/Tumber back, though it was there in triplicate, as Bane steels three prototype Tumbers from Wayne Enterprises, for his private army, but the Bat (Batwing) was stunning, and the Batpod made a reappearance. The Final showdown will leave you breathless, the perfect blend of direction, Zimmer’s score and some of the most intense and meaningful action you’ll see on the big screen.

The only real faults with The Dark Knight Rises stem from its scale and change in direction. It’s more about Batman’s evolution from crime fighter to savour. Less intense on a personal level, but much grander in its ideals and horror as Gotham is destroyed on scale never seen in a film of this type. But it’s not as far-fetched as one may think, as it grounds itself with historical references, such as the French Revolution, which was hardly far-fetched, though it was hard-hitting and is well translated here.

Bruce Wayne completes his journey from the boy who witnessed his parents murder, to a young man who could not grow beyond it, to a man who lost himself in a journey to understand the criminal mind. Finally returning as Batman, who defied his mentor to protect his beloved city, to a master detective. But here, he returns to his roots.

The billionaire who never cared about his wealth as much as he cared for the people of Gotham, he ends up exactly where he needed to be. Decide for yourself, whether it’s a happy ending, sad or satisfying, but either way, it was not only the best way to advance the saga, but the best way to end the series as a whole. Thanks to Nolan and his crew, we now have the most definitively brilliant Batman series EVER committed to celluloid, (or digital), and no matter what is to follow, whether it is to be the Justice League mash-up or another reboot, I suspect that it will be a long, long time before anyone can beat these.

N.B. Our thoughts are with the families of though who lost their lives in Colorado last Friday (20/07/12)

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