Action Movies, by Mike Richardson, 27 August 2012

Director: Christopher Nolan

Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway

Country: USA

Runtime: 165 min

Release Date:

Language: English

After the fun of the Tim Burton Batmans, and the worsening abominations of the Joel Schumacher Batmans (culminating in the nadir of Western civilisation that was Batman & Robin) the Caped Crusader needed a new direction. And he got it, Nolan-style!

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

It was with great fanfare when, in 2005, Christopher Nolan’s dark take on the Dark Knight Batsuited-up , off with “Batman Begins” (2005) and continued with “The Dark Knight” (2008) giving us 292 minutes of grim gothic Gotham drama. Batman Begins was big, the Dark Knight was BIGGER and finally the bar was set so high for Batman III; The Dark Knight Rises that not even Christopher (Inception) Nolan could deliver…or could he?

Sadly no; he couldn’t.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the Bat-events of the Dark Knight with Gothamites never having had it so good, in the wake of the criminal crackdown brought about by eulogised District Attorney Harvey (Two face) Dent, and the Batman hunted as a vigilante into (Howard Hughes-esque) retirement. Peace can’t last and (not quite) soon enough Christian Bale’s Bat-Wayne is coached out of his Bat-retirement by Ann Hathaway’s (slinky) cat-burglar. And then REALLY brought out of his cave by big bad Bane; played by Tom Hardy, from behind a fetish gasmask.

So the adventure begins, but so do the problems.

Bane beats Batman in an uninspiring scrap, before sending him to a prison pit from which he must rise (once his broken Bat-back gets better) and save Gotham for, allegedly, the last time.

(Sort of) class terrorist Bane (Gotham’s self-proclaimed reckoning) channels the spirit of Le French Revolution busting open Gotham’s prison (Bastille style), ransacking the stock exchange, and reclaiming the streets, urging the perfectly content citizens of Gotham to, “Take control of your city” although he should add, “Before I blow it up.” This barrage of plot punctuated by fights and chases (and Anne Hathaway in a Skin2 catsuit) leaves the audience slightly head-scratched as to what exactly is going on and quite how is this supposed to work and a little bit “meh”. Rather than the, “Oh that’s clever (even if I don’t quite get it)” of Inception.

The Dark Knight’s plot is (in general) a bit of a mess, which would have been OK if the big set pieces had really delivered, but they don’t. The man-a-batmano fights are so-so (as if Bourne and the Raid had never happened) and the wiz bang of the climatic pitched street battles lacks conviction, for instance why do so many, heavily armed “bad guys” procrastinate before opening fire on the marching (unarmed) police.

The Dark Knight Rises serves up precisely half an excellent film, as the reach, ambition, source and characters are great, but it’s the director that lets them down.

Tom hardy is a fine actor and a perfect fit for Bane; and Bane is a great character, but Hardy’s Bane is severely hamstrung by being hidden behind his mask and having a Ralph Richardson (Noël Coward era luvee) lisp. All the attention to detail seems to have gone on Bane’s bulk and brawn rather than serving the performance.

Secondary baddie, cat(burglar)woman Selina (Anne Hathaway) Kyle is purrrfect (see what I did there?) simultaneously physical, sexy, dangerous, emotionally intriguing and sexy. But again she is poorly served by the film, where she flits from playful crook, to cold hearted thief, to pseudo sapphic guardian, to mercenary, to sidekick, to double crosser, to Batsaviour, to love interest. Maybe cat(burglar)s really are just that contrary.

Batman III is at its best in its quieter more intimate moments (credit to the supporting cast featuring Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon Levitt) — but the Dark Knight Rises was NEVER going to be anything other than a POW, BANG and WALLOP of a film, and it gets itself all overexcited by the BIG Bat-spectacles. To be fair, the marquee moments are filmmaking on an operatic scale, but there is no substitute for story. The Dark Knight Rises may be grand and grown up, it fills the screen and the time to the extreme, but it is not so much a fitting coup de grace for the modern hero of Gotham City, more an epigraph for the man who made the films (like Peter Jackson’s Oscar for The Return of The King) in the end the Dark Knight falls, under the weight of its own expectations.

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

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