Director: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Juno Temple.
Running time: 164 min.
Let me be straight-forward from the start: The Dark Knight Rises is the biggest film-event of my life so far. Sure, I've only had 16 years for films to compete for that title, but this film takes the cake by a long shot. That is not to say that The Dark Knight Rises is my favourite film ever. I honestly don't think it will have the mass effect that The Dark Knight had, with it making it's way to the top of IMDb's top 250 or anything like that. Simply put, The Dark Knight Rises isn't as good as The Dark Knight. But there's no denying that this is a grand-scale finish to what is probably the best trilogy of films that I have ever seen. The only problem that I have is that now the trilogy is all over. I guess that I can now properly understand how all of those Harry Potter fans felt when their series came to a close this time last year. Even though Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise and I didn't get off to the most conventional start, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic over the way The Dark Knight changed my perception of films when I was just about to leave primary school. Now I'm nearly on the precipice of leaving high school, The Dark Knight Rises has come along and reminded me of why I love Nolan's take on Batman, why I love Nolan's films in general, and why I love going to the cinemas. However, Nolan's closing the door on his Batman, even though he's leaving the door somewhat open for someone else to pick it up. Which I hope isn't the case, because I don't think anyone can do the superhero genre better than Nolan. Hell, this guy invented his own genre.
Nolan's Batman trilogy has been rife with themes that you wouldn't expect to come along in a movie about a guy dressing up as a bat, along with gritty realism and actual relevance between the fictional Gotham and the world we live in today. The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. The film opens eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with Harvey Dent's 'murder' and the supposed 'murderer' Batman being present in the otherwise peaceful Gotham. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is in hiding after everything that had happened in The Dark Knight, living as a recluse with only his trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) to keep him company. However, while Gotham is living in peace and without Batman, a terrorist called Bane (Tom Hardy) comes to town and plans to destroy Gotham. This brings Bruce Wayne out of hiding and back into the Bat costume, with the hope of saving the city that he holds dear.
One thing that struck me about The Dark Knight Rises was how relevant it was. In many instances, the events of this film may feel a little too far from happening, but the havoc that Bane unleashes on Gotham is something that isn't too far from reality. Would we need a man who dresses up to deliver justice? It sounds like an insane idea, but Nolan makes it seem completely normal. That comes through most prominently in this film, considering Batman is barely present. Instead of dwelling on Batman delivering justice, we get to see the man behind the mask wondering why he feels the need to put that mask on. The Dark Knight Rises is probably the most emotionally charged film of the series, and probably one of the most emotionally charged blockbuster spectacles ever. We see Bruce Wayne fall time and time again, and while we shouldn't understand why he continues to try and rise above his failures, thanks to Bale's dedicated performance and the way Nolan crafts the character, we do. Needless to say, I was crying quite heavily towards the end - who knew that one rich guy with a whole lot of gadgets could be so inspiring?
Even though we don't see a lot of Bruce Wayne or Batman like we have in the other films, there are some great performances filling the film around him. Tom Hardy is terrifying as Bane, who loses points for not craving the same anarchy or chaos as the Joker, but is definitely more calculated with his actions. Hardy is an imposing figure, with pretty much the figure of a human hulk. He's also an imposing presence on screen, as well, who for once leads us to fear for Batman's physical safety. Not all superheroes can be invincible, and Bane definitely proves that. Along with Bane, we have new arrivals Miranda Tate and John Blake played by Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt respectively, who turn in marvellous performances. Returning actors Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman all add points to their 'legend' cards (I just imagine they have those) with their heartfelt performances closing out the trilogy brilliantly. Both Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy both make small appearances, thus making the ties between The Dark Knight Rises and Batman Begins a lot stronger than the ties between the second and third films. But it is Anne Hathaway who steals the show with her cool, multi-faceted take on Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She fits into Gotham seamlessly, kicking ass like no woman ever has on film, and commands the screen even if we're never quite sure of her agenda. Anyone who doubted her capability for a role like this needs to get their ass kicked by Hathaway, and then they'll be sorry.
The Dark Knight Rises may be a shade disappointing (and there are a few minor flaws) considering the lead up, but it is still a beyond fantastic film. Christopher Nolan's ability to make these wonderful spectacles that fill up a cinema is something beyond my comprehension. I do hope that this gives him the Academy love he deserves, not only for this film itself, but for the entire trilogy. If he doesn't, I guess it really doesn't matter. This man, who avoids CGI where he can, doesn't believe in 3D and shoots on film as opposed to digital, has not only continued on the legend of cinema, but has also expanded on the old-fashioned ideals and given them a modern twist. And that's the beauty of his work - which is ever present in his latest masterpiece.
What I got: