Review :: The Dark Knight Rises

July 23rd 2012

The Dark Knight Rises picks up 8 years after The Dark Knight, with Bruce Wayne having morphed from a bad-ass crime fighting ninja into a sad, busted old weirdo, isolated in his mansion and hobbling on a cane. He is still moping about the climax of the last film, where Batman assumed the guilt for Harvey Dent’s crime spree so that he could be upheld as a hero and inspire the Dent Act which has cleaned up the streets. The movie probably could have spent one or two of its 170 odd minutes explaining how it did this but no matter, because Anne Hathaway’s cat burglar is after Bruce Wayne’s fingerprints, and a mysterious mercenary called Bane has improbably teamed up with Ben Mendlesohn for reasons unknown. All of which inspires Bruce Wayne to start practicing his silly Bat Growl again and step back into the shadows, much to poor old Alfred’s dismay. I am not joking about Ben Mendlesohn by the way. He is totally in this.

Christopher Nolan‘s third Batman film comes not just after the stunning commercial and critical success of The Dark Knight, but the far riskier and ambitious Inception. This obviously inspired Warner Brothers to grant him whatever resources he wanted, because this movie is massive. It’s not immediately obvious, but as the giant plot slowly comes into focus you start to get a feeling for the scale of Nolan’s ambition as he plunges Gotham City into utter chaos and anarchy over several months, and gives Bruce Wayne a long and complex arc that unlike just about any other comic book film, actually has a conclusion. And he pulls all of this off without the tricks that most directors rely on. A film of this scale now would use 3 or 4 units to shoot everything, Nolan uses one. Unlike every blockbuster this year, he has shot on film, not digital, using the massive, pain in the arse IMAX cameras for over an hour of the film. I’ve seen it in both formats now, and if its at all possible, you should try and get to Darling Harbour.

It’s also a profoundly flawed film by the way. It has some big themes on its mind, particularly topical in the wake of ‘occupy’, but I don’t really know what it has to say about them. Politically it’s a bit of a nightmare in fact, much like The Dark Knight was. If you prod at the plot too much you can see holes of almost Prometheus proportions. I understand what Bane is trying to do for instance, but when you think about his actual plan, how he intends to do it, it’s seriously ridiculous and obviously motivated not by the actions of a madman, but by Nolan and his brother Jonathon sitting at a computer and figuring out how they can get to the ending that they had in mind for Bruce Wayne when they were writing the thing. But I only noticed some of this while the film was thundering along in front of me with Hans Zimmer’s demented screeching score fraying my nerves, and didn’t care about it a bit because the film is so ridiculously entertaining. Its not as good as the last film, but not many are. Tom Hardy’s Bane is intriguing, but not nearly as magnetic as Heath Ledger‘s Joker. His mask is an interesting idea, but doesn’t really work on camera, more so given the weird stuffy British accent Hardy employs. Hathaway is fantastic as Catwoman (though she is never actually called that), but is left always at the edge of the plot, looking for a way in. Really though, I’m picking flaws in a movie that’s operating on a different level compared to most of what we get served up. The Dark Knight Rises is pretty damn good, don’t miss it.


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