THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
CAST: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine
RUNNING TIME: 165 minutes
RATING: 3 stars
A dark cloud seems to hover over this franchise like a Bat-signal in the Gotham City sky. Or at least, more so when Chris Nolan is in the director’s chair.
There wasn’t much international controversy in Batman Begins (2005), the first in the trilogy. But of course, in 2008, a dark cloud surfaced when The Dark Knight was released.
Heath Ledger was an incomparable Joker, but the actor died by the time the box office numbers were tallied.
The recent shootings at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in a Colorado cinema have cast a dark shadow on the final instalment in Nolan’s trilogy.
This go-around, it’s been eight years since the events at which The Dark Knight left off.
A disgraced Bruce Wayne (Bale) has hung up his Batsuit and become a hermit in his family’s mansion.
He needs a cane to help him walk, and is also in need of another Caine: Michael Caine, reprising his role as Alfred, Wayne’s butler and often-time confidant.
The city is peaceful now and socialites poke fun at Wayne, but although he is a recluse, orphaned boys and pretty women like the wealthy philanthropist Miranda Tate (Cotillard) still believe in him.
Then one day Selina Kyle (Hathaway), a sexy cat burglar who not only has a way with locks but with words, too, steals something valuable from Wayne.
Basically, Kyle is Catwoman, but she’s not being called that.
Anyway, her crime triggers events that lead to Bruce beefing up and fitting into the Batsuit – constructed from 110 separate pieces, in case you were wondering – once more.
Fast forward to the important bits because this film, like the last, is ridiculously long.
Enter a terrorist leader named Bane (Hardy), who was once a part of the League of Shadows from which Wayne absconded.
With ginormous machine guns for arms and a voice-box that allows him to speak in a rather creepy tone, Bane is like a bald Khal Drogo with a mask and a dry sense of humour. With the support of a rogue businessman, Bane is intent on destroying Batman’s city by pitting the disenfranchised against the filthy rich.
Bane’s scenes are examples of the kind of action and fight sequences that show Nolan has stepped out of his extreme close-up shots and wants you to see who gets their butt beaten.
A lot of the time, that butt belongs to Batman.
This is awesome because it’s somewhat realistic. Batman has been out of the fighting game for almost a decade now and the lines on his face and his strength level show it.
It would have been worthy of a roll of the eyes had Batman suddenly been able to kick ass and take names as though nothing had changed. His weaknesses drum up even more sympathy from the audience for our hero. Although, it must be said, Bane’s inclusion is thrilling for action-lovers and satisfactory for anyone who loves a Robin Hood-esque villain.
As far as conclusions to film franchises go, The Dark Knight Rises is a good attempt.
Petrolheads are sure to be excited about Batman’s motorbike – a full-bodied beast with wheels given to blits vinnig 360° spins in mid-air or on the dirt road.
The special effects are, in a word, “awesome”. And kudos to Nolan and his team for bucking the 3D trend because the cinematography is rich and on point. Especially when it comes to beautiful aerial shots and the contrast between the darkness of a dungeon-like jail and the light exposure provided in the characters’ memories.
With an ensemble cast with whom we are quite familiar and new actors who wow with their performances, the film is a must-see for any DC Comics fan.
This is a way more intelligent film than its closest comparison, The Avengers, but the branching plot lines can be distracting. Plus, they make the movie too long.
Save for one silly moment when Cotillard pulls an expression worthy of an eKasi Stories scene, The Dark Knight Rises is funny where it’s meant to be and, in true Batman fashion, brings the question of morals to the fore.
If you liked… The Dark Knight and Batman Begins… you will love this.