I should probably start this review with a confession. I am a huge fan of all things ‘superhero’, in particular, Batman. From 1989 when I was 7 years old and introduced to Bruce Wayne, then played by the fantastic Michael Keaton, I have been hooked. I have every film, all manner of memorabilia and could be called by some a geek, I will however, attempt to be as unbiased as possible with regard to The Dark Knight Rises.
When I first saw Batman Begins in 2005, the first in the trilogy of the regenerated and refreshed Batman franchise, I was mesmerised completely by the sheer brilliance of it. Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne superbly, Michael Caine as Alfred is casting gold and the way the films are constructed and delivered is impeccable. Each aspect of the film worked exactly as it should have, it could not be beaten, or so I thought?
In 2008 the franchise delivered the next segment in the trilogy, entitled The Dark Knight. It included all previous brilliance with one added feature, Heath Ledger. I would like to state on record now, that I personally believe Heath Ledgers performance in The Dark Knight as the Joker to be one of, if not the best, performance of all time. The man more than became the role, he lost his own personality to it. As a cinematic experience goes, it would be almost impossible to better, or so I thought?
It is now 2012 and the third and supposedly final segment of the trilogy has been released, The Dark Knight Rises.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the same director as the previous two films and written by Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises concludes the story of Bruce Wayne and how he overcomes his personal demons and becomes the saviour of Gotham City.
As with the previous two films this film introduces to us a new evil, Bane (Tom Hardy).
Bane is an excommunicated member of The League of Shadows, a terrorist cell previously lead by Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) Bruce Wayne’s mentor and eventual foe in the first instalment of the trilogy, Batman Begins. Bane demands nothing less than total destruction to the hierarchy of Gotham’s society and uses a mixture of phenomenal intelligence as well as the purest of brute strength to achieve his goals. In this final instalment of the saga we are witness to Bruce Wayne’s own personal journey into and out of the darkness of his own psyche, forcing himself to overcome his fears and in some instances give in to them.
Visually it is a treat, filmed partly using IMAX cameras to give the best possible picture, Nolan utilises all his directorial knowledge and experience to deliver a film which is practically perfect. There is not any particular scene I can reference that stands out as being specifically good as each and every scene works well and is shot with perfection.
The plot works as a progressive piece from the previous two films and neatly ties in every last detail of the overall story, a story arc which mainly revolves around Bruce Wayne and what role his alter ego Batman plays in his life.
This film introduces us to a number of new characters. Bane, played by Tom Hardy is the main master villain in this instalment and Hardy plays the part exceptionally well, albeit not quite at the same level as Ledger played The Joker in the previous film. Hardy uses a fantastic physique as well as exceptional body language acting to portray the character at his rawest and most evil. The way Bane holds himself and the presence that he has on screen is a delight to watch. As I understand it, during initial viewings in the US it was said that the voice of Bane was difficult to understand, this has been rectified for this UK DVD and Blu-Ray release.
The character of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is also rejuvenated in this instalment and Hathaway plays the role with a mixture of Sexual decadence and mysterious depth perfectly.
A mention should also be made about Joseph Gordon Levitt who plays John Blake, a beat cop with an incredibly sharp instinct who senses trouble is coming. Levitt has evolved as an actor from his early days in Third Rock from the Sun and in this role he plays the part excellently. I expect this is not the last we will see of Levitt being involved in a super hero related role…
I could continue to write about this film for an age, going into great depth and detail regarding various aspects of the filming and characters, however I won’t as this would delay you from running to your nearest DVD or Blu-Ray retailer to purchase it. In fact, I’m amazed you’ve read this far? For a fan of cinema there is no question that this must take up permanent residence on your film shelf.
I originally said as a cinematic experience, The Dark Knight would be almost impossible to beat. I was right, it was not beaten. However it was very nearly equalled. The Dark Knight Rises is a truly exceptional film and one that is well worthy of a place in anyone’s Top Ten of Films.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
Runtime: 165 min
Country: USA, UK