Jul 19 2012 By Gerry Fitzsimmons
Batman Dark Knight Rises Image 1
The Dark Knight Rises (12A)
Dir: Christopher Nolan
Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy.
In the avalanche of hype that preceded the release of the third act of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy it wasn’t difficult to gauge what to expect amid the inevitable buzz.
Images of a broken Batman in a decaying Gotham City were evident in the marketing that flooded the media and the anticipation of what was billed as one of the biggest rubber clad climaxes in cinema since Leslie Nielsen’s passion wrestle with Priscilla Pressley in Naked Gun made it almost impossible to go into this movie without very high expectations. However, despite our preconceptions, the image of Tom Conti hand-feeding a broken and beaten Bruce Wayne poppadoms at the start of the third act was something of an epiphany.
Joking aside, the desire to love this film has ultimately made it a difficult movie to review.
When we left Bruce Wayne in The Dark Night, he was scuttling off into the shadows to hide from the fall out of taking the blame for the death of Harvey Dent. We return to Gotham eight years later with Wayne as a retired, cane-wielding hermit who, in the months to come, will have to rise (twice) to prevent a Gotham holocaust at the hands of Bane (Tom Hardy) - a cross between a camp eighties wrestler and Darth Vadar if the imagination allows.
Bane has assembled a herd of militiamen that form the muscle of a (literally) underground terrorist army. He plans to isolate Gotham City from the world and overthrow the authorities, handing power back to the people. However, bringing Gotham to its knees (through extreme social unrest) and then wiping it off the face of earth (with a massive ticking nuclear bomb) is Bane’s real end game.
The motivations for his actions are blurred, partly because of his (at times) inaudible dialogue, and partly because Nolan deliberately attempts to misdirect his audience in exchange for greater dramatic impact in the reveal.
Furthermore, the plot is not unfamiliar and as a consequence of so many ‘ticking bomb’ and Rocky IV ‘hero cast to the wilderness’ plotlines, we have grown as an audience to expect the expected to the detriment of the intended tension in the last of almost three hours of action and slightly tired narratives.
Make no mistake, there are some truly astonishing set piece sequences most notably the vertigo inducing opening stunt when a plane hijacks another in midflight. The takeover of Gotham is equally wrought with energy and tension as the city falls apart under the command of Bane.
Highlights include some brilliant performances from Michael Caine as the conflicted and loving Alfred, Wayne’s confidant and an entertaining and well judged re-introduction of Catwoman (Hathaway) albeit delegated with arbitrary one liners of cheese - but it is a blockbuster right?
Bale’s performance perfectly captures the torment of a falling superhero despite the fact that the script fails him.
Wayne become’s an inconsistent character and his motivations and decisions surrounding the protection of the corporation are unclear and contradictory to his plight.
Much has been said about the intensity and crescendo of the third act being a guarantee of critical greatness. However this is only the case in cinematic terms as the narrative structure of the film begins to fragment like the walls of our hero’s hometown. The score is brutally percussive and whilst the accelerating pace of the third act screams to its conclusion, there is a lack of contrast in the more emotive scenes.
There seems to be a lack of finesse to this final fling in Gotham, and although the resolution will please many fans, The Dark Night Rises could have benefitted from a more daring denouement.
Sometimes a cut to black says it all.
Superheroes - Staggering cinematography proving why IMAX is the only show in town and much a far better experience than 3D. Excellent set pieces and the presence of a real actor albeit in small doses in the form of Michael Caine. Oh, and the Tom Conti poppadom moment. Pricelessly surreal!
Super villains – An hour of red carpet nausea before the screening filled with spoilers really drained the life out of the sense of occasion and anticipation. Where Nolan once trusted his audience to engage with the challenging narrative ideas in Inception, he risks slightly insulting some sections of the audience with some rather ‘on the nose’ twists in The Dark Night Rises.