Film Review: Batman – The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Soars

The Dark Knight Rises - Batman film review

So it’s a few hours after seeing the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Epic Trilogy, and my head is still spinning like The Bat’s (Batman’s new flying toy) rotor blades.

Nolan completely (and very successfully) rebuilt the Batman franchise into the titan it is today. I just wish he could have also invented a few words to go along with it, to help us describe just how epic and truly awesome this all is. I’m starting to believe that quite a few notches above the word ‘epic’ lies the word ‘Nolan’. The Dark Knight Rises is Nolan!

And what else is truly Nolan about this movie is the fact it’s NOT in 3D. Now I quite like 3D generally, when it’s used to benefit the story, or movie experience, but that’s not the norm. It’s more often used to generate more revenue, for little or no reward. Clearly from Christopher’s film repertoire, he’s a story teller, and 3D has yet to prove it’s ability to immerse us into a story further, rather than pull us out at any given moment at a sheer focal length spectacle.

What this movie does have, is massive amounts that were specifically filmed in the IMAX format, and given the sheer size of the IMAX format, immersion is almost immediate. In fact, it is stunning. Some scenes are just beautiful. This is story telling at what Nolan believes is the pinnacle of story and technology walking hand in hand, and I agree.

Picking up eight years after The Dark Knight, Gotham is enjoying a time of much deserved peace. But in many forms, darkness is coming. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale is the best Batman there has been) is now a recluse, no longer a part of the society he nearly died to protect. But destiny has other plans, throwing new threats into his and Gotham’s lives. The physically and mentally battered Batman must fly again.

The Dark Knight Rises ReviewIt’s unfortunate that being in such a depleted condition he must step up against the sheer brutal force that is Bane (Tom Hardy) and the ever so nimble but deadly Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Both of these characters are incredible. Hardy is mesmerising big, much bigger than his stunning criminal portrayal in ‘Bronson’, and given he’s wearing a mask for the entire movie, it is riveting what emotion/fear he can conjure with his eyes and physicality.

Hathaway is equally brilliant (and beautiful) as an exquisite burglar, who is so beguiling, that folk would be happily robbed by her, including Bruce Wayne. Her character is so well played by Anne, I really hope there are future stand alone adventures in the pipeline for her, and us.

These characters are added into the mix of what quickly becomes apparent is an epic tale that spreads across the entire trilogy. In many ways, this Batman is ‘The Wire’ (TV series), but with gadget, costumes and wings. But it is one tale. In that context, I highly recommend watching the previous two chapters before seeing the epilogue.

But for all that is enormous about The Dark Knight Rises (which is nearly everything), it’s the smaller personal, intimate moments of humanity with all it’s quirks and frailties, that I found to be more memorable. The supporting cast is on par with the scale of everything. The old guard of Michael Caine (Alfred), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) reprising much loved roles that they all own. In particular, there are scenes with Caine that are amongst the best he has ever done, an emotional integrity that only comes once in a while.

Added to this (along with Hathaway of course) are the younger brilliance of Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake), Levitt whom in my opinion is one of the greatest actors around today. Of course there are many more great actors participating, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises. But they all raise the script to a very high level.

Though containing familiar zeitgeist themes of rampant capitalism, terrorism and exploitation, they are deftly mixed with soul searching quests which have existed for thousands of years. The lines are somewhat blurred in a lot of the characters traits, making them all the more human and relatable, we can all be good or bad, it’s the experiences we have had, and our subsequent choices that define us. As such we have empathy with all the various characters journeys.

The Dark Knight Rises Review

One of the unfortunate side effects of contemporary existence is the super saturation of information regarding any movie release, with reviewers/bloggers, even distributors themselves, giving out keys moments of plots and surprises of forthcoming releases. I HATE THIS! Like Nolan, I LOVE movies and the art of story telling. And as such I’m not going to tell you plots and key scenes, being a 2hr 44min movie, there are far too many anyways, and there are wonderful moments in this movie, and you will have your own.

Of course I urge you to see it in the format it was designed to be seen in, but there aren’t IMAX’s everywhere in the world, but if you can get to one to see it, do.

Nolan has said that this is the end of his time with the franchise, but he goes out in a blaze of glory. From reports of the Superman reboot (which he is involved in), his take on Batman is very evident in the tone of The Man of Steel. This is great news, and if you pay attention during the movie, there are hints of where The Dark Knight Rises could potentially go next, with his blessing.

Nine out of 10This movie is utterly fantastic in it’s scope, ambition and vision. It never felt flabby at all despite it’s length. Not once did I look at my watch to see how long was left. To be honest, I still think The Dark Knight is slightly better basically thanks to Heath Ledger’s Joker, which I still think is the greatest portrayal of a villain ever. But this has to be one of the finest epilogues to any series to date, maintaining an excellence in story telling that will resonate for many decades to come.

The Dark Knight Rises is released on 20th July by Warner Bros Pictures.