The Dark Knight Rises

7 Jan

the darkknight rises


Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan (screenplay)

Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 165 minutes


This is the final part of the rebooted Chris Nolan trilogy (after Batman Begins in 2005 and The Dark Knight in 2008). It has an exciting start with a cool aerial stunt that includes an intro to the villain Bane (Tom Hardy in that facemask). The set-up is also good with Gotham in an uneasy period of “peacetime” as described by Matthew Modine’s ineffectual Deputy Commissioner Foley. Since Batman left Gotham under a cloud 4 years earlier crime has seemingly fallen away, but early on we are told that “a storm is coming”.

Like the recent Bond film we start this with a tired and broken hero. Christian Bale’s Batman is retired from duty and hardly missed by the general public. His body is bruised and battered and he appears well off his game. And just like Daniel Craig in “Skyfall” this is Bale’s best acting for a while. He dominates every scene that he’s in and draws enormous sympathy even whilst wearing his battle fatigues and trying to hold on to that cool and impassive stare.

The first 60 minutes of this film are terrific. The film rattles along and introduces some interesting new characters. Bale is excellent and Hardy is solid enough as the latest baddie. Caine, Oldman and Gordon-Levitt are also on fine form in the supporting roles so I was genuinely enjoying the show and looking forward to the last two thirds. I was, however, disappointed and, in hindsight, a little annoyed by the final 100 minutes. There are quite a few things wrong with this one.

Although I watched this spectacle on my small home screen I can’t believe that it was any easier to understand Tom Hardy as Bane in the cinema. His facemask distorts 80% of what he says. And although dark colouring can be cinematic on a big screen, here the migration to TV renders the film too dismal and dank to actually see what’s going on at times. Those sound and lighting issues are less frustrating when the main female characters are on screen (Hathaway out of her depth and far too clean-cut to play Catwoman and Cotillard wasted in a silly role), but the Batman and Bane confrontations are almost ruined by them.

As well as poor construction and casting in the female roles I take umbrage with Christopher Nolan for other errors. Why is this film 165 minutes long? That’s ludicrous and simply underlines his bombastic tendencies (as seen in the hugely over-rated “Inception”). Yes he is missing the electric presence of Heath Ledger from #2, but that’s no excuse for such lengthy and clunky tie-ups between the three films and the back story (involving an underground prison in a faraway land). My feeling is that huge box office success has made Nolan untouchable and that’s a pity. This film is brilliant for 60 minutes, but goes off the rails terribly. It becomes long, loud, silly and arrogant and that’s a sad way for Bale and Batman to bow out.

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