Watched Jul 23, 2012
Mark Kinsella’s review:
It doesn't reach the anarchic heights or the thought-provoking themes of The Dark Knight and at times it seems to be struggling with too much plot, but The Dark Knight Rises is an exciting and emotionally fueled denouement to one of the greatest film trilogies of all time.
What I liked most about the final installment is what is missing in many Chris Nolan's films, and that is the heart. The films most emotionally charged scenes aren't by the bombastic set-pieces (and there's a lot!) but in the films quietest moments between characters.
Michael Caine excels as Alfred, despite his character downsized for the action heavy middle and final parts of the film. His heart-rending speech about his trips to Florence in hope in seeing Bruce across the table in a cafe is not just a stand-out moment of the film but the entire trilogy. Christian Bale is more comfortable than ever as Batman and thankfully the script gives him a wee bit of humour to play around with to stop it becoming too dark.
While in The Dark Knight, Batman was under threat by an inauspicious idea, here he's under threat by an entity of complete destruction - Bane. The Joker and Batman were opposites, Bane and Batman are the same: two destructive forces that were destined to clash in which will either will bring down Gotham or bring down the Batman. Nolan's universe has changed for the final film, Batman's fate will be sealed if Gotham is saved: Batman only chance is to give everything he is and everything he has.
The Joker wanted Gotham to destroy itself from itself but Bane wants the crueler fate: to give them hope, to give the citizens an opportunity in vain to resolve themselves even though they will all die anyway. Again, bold ideas from Nolan (and his brother Jonathan) but this time it seems a little drowned out by a number of things - the intense action, Hans Zimmer's impressive yet brain-thumping score and Nolan's incessant need to squeeze in too much plot, it zooms from characters to locations so fast it's hard to get a grip on what's going on. In fact the films second half is a minor distraction from the sombre and engrossing beginning.
Mind you, they're minor flaws and while Bane lacks the repulsiveness and eerie presence of The Joker, Tom Hardy is brilliant as the over-sized villain. You may not understand all of what he's saying (which is a shame because of Christopher Nolan's gift for dialogue) but those eyes of his say it all: a man full of rage and purpose.
There's a lot of fun to be had too, namely in the shape of Anne Hathaway's Catwoman. Hathaway is on blistering form, and a million miles from Michelle Pfeiffer's interpretation. She's funny and lethal, sometimes at the same time: when Batman tell's her not to kill anybody, she retorts with a wonderful, "where's the fun in that?" Yet, you do earn for an insight to who Selina Kyle is and why she does what she does but I don't think Warner Bros. would take to the idea of increasing the running time well.
All returning characters are fine, Gary Oldman is again terrific as Commissioner Gordon, tarnished with the secret of Harvey Dent's actions and Joesph Gordon Levitt rises in a crowded room. Other cast members don't do as well, Matthew Modine is forgettable, Morgan Freeman isn't given much to do and while Marion Cotillard is fine as Miranda Tate her character is nothing more than a plot function - her character twist is obvious no more than an hour in to the film.
The film wraps up in style, not setting up for a sequel but paving the way for another bold and brilliant vision of Gotham's Dark Knight. Yet, you'll leave the cinema thinking who has the ingenuity that can match Christopher Nolan's masterpieces? He's raised the bar so far that it may never be reached again.