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Film Review: The Dark Knight Rises


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The final part in Christopher Nolan’s Batman triptych hits our screens carrying a colossal weight of expectation. But The Dark Knight Rises, the monolithic, epic third part, has more than enough strength to carry this burden through to deliver something truly spectacular.

The Dark Knight RisesIt’s eight years on and following Batman’s taking the fall for the death of Harvey Dent, tough new laws have cleaned up Gotham’s streets and the city is at peace. Unable to come to terms with his life without the cape billionaire Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, rotting away in his vast mansion. Two new figures, Anne Hathaway’s cat-thief Selina Kyle and juggernaut mercenary Bane, played by Tom Hardy, enter the fray. Gotham will need a hero once more, but can Wayne bring the Bat back to life?

The villains take on a different form than the unhinged, destructive menace of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, but are equally challenging for the film’s hero. Hathaway’s seductively self-assured and calculated Catwoman tests his intelligence and cunning but the real baddy of the piece is Hardy’s Bane.

Bane is an enemy who combines pure, unadulterated power with zen-like control. Unlike the Joker there is no crazed need for destruction. Whilst Hardy’s performance falls slightly short of Ledger’s award-winning turn his character proves to be the Caped Crusader’s ultimate foe. Fears about Bane’s voice being indecipherable do in some way come true, with parts of his speech getting lost in the robotic fuzz – at times his Darth-Vader-as-posh-English-gent voice does detract from his overall menace, but this is minor point.

Christian Bale’s dual performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman is more nuanced than in the previous two instalments with him bringing the added depths of his further tortured psyche to the performance.

Plaudits need to go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt for his performance as moralistic cop John Blake, who emerges as one of the real heroes of the piece aside from the masks and full-blown action.

Aside from an array of solid performances Nolan again utilises stunning cinematography and narrative brilliance to provide a full-package that few summer blockbusters manage to muster.

Visually Nolan’s starkly realistic view of a truly apocalyptic scenario draws as much excitement from the claustrophobia of a city under-siege as it does from out and out action.

If you are going to the flicks expecting a full-throttle action-romp you will be disappointed, as The Dark Knight Rises at its heart is a character led affair with as much made of the intertwining relationships as the fight for victory. This is particularly apparent with Michael Caine’s return as Alfred, who embodies the emotional core of the unravelling of Wayne’s world and provides a focal point for the elements that make this more than just a superhero movie but one about emotions.

Of course at a running time of nearly three hours there are sub-plots that seem a little superfluous to the cause, such as the inner-wranglings of the Wayne Enterprises board members – but this does little to detract from a fully engrossing plot.

Elsewhere The Dark Knight Rises makes brilliant moves in tying up the trilogy, answering unanswered questions from the past instalments and pulling elements from the entire narrative ark of all three movies. Fans of the entire trilogy are rewarded with a number of pay-offs and a satisfactory conclusion – how many third parts can claim to deliver that?

Despite minor niggles here is a worthy conclusion to what has been a complete five-star trilogy. With this movie Christopher Nolan has again proven that mass-market blockbusters can be made with intelligence and heart and still cut-it.

The Dark Knight Rises is simply a must-see movie for all.

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