Film Review: 3 August
It’s his darkest battle yet. But does it really signal the end for the caped crusader?
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
So that's the end of Batman. Well, it is until someone else kick starts the series all over again. But I imagine that will be some years down the line because the final part of director Christopher Nolan's trilogy wraps things up rather tightly.
Still, Nolan can walk away reflecting on a job well done. When he first cast Christian Bale as Batman/billionaire Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins in 2005 he revitalised a franchise that had been in limbo for eight years, since George Clooney's mildly disastrous Batman and Robin.
Perhaps he is reminding us of this by having The Dark Knight Rises begin eight years after the previous film – in which, as you no doubt recall, Batman took the rap for the murder of Gotham City's apparently heroic but actually bent district attorney.
You don't recall that? Well, never mind. In the interim Batman/Wayne has been holed up like a recluse in his luxury mansion attended only by his faithful old retainer Alfred (Michael Caine).
What stirs him from this lethargy is that suddenly Gotham is threatened as never before by a super-villain, Bane (Tom Hardy), a malevolent presence wearing what looks like Hannibal Lecter's second-best face mask. With an army of desperadoes – and, no, we don't know where he got them from – he storms the city, traps the local police force in a collapsed underground tunnel, opens the gaol and raids the stock exchange.
Chaos. Anti-capitalist anarchy. What's more, Bane intends to wipe Gotham off the face of the earth with a nuclear explosion. If his aims – giving power to the people and then blowing the place up – strike you as contradictory? Well, they struck me the same way.
The screenplay – by Nolan and his brother Jonathan – raises more questions than answers but it doesn't matter because in quite the darkest Batman movie yet the tension rises and rises. And when I say dark, I mean really dark; unlike Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, Bane is definitely not much of a one for laughs.
The only touches of humour come from Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, one of two women – the other is billionairess Miranda (Marion Cotillard) – who throw in their lot with Batman. Although with Catwoman you can't be too sure.
More firmly on Batman's side are those old reliables Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), inventor of the fantastical Batmobiles, and Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), plus a bright young cop, Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Mind you, Batman has a tough time. Bane beats him up in a fist fight, then imprisons him in a deep well somewhere in India, having previously lost him his entire fortune in a stock-exchange fraud. Naturally, Batman escapes and naturally there's one hell of a climax, which includes a dramatic and quite unexpected twist in the tail.
At around three hours, the film is too long (aren't all blockbusters?) but the acting is fine throughout and the action sequences are spectacular.
Bye, bye, Batman. I'm going to miss you.
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