Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Review

Let's get a few things out of the way first.  Rises is not perfect.  There are flaws.  Unlike Prometheus (ever wish you could go back and re-write your review?) they are forgiven here.  There's a temptation to try and compare this with Avengers, or even the more recent Amazing Spider-Man, but this is a different kind of film, asking big questions of its characters and a far worthier take on the genre.

The final instalment of Nolan's trilogy pushes the envelope in trying to get under the skin of its superhero.  For that to succeed and be taken in anyway seriously, the film needs a big performance from Christian Bale, fortunately he is truly outstanding.  If The Dark Knight was Heath Ledger's movie, then Rises belongs to Bale.   He's not alone though, the cast (and it's a big cast) are all excellent.

Nolan's take on Batman in Rises is a truly modern one.  This is a post 911/post economic meltdown Batman.  Almost Dickensian in its telling and brilliantly riffing on the father son conversations we see in Batman Begins it takes our hero to his limits and beyond.

Tom Hardy's Bane is not going to sit well with everyone.  The mask is brilliant to look at but some of the dialogue gets lost as a result of its muffling effect.  Annoying?  Yes.  Deal breaker?  No.  Is he as defining a character as the Joker?  Of course not.  Bane was always a different type of villain in the comics and here Nolan delivers a villain full of menace and raw physical strength.  All that matters is that Bane works here.

Most surprising is Catwoman.  Anne Hathaway is simply perfect in the part.  Nolan sensibly keeps it real (and traditional) for the character.  She's a thief, she's sexy, her morals are questionable, there's a hint she's sexually ambiguous and did I mention she's sexy.

There are others, most notably the stalwarts of the series (Caine, Freeman and Oldman), who help to bring Rises to life in Nolan's hyper-reality tale.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in particular, is great as an everyman cop, a likeable foil for both Batman and Commissioner Gordon.

The story pounds along, you're swept up in the thrill of the ride and visually it's simply stunning.  Nolan's choice of filming on location as much as possible pays off big time, everything, including the gadgets, look real.  The film, like its two predecessors is grounded in reality and here, more than ever, Gotham lives and breathes as a result.  The scale, at times, is truly breathtaking.

The problem for Nolan is that in making a movie so firmly fixed on being a true take on a man in a bat suit fighting crime is that when he asks us to suspend our disbelief we struggle.  Here the editing of the movie feels off at times and it jars.  There are a couple of 'What the actual fuck?' moments where things don't feel like they quite make sense, mainly because large chunks of time don't feel like they're passing when suddenly it becomes clear they have.

This is though, a fitting end to Nolan's trilogy.  As good as The Dark Knight?  I need to go again to be honest but no, not after the first watch.  But as a way to bring this to a close the last hour is as good as anything Nolan has produced and the nods, to the row upon row of fan boys in that last hour are worth the entry price alone.

Perfect?  No.  Met my expectations?  Hell yes.

Go.  Every diamond has its flaws.
★★★★☆