Review: The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises: Image. Warner Bros
Release date: 20 July 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard
What's the story?
When dangerous masked rebel Bane (Hardy) puts Gotham under threat, the reclusive Batman/Bruce Wayne (Bale) comes out of hiding. Meanwhile a mysterious cat burglar (Hathaway) and a beautiful business associate (Cotillard) come into his life.
What did we think?
Epic from the get-go, the final part of Nolan's Batman trilogy may just be his best, combining spectacular action set pieces with thrilling plot developments and thorough characterisation - something blockbusters so often lack.
The story's more complex than it may sound, going back into the pasts of various key characters and examining Batman's own personal demons as only Nolan can.
Aside from a few choice one-liners, Nolan definitely has his trademark long face on. While The Dark Knight Rises is very entertaining, this is no escapist comic book romp, taking a fairly serious look at life choices and mortality through its tragic hero who's driven on by anger and heartbreak.
Bale remains the perfect choice for this tortured soul, looking more world-weary than ever out of his empowering costume and only smiling in a approximately one scene (well, Cotillard would do that to anyone).
Lightening the tone a touch is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, not once referred to as Catwoman but clearly a feline figure complete with skin-tight catsuit and makeshift ears (sometimes goggles, other times a decorative hair piece).
Suitably slinky, she drops her voice an octave when the bad kitty kicks in and the film's all the more fun for it - you miss her when she's not onscreen.
Still, there are many interesting characters who deserve space, not least policeman Blake (Gordon-Levitt), who finds common ground with Bruce Wayne and becomes increasingly key to the plot. Gordon-Levitt is perfectly understated as the principled everyman who rises to the occasion without fuss or showmanship. If Nolan's Inception pushed Gordon-Levitt towards the leading-man A-list, this could be the final nudge he needs.
Cotillard, meanwhile, is a charismatic presence, if also a little sidelined by the male characters. Tom Hardy looks suitably buff and menacing in his creepy mask, even if his voice sounds like Brian Blessed wearing Darth Vader's headpiece. Meanwhile the seasoned supporting cast are solid as ever - Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine among them.
The movie also looks and sounds terrific, with a dramatic score from Hans Zimmer and spectacular effects (the Batmobile gets ever-interesting). There are other, ballsy elements of The Dark Knight Rises that are even more worthy of a mention - but you're just going to have to discover those for yourself.
Verdict: An exciting, action-packed blockbuster with brains and bravado: the highlight of the summer's cinema so far.
The film was badly written, poorly delivered, bizarrely directed and disjointedly edited.
The whole feel of the film is of a three part-er hacked down into a muddled trailer because of intellectually property issues or breached artiste/acting contracts.
The film draws upon the phenomenally successful "Knight Fall" comic trilogy but then dumps all of its good points in favor of a PC "let's make sure we've covered all of the minority groups in the casting even if we need to jettison the key points"
Bane sounds like an infant shouting through a kazoo, Hathaway manages to make wearing a cat suit look awkward to the point of puritanical, Gary Oldman looks like he's auditioning to replace David Jason as Frost, and Batman does nothing but whine.
Michael Caine struggles with difficult dialogue but nevertheless has us rummaging through girlfriends handbags for tissues as Batman declines into obscurity and Gordon-Levitt has us screaming at the screen to ditch the whiney old fart and (as Michael Caine in his Harry Palmer days might have said) "get in the bladdy suit!"
This is a film aching to be remade and remade better, which is a shame because everything was already available to Nolan to get it right the first time.