The Dark Knight Rises
I apologize for any spoilers or for that matter mistakes I did get ahead of myself, tread carefully if you have yet to see it.
A trilogy and director that gives great hope to the Hollywood blockbuster.
It’s almost impossible for me not to be a fan of Christopher Nolan simply looking at his recent film track record is enough. Memento was his first major film (if we discount Following) and is probably one of my favourite films. After the confusing events in Memento, he took Al Pacino into a world of sleep deprivation and murder in Insomnia. And now 2005 he releases Batman Begins, behind the famous cowl is Christian Bale who’s previous films included The Machinist another one of my favourite films and I urge people to see it. Then came the surprisingly impressive The Prestige, before we finally reached Batman’s second outing in The Dark Knight which of course offered us one of the best villain performances in Heath Ledger’s The Joker. Such was the success of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan was allowed a creative freedom like no other. Most directors can only dream of getting funding for a film where they are allowed complete control to create something as epic as Inception. The reason it was so good was the fact a blockbuster (with a budget of around $160million) dared to challenge its audience.
If that brief roundup on his films was not already enough to impress you then hear this, the man doesn’t like 3D. Now of course you could like 3D, but this would mean you like 3D so therefore you are not entitled to an opinion. I don’t like 3D.
Now set eight years on from the events of its predecessor, batman is an outcast. A new villain by the name of bane is emerging to take over Gotham, and so the dark knight must rise to protect his city and its people.
I have always struggled with superheroes, not entirely sure why I just don’t enjoy them that greatly. However if I had to chose one it would have to be Batman, when I compare him to the likes of Spiderman or Iron man, I just feel more comfortable with the ways of the bat. I believe for the purposes of this view it will be easier to focus on only the batman films, not that the TV series or comics are unimportant far from it, it will just be easier to compare the differences (and unfortunately I have not read enough of the comics to do them justice(league)).
One of the many great positives the film offers is the mature approach it offers, and by this we get a much darker and bleak mood. Rather surprisingly this is something Tim Burton failed to achieve and this is a man who is famous for employing a Gothic look to his films. With the Michael Keaton Batman and Batman Returns it all feels like a theatre production and whilst having its bleak aspects we never quite got that feeling we expected. A problem perhaps was using two comedic villains in the joker and the penguin, Jack Nicholson’s villain only left us laughing and not feeling disturbed by the demonic Heath Ledger.
Aside from praising Nolan it’s well worth mentioning his loyal (actually not anymore as he takes his path towards directing) DOP Wally Pfister. It’s odd for me to call a superhero film beautiful or indeed art worthy, but thanks to brilliant cinematography The Dark Knight Rises is a wonderful exception. Shots generally feel awe-inspiring much like the way it did for Inception (of course Wally Pfister again) this with some lighting that can oddly be comparable to films like Seven and Alien. At the edge of shots we get a deep blackness and so we should because this is Batman after all.
Its not an easy comparison (two of the major comic book companies) perhaps not even fair depending where your loyalties lie (if they even do) but the major rival this year for Batman will be The Avengers. My opinion on the extravagant Marvel get together is generally a positive one. I surprisingly enjoyed it a lot more than I had expected, the epicness of bringing such a large cast of characters together made it difficult to go any further than purely enjoying the rollercoaster of superhero fun that it ultimately is. I will never speak of how The Avengers offered something great to the cinema history but it did give a refreshing taste to the superhero films, especially following that Spiderman trilogy and subsequent Hulk films.
However Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises and the two batman films before it has for my money offered cinema of at least recent history, a gift that I believe we should all welcome with open arms. We have all the familiar characters/actors from the first instalments, Christian Bale continues his great performance of Bruce Wayne and is never better than in the scenes in which we see his fragility. Reprising their roles alongside Bale is Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman all are great in their roles that to a degree take a back seat. And their are a few cameos to keep fans happy. New members are Inception buddies Tom Hardy as Bane, Joseph Gordon- Levitt as Blake and Marion Cotillard as Miranda. And lastly Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle or Catwoman.
A little niggle throughout the trilogy has been the character of Albert (not Michael Caine he is great) as of yet I can’t pinpoint it but I have just found his lines and actions very predictable. And whilst he obvious offers Bruce the comfort and relation that he struggles to gain from anyone else, it just never sat well with me. Anyway it wasn’t that important.
Its interesting to see the two new female characters though both play important roles in the story they seem to be mostly left in the background. With not a great deal of screen time they threatened to be left as incredibly dull and unexplored characters and for the best part they remained exactly that. This of course is to be expected with a film of so many story threads and characters someone is bound to be left out, so whilst this could have been a redeeming negative it is easily thwarted by the last third of the film. As for Tom Hardy’s Bane I really felt we went to a new level of pure badness add this to the obvious political intentions Nolan filters in throughout (Stock exchange raid, rioting and terrorism) he is giving the public exactly what they want and whilst this can backfire (Michael Bay often says he is giving people what they want with his films, pfft!) the overall tone these elements offer are just right.
A lot of people have commented on Banes voice and that at times it’s near impossible to understand what he is saying and whilst I was able to keep up with him I can understand this problem. Perhaps it was the booming soundtrack that overlaid the gruffness of his voice or it may even be that it’s better in IMAX but I just believes it requires the audience to remain concentrated throughout. Bane is meant to offer the people of Gotham the freedom and control they deserve, but in fact he is merely exploiting them (again with political intentions) a bit like a Dictator.
Now of course this film features the typical superhero stuff featuring a lot of clichés (e.g. ticking time bomb) that might lead to one holding it against the film itself. However it’s the way it tackle these themes that change it from typical to fantastically enjoyable. Many times I have been that person to sigh when everything seemingly falls into place, but in this case it all seems quite beautiful. Again without spoilers the ending can again suffer the same fall as the clichés. As with most Christopher Nolan films the ending is left to the viewers interpretation (talk Inception and everyone seems to have a different view) for me it tied everything we had learnt previous together in an ultimately satisfying end.
Alright then I will just mention the brilliant use of special effects matched with the very physical action sequences. Belief can easily be lost when watching a film of such CGI proportions but thanks to a constant presence of real stunt scenes we never leave the world of batman, in fact we are drawn further in.
A superhero trilogy that is a world apart in its genre and in doing so Nolan has now offered the Hollywood blockbuster we know of, a different and altogether far more satisfying look.