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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Film: The Dark Knight Rises by Christopher Nolan

I love Christopher Nolan’s work, particularly Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; I have been excited for the finale to this amazing trilogy for about two years, when it was first announced. The day finally came when I could watch it and I was so impressed that I paid to see it again later that same day. The question that was at the forefront of my mind was whether Nolan would manage to top The Dark Knight, which is generally agreed to be one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Unfortunately The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t quite manage to trump the exceedingly high standards set by its predecessor, but it comes oh so tantalisingly close.

Set eight years on from The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and even walks with a stick, claiming to have retired from Batman. When the formidable villain Bane threatens Gotham with his brutish terrorism however, Bruce decides to face the world and resume the role of Batman once more.

Bane (Tom Hardy) is a great villain, and I’m glad that Nolan chose such a different type of foe from the Joker. Bane is not interested in chaos like the Joker was - he has a plan, and what’s more he is giant, extremely built and proves to be more than a match for Batman physically - as a distinct contrast to Batman’s match of wits with the Joker, in Rises Batman faces a match of strength. Tom Hardy is undoubtedly a phenomenal actor - he does so much with his eyes alone due to the limitations of his mask. Hardy succeeds in portraying Bane as a terrifying terrorist and the character has immense presence in every scene he appears in.

Like most Batman fans, I was initially sceptical about Nolan’s choice of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, considering her previous girly roles. She was brilliant however; she was serious and sultry, portraying Selina Kyle as someone with more depth than I have seen previously, and I think she’s the best Catwoman yet. I really like the distinct variation from the traditional ‘Catwoman’ image that was projected in Rises; there are no cats, no cheesy Michelle Pfeiffer style ‘miaow’, and she is always called Selina, never ‘Catwoman’. Even her ‘costume’ is not overtly feline either - Selina Kyle is a cat burglar, not a superhero, and she dresses as such. Her burglars goggles cleverly sit upon her head to resemble cat ears, and her suit befits what a stealthy thief would wear - all in all her costume design was very imaginatively thought up. These changes to Catwoman/Selina Kyle suit the more realistic trend that runs through the Dark Knight trilogy and makes the distinction between reality and the comic book world which older Batman movies have adhered to much more closely than Nolan.

Despite the film being close to 3 hours in length, it really does not feel that long at all; the pace was quick and there was constant action to keep things moving. The plot also required a little suspension of disbelief, as all of the events were not as grounded in realism as the first two films. As in the Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the music was sensational. There is a scene that completely lacked music and it was really effective and demonstrates Nolan’s brilliant creativity.

The plot is good and involves a few twists, although if you know the comics at all you might be able to predict them easily enough. The last 10-15 minutes took me on such a rollercoaster of emotions that I felt drained afterwards; the ending was very intense and emotional and I defy anyone not to be on the edge of their seat!

In conclusion, although The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t quite have the same ‘wow’ factor as The Dark Knight, it’s an amazing film and is so close to being perfect. Bane is not as exciting a villain as the Joker, but I don’t think any villain could have topped the sheer charisma of the Joker, so I think this slight inferiority was to be expected - plus the sheer contrast between the two gives each film a very different feel which is a positive thing. The acting is great, the music is great and the story is great. An excellent film and I am already eagerly awaiting Nolan’s next project.

Rating: 9/10

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