FILM REVIEW THE DARK KNIGHT RISES 2012
Spoiler Alerts – some of the film’s big surprises are staying under wraps even here – the final 30 minutes of the film carry several surprises as jaw dropping in magnitude as Darth Vader’s declaration of his real relationship to Luke Skywalker.
There was some sadness and even a sense of guilt in watching this film within 24 hours of the killings in Denver, Colorado, where a crazed gunman shot his way through the audience attending a screening of the movie, killing eleven and wounding another forty people.
This is the spectacular conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, with ongoing support from the well used Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman.
The primary villain is Bane, played by Tom Hardy in a metallic mask, which is never fully removed in the film. This is not just a disguise as with Bruce Wayne’s Batman mask, but serves as a means to ease the pain in Bane’s busted face.
I read media reviews claiming that Hardy’s speeches are incomprehensible due to his mask but he speaks loudly and clearly throughout the film, often sounding like a young Sean Connery.
The Bane story is well known to Batman fans for its shocking twists in the Batman story in the comics. That is supurbly captured on screen too. More surprising is Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, (un-named as such), a performance that outshines those of any of her TV and movie predecessors in the role. The chemistry between her and Bale positively smoulders.
John Gordon-Lovett’s young cop (later a detective), Blake, is a great character too, and the first to work out that Wayne is really Batman.
Wayne has spent the years since The Dark Knight as a virtual recluse. Batman, officially a fugitive in taking the blame for Harvey (Two Face) Dent’s crimes, has virtually disappeared, and Commissioner Gordon has used the Dent act to virtually clean up the streets of Gotham without the aid of the Caped Crusader.
A combination of his gruelling fighting tactics and inactivity since hanging up his costume has reduced Wayne to a near cripple. Much of his muscle and cartilage has gone and he walks with a cane. He comes out of retirement due to Bane’s activity.
When Wayne foils an attempted robbery by a new maid (Catwoman), it leads him on to the trail of Bane, a ruthless terrorist regarded as too extreme for Ras Al Ghul’s League Of Shadows, which Bane has taken charge of since Ghul’s apparent demise in the first film, Batman Begins.
Wayne’s financial fortune is also crumbling. His business board are calling for his removal from office. Only one possible investment can revive his fortunes – a fusion energy generator he has developed, but discovering tat it could serve as a nuclear bomb in the wrong hands, Wayne refuses to allow the project to proceed. Unfortunately, the Board, influenced by Bane, allow Bane to gain control of the devise, with which he holds Gotham to ransom, virtually taking over the city. He manages to trap the entire police force underground, and for a time, gets rid of Batman too.
There are some amazing scenes and set pieces. The Bat-bike, often driven by Catwoman, is stunning, and the Bat, a hovering plane platform is equally impressive especially in climatic chase sequences. Bane’s destruction of a football stadium and Gotham’s bridges looks very well staged.
Bane’s crushing defeat of Batman is as shocking on film as in the comics. Bane’s reign of terror in Gotham, with prisoners among the rich, powerful and the police subjected to death by being forced to walk across the thin ice of the frozen Gotham rover is very impressive. The tension in some scenes is nerve shredding.
Flaws – there are not many, though Freeman’s Fox is seen from the start as still being in control of Wayne Industries and Wayne’s formidable armouries. At the close of The Dark Knight, Fox walked out of the job on principle – now he is back without any persuasion.
The second flaw relates to the shattered Batman’s imprisonment. Bane takes him to a remote fortress that seems to be in Istanbul (though some commentators describe it as been in Mexico). Though Wayne breaks free, he does not help the other prisoners who assist him in his recovery programme. With Wayne and Bane both unable to provide them with food or communication, are these inmates, including Tom Conti, going to starve to death?
A fantastic conclusion to a brilliant working of the Batman mythos. It will be interesting to see what future filmmakers do with the Batman.