The Dark Knight Rises

I have not been to the cinema since being disappointed by Prometheus – not the main reason, the main reason is I can’t justify spending the money these days unless it’s a BIG film that has to be seen on the silver screen. So along rolls Nolan’s last outing for Warner Brothers in the Batman franchise (altho I notice his name in the trailer for the Superman film due out next year), a huge juggernaut of a film that promised to satisfy me in all the places that Prometheus didn’t. Was I expecting too much after the excellent second film? No I was demanding excellence, nothing short of perfection would satisfy me.

So…. (caution here there be spoilers!)…

I have to say it is a really good film, not as good in terms of spectacle as the previous Joker and Two-Face vehicle, but like an overloaded Tesco’s Home Delivery truck it delivered a lot more goods than anything else I’ve seen so far this year.

Bruce Wayne is hiding away in his mansion that’s in the UK, but we’re pretending for the sake of suspension of reality is in Gotham (and not Gotham in the UK…) he’s been in self-exile since killing Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face in the last film. Albert the butler played vaguely again by Michael Caine wants him to stay away from his Batman persona, but the rise of a new villain (Bane) on (or should I say under?) the city’s streets encourages Wayne to get suited up again. He goes to see God, sorry I mean Fox played by Morgan Freeman who as the equivalent of James Bond’s Q provides him with pretty much the only new ‘gadget’ on show – the ‘bat’ or as most people will refer to it the batcopter, an ugly looking insectile thing modelled very much on the shape of the chunky Batmobile.

Catwoman is played by Anne Hathaway, Bane is played by Tom Hardy – both are okay, but more screen time is given to a ‘hot head’ cop played by, flavour of the year since Inception, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His role is more three-dimensional and it was immediately obvious to me that he was going to be revealed as an embryonic Robin somewhere along the way.

Seems like pretty much every main player apart from Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Catwoman know that Wayne is Batman. you think that the old guy would’ve worked it out by now.

Bane is up to no good in sewers. Wayne Industries has moth-balled a Nuclear reactor because they found out it could be weaponised. Are these two things connected? of course they are.

Enter Marion Cotillard as Miranda, no not the hapless hefferlump from BBC2’s ‘hilarious’ sitcom, but a member of Wayne Industries board and a big fan of green energy. I was immediately suspicious of her and as soon as Ra’s al Ghul was mentioned (Bane is supposedly an excommunicated disciple of his League of Assassins or whatever it’s called in the films) I thought, oh well she’s Talia al Ghul (his daughter).  A red herring is thrown in the barrel to misdirect you into thinking Bane is Ra’s al’s son, but for anyone into the comics we know this is guff. Interesting Wayne bones Miranda so could lead to a ‘Son of Batman’ scenario as detailed in one version of the mythos.

Oh, and did I mention the batcopter has no auto-pilot? No? Well they do in the film. A couple of times. Thus pointing it out as a significant flaw for use in plotting later. Perhaps our hero has to fly the Batcopter into peril, make the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ required by any hero in Screenwriters 101 Course entitled ‘How to write a successful action movie’. Maybe perhaps take the weaponised nuclear core up into the air before it destroys the city at the end of the film perhaps? Oh yeah, that’s what happens…

Predictability aside the film is very entertaining and a great robust book-end to round of the trilogy nicely; The relatively unknown and previously untouched (in the previous 4 ‘original’ Batman films) character Ra’s al Ghul turns out to be very important in the first and this last film. The Joker now feels almost like an aberration.

The Scarecrow gets a little cameo although he’s not suited / gassed up but acting as a judge in Gotham’s revolutionary kangaroo court dealing out justice as either death or exile. Exile consists of walking across the ice of Gotham’s river which generally cracks leading to death by drowning anyway. the irony! Robin / Nightwing? gets a little mention as previously stated. Killer Croc is alluded to subtly by Gordon-Levitt’s character.

The only criticisms I have are very minor and they are that sometimes the music (excellent though it is) drowned out what characters were saying, what they were saying was also sometimes muffled due either to Bane’s mask or Christian Bale’s growling ‘this is how batman speaks’ voice and that the relationship between Selina (Catwoman) and Wayne is not very well developed.

If he was so into Selina after catching her nabbing his mum’s pearl necklace (don’t!) from his supposed uncrackable safe then why does he then sleep with Miranda? There is a far too subtle hint that Selina might swing both ways given she has a very friendly female flatmate (a Juno Temple bit-part) but is that really any excuse for Wayne to bed Miranda? Especially as Wayne ends up with his ‘hero’s reward’ (ref: ‘How to write a successful action movie’ again) in the form of Selina.

Oh also, as required by the mythos, Bane beats the beejeezus out of Batman and breaks his back. Now I’m no medical expert, but I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t recover quite as successfully from that injury as our hero does, but then he’s our hero, so we’ll let it slide and give the film a big almost nine (8/10).

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