British director Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film is a fitting and satisfying conclusion to his Dark Knight trilogy, thanks to an engaging plot, spectacular action sequences and terrific performances from a superb cast.
After restoring credibility in Batman Begins back in 2005, followed by the tremendous box office success in 2008 thanks to The Dark Knight, the final instalment sees the return of Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) squaring off a new foe in Gotham City: Bane (Tom Hardy).
Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the film begins with bearded billionaire Bruce Wayne as a virtual recluse, having seemingly hung up the Batman outfit following a citywide crime clean up by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in the wake of the death of district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
However, when slinky cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) piques Bruce’s interest by stealing his fingerprints, he swings into action as the Caped Crusader again, much to the distress of faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine).
Unfortunately, Batman’s problems are only just the beginning, as Selina sells his fingerprints to gas-masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who has a master plan that involves stirring up a revolution in Gotham City.
Co-written with his brother Jonathan, The Dark Knight Rises continues that gritty, darker and realistic feel set by his two previous films. With the use of IMAX cameras, Christopher Nolan utilized much more of the filming to optimize the quality of the picture, meaning some truly breathtaking sequences.
The performances from the leading cast are excellent. Christian Bale seems to have taken the Joker’s “Why so serious?” taunts seriously and has lightened up a bit in the third film, while Anne Hathaway brings some much needed humour and sex appeal into play as Selina.
Tom Hardy is just tremendous as the gas-masked terrorist so intend in destroying the social foundation of Gotham City. Bane’s voice is still an issue though, as certain dialogue made it quite difficult to understand but it was certainly an improvement over the character’s original audio in the IMAX Prologue…
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also terrific as dogged cop Blake, who uncovers some truths of his own and whose story strand forms an important part of the film.
The superb talent of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are just perfect – playing the roles of Commissioner James Gordon and as Wayne’s ancillary staff of the loyal butler and president of Wayne Enterprises respectively.
And special mention goes to Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board who encourages a still-grieving Bruce Wayne to rejoin with society and continue his father’s philanthropic works. The twist at the end was a shock and yet her performance was first-class that you’ve never expected it!
Speaking of the story, the script is superb. Encompassing a sprawling, novel-like plot (there are references to Charles Dickens that go beyond an abundance of orphans) that ties everything together in a satisfying fashion.
In addition, Nolan directs some awesome set-pieces alongside some spectacular special effects work that looks incredible thanks to the IMAX cameras – the opening sequence and the scenes involving Bane’s master plan springs to mind.
However, despite the huge appraisal there are some flaws in The Dark Knight Rises… The luring by Bane involving the whole of Gotham City’s Police Department (over 3,000 officers) and trapping them all underground for several months seems ludicrous.
In addition, the super-fast recovery by Bruce Wayne following that backbreaking fight with Bane. The hero was able to heal his back problem so quickly that he was able to climb and leap out of the ‘pit’ prison with no issue.
And not forgetting, the ill-defined association between Selina and her apparent sidekick Jen (Juno Temple).
Despite those quibbles, it is fair to say that The Dark Knight Rises is the film the fans of DC Comics and superheroes have been waiting for. It certainly lives up to the hype and I would highly recommend this. See it for Bale, Hathaway, Hardy, and the awe-inspiring music by Hans Zimmer plus the beautiful cinematography by Wally Pfister.