Like all good summer blockbusters, this film was hyped up for months – if not years – before its release. So the question is: did it rise to the occasion? In many ways, it did. Like the previous Nolan-helmed Batman films, the performances were good (though Christian Bale seems to need a throat sweet more than ever), the scope and set pieces exciting and the story well-thought out. Anne Hathaway impressed as Selina Kyle, as did Marion Cotillard as a clean-energy businesswoman. Tom Hardy was visually dominant as the hulking Bane, but his dialogue was often hard to hear, through his masked-orifice.
In terms of story, the arc was clear, developing pre-existing characters, while introducing new blood such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Blake (Gordon’s protégé). Robin-Hood themes of rich versus poor seemed especially pertinent. Flashbacks to the previous two films were used well; it’s hard to imagine anyone would see the third without the preceding parts, but it helped even die-hard fans to put the pieces together. At times, it felt that there were possibly too many characters to keep track of, probably a consequence of the film’s length. As with The Dark Knight, the film felt relentless, particularly at 165 minutes long.
The stunts were incredible and there are plenty of new gadgets for Batman to play with. It is even more impressive, considering that some scenes actually used over ten thousand extras, rather than resorting to now-standard CGI tricks to depict crowds. Unlike the previous two films, here Batman genuinely seems to be more vulnerable in fight scenes, which raises the tension considerably.
Overall, this is a good film on its own merit, but compared to The Dark Knight, it falls short. The main reason for this is probably the Joker character, who had so much personality; as a villain, Bane is never really fleshed out (physicality aside). Imposing, destructive and merciless, yes, but as characters go, Bane is left wanting. There are some funny lines, but without charismatic leads, the humour from the preceding films is less obvious. Still, The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy final act to a distinguished trilogy; one that cements Nolan’s reputation as both a filmmaker and master-storyteller.
Felicity van Steenbergen (DI Reviewer), 26/07/12
Seven years ago director Christopher Nolan succeeded in the seemingly impossible, giving life (and much needed street cred) back to The Bat – the franchise returned; Batman became serious. The Dark Knight Rises is a worthy third instalment to this gritty dystopian trilogy marked with all of the tropes we now associate with the director of Memento and Inception: a challenging narrative, a rock-solid cast and a healthy mistrust of 3D cinema.
Set eight years on from The Dark Knight we find The Batman grey-streaked and limping, held up Rochester-style in Wayne manor, a recluse in self-imposed exile. Christian Bale's Batman has always been more human than hero; his armour an embodiment of his childhood fear, his psyche scarred from the loss of his parents. In the same vein, the audience are soon given an insight into the physical (no cartilidge in knees) and emotional (no girlfriend) demands of being the caped crusader. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman pair up as paternal matchmakers throughout the first act, urging Bruce to find a life 'beyond the cave', preferably perhaps with one of two love interests provided by a 'rather lovely' Marion Colitard and a cat-suit clad Anne Hathaway.
The first half of the film teases the audience with far too many characters and bitty action punctuated by drawn-out intense emotional dialogue. At one point, Wayne meets with Lucius Fox (Freeman), the Q of the Batman universe, not to discuss any new toys but... shares. 'I'm retired' he says, to which Freeman replies 'Well, let me show you some stuff anyway, for old time's sake'. 'Yes! Bring on the baddies', scream the audience. The baddies and the Big Guns.
Enter Bane (Tom Hardy), a bulky and articulate psychotic whose impassioned throaty rasps are fed through a Geiger-esque metal face mask. Even with Bruce's reinforced and armoured abs, this villain is more than a physical match for The Batman. There is a scene akin to a cage fight which reminds us that in Gotham, even the heroes bleed: no fireworks, no light-sabers, no special effects - just sweat, grit and the dull thump of knuckles on muscle.
This is a serious superhero whose pants stay (sadly) firmly underneath his suit: civil upheaval, class anarchy and mass executions, the film takes all these in its stride. But while The Dark Knight Rises maybe dark, it is not above a little giggle now and then: yes, Gotham has been over-run by revolutionary nuclear-armed anarchists but whoa, would you look at the tyres on that?
Ash Bond (DI Reviewer), 24/07/12
So, Batman returns once more to our screens in director Christopher Nolan's big budget, big bang, epic and suitably apocalyptic conclusion to the series.
The good news: in many ways this film is (in my opinion) better than its predecessor The Dark Knight. Whilst in that film Heath Ledger stole the show as the joker, the film overall confused grimness with gravitas and hence gained neither.
The Dark Knight Rises leavens things with the introduction of a sexy, smart thief, Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) who literally teases Batman along for most of the film. A young idealistic cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has an interesting backstory and is deftly played.
And the plot moves along nicely as well. In short (no spoilers) a new villain called Bane comes to Gotham to wreak havoc and Batman must stop him. Along the way he must face up to the fact that he's no spring chicken and time is as much his enemy as any other.
Therefore cue lots of explosions, quite impressively large scale fighting scenes and the generally massive tableau of Gotham city, which Nolan uses to full effect. This film is worth every penny if you're into the above.
The bad news: There are a number of annoying little sub plots which stretch out the film's running time but don't add anything. A lot of the supporting characters seem a little weary and stiff and, thinking about it, most haven't evolved over the course of the trilogy, which is a shame.
And finally, both Batman and Bane also seem to want to outdo each other with growling unintelligibly instead of speaking words the audience can understand. Note to director: this doesn't make characters sound cool, it's annoying.
It hard to review a juggernaut comic book franchise such as Batman, safe to say it'll be a big hit worldwide and if you like any kind of action in your films it's a must-see.
But hearing about the shootings in Colorado hours before seeing the film left a dirty taste in my mouth about the level of violence people expect nowadays and when enough is truly enough.
Stewart Hardy (Unverified), 21/07/12
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