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The Dark Knight Rises Film Review.


Outside of this entry into the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, superhero action-epics has seen a revival largely through Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It gave a cinematic sense of brutality mixing potential gratuitous violence blended with socialist theory exploring evil, uprising and anarchy. Batman Begins was a solid start giving us Bruce Wayne’s beginnings and motivations which left quite nicely for The Dark Knight. Generally seen as the height of all comic-book adaptations, it boasted superb set pieces along with a masterful performance from the late Heath Ledger as the joker. The Dark Knight Rises comes off the back of The Dark Knight and in the face of the recently successful The Avengers: Assemble, it again sets the bar even higher and is just as brilliant as The Dark Knight.

Taking place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight and Gotham has had a sustained period of peace from depths of organised crime as well as corruption seen in the first two films. Batman has not been sighted since the end of The Dark Knight and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) through his injuries he sustained, he is left very much crippled (on the surface). Of course peace cannot always last especially in a comic book universe such as Batman and step forward Bane (Tom Hardy) leads a charge into Gotham intending to carry out Raz Al Ghuls plan from the first film which is to destroy Gotham to give it back to the people rather than in the clutches of the fat cats that rule the city. This is no ordinary threat and a very different threat from the joker so its clear that he needs all the help he can get including from the mysterious Selina Kyle (Catwoman- Anne Hathaway).

Without giving away if at all anything, this sets in motion a fine finale to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. The focus is very much on Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman as the film revolves around how Batman can be risen from the ashes to combat terror. Christian Bale gives his best performance as Batman yet showing a multitude of emotion rather than taking a back seat to the joker in The Dark Knight. It becomes clear what effects him personally and how he becomes motivated to fight this threat. Despite the focus being on Bruce Wayne, this has the best supporting cast and Anne Hathaway threatens to steal the show. She is magnetic, snake like and like  a British Prime Minister whose intentions is not clear but the heart is in the right place yet struts around with such posterity and femme fatale attitude she no doubt is the finest Catwoman yet.

Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and briefly Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy return from the previous films as their characters again performed suitably for the film. Newcomers are Marion Coutillard who plays a business woman also romantic ally involved with Bruce, Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays a policeman with an uncanny eye for detective work thus standing high and above from the rest of the police force. Both are played well yet Tom Hardy will give viewers a split liking. There are reasons to laud his performance and reasons to criticise. I personally thought he did very well coping with the physicality needed on show and needing to stand out away from the joker. Yet at times its hard to understand Bane through the costume set up as well as the fact he is very much a tank. Acting wise, its something that will split decision but I thought he was immense.

Where this really shines is again in its social themes and blending that with the correct circumstance and dark gritty mood that is prevalent in Batman. Bane’s plan resembles that of Marxist theory which is the common waging conflict with the rich and is the very reason as to why society will fail again and again as the rich rule. It gives a cinematic sense without dramatising too much a sense of gratified reality. Bruce Wayne does not have superpowers nor a fission powered suit. He is a man in a suit with great physical dominance beating bad guys to a pulp using rather nice vehicles and gadgets too may I add. Bruce is the rich man understanding of the poor fighting for the people not just the poor but society from destruction and crime no matter what the cause or the extremity of it. Yes the Batman trilogy has superb visual effects and yes seeing Batman vs Bane is so unnaturally brilliant but what really sets it apart from Marvels efforts and DC’s own is how this embraces death, failure, redemption and social realism touched upon so well in The Dark Knight it carries on here.

No film is perfect and each film has a weakness. The Dark Knight Rises weakness is failing to accomplish a true ending. I will not give anything away yet the film commits to one thing yet shows another thus leaving us unclear as to what is to happen in a future sequel which will no doubt happen. There is also a lack of clarity in places into how do some people know Bruce is Batman? It’s not 24 where Bane and his gangs of merry thugs hack into his home phone (I could be wrong) listening for keywords. Its assumption more than anything and although its touched upon slightly from Bane’s standing, its a little bit weak and a better exploration might have served better.

The Dark Knight Rises is a testament to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. As a final instalment, it does very little wrong and has given us cinematically a new form of comic book maturity. Tim Burton flirted with it in his two films yet Nolan embraces it, welcomes it and transforms a weak comic book hero in ways to a thing of mythology, a symbol as a defender not for the rich or poor but a defender- a knight for good. Better than The Dark Knight? No (very close though). But what this film does is trump Marvel in every way and gives a sense of realised violence that does exist and can exist in society while being so naturally believable that The Avengers, Spiderman, Superman- all other comic book films are well just other comic book films and The Dark Knight Rises is a masterful film cinematically unique in being so good to watch but dark and gritty also.

The Dark Knight Rises maintains the brilliance of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy further and is just as good as its predecessor. Basically that means it is a masterpiece in cinema and stands as one of the best superhero films if not the best with The Dark Knight. Wholeheartedly recommended and not one to miss. *****



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