It would be impossible to discuss The Dark Knight Rises without first paying homage to The Dark Knight. Not only is the latter the namesake of the new film, it was also what provided such a platform of hype and anticipation. Fans were left in the wake of a psychological battle for Gotham’s soul that rendered Batman an outcast and broken man. So The Dark Knight Rises deals with an interesting dynamic: a Batman who has faced his last caped crusade.
Only it doesn’t work like that; he doesn’t get to ride off into the sunset on his Bat-Bike while Gotham lives happily every after. Everyone knows Gotham has more issues than Lady Gaga and Britney Spears combined. This city really can’t get a break. Take Wayne Enterprises for instance. They create a renewable energy generator, the solution to the global energy crisis, and but a few weeks later a scientist publishes a paper on how to turn said generator into the ultimate nuclear weapon. Queue the sinister plot to overthrow Gotham and the battle for their souls… again. Why villains are so captivated with the city and its soul is beyond me…
Bane takes this fight to the next level though: while the Joker had the citizens face off against the criminals on a boat, Bane has the citizens and criminals face off against the rich throughout the entire city. It poses interesting moral dilemmas about the wealthy and cultural elite, but more interestingly allows for the Scarecrow to make another appearance as judge, jury and executioner for the new law of Gotham. So, amidst all this horror, is there any hope? Well, there is the stunning Anne Hathaway to lighten the dark, gritty cinematography of Nolan.
Personally I was deeply cynical when I heard Catwoman would be in the film; I mean let’s face it, the previous depictions of Catwoman have been less than ideal. Halle Berry was certainly attractive enough, but the movie was not. It was more of an awkward fur ball that needed coughing up to get it out of the way before we could have a decent Selina Kyle slink across our screens.
However, Catwoman was not an issue for me. It was once again an accent issue, but not of our beloved Bat… Bale had toned down the guttural gargling of the previous film, with only the one scene of “whrrr is ddd detonator, rawww rawww!” Bane’s accent on the other hand was some mangled Eastern European crossed with Middle Eastern and a dash of Robot. Tom Hardy was exceptional and his physical prowess offered a contrast to the psychological warfare of the Joker, but his accent was farcical. I found it hard to be intimidated by any of his would-be hard-hitting lines, which is a shame as some of them were fantastic. The plane scene in the opening was particularly inspired, but his voice simply undermined the brilliant dialogue.
This said, the accent quibble is but a dent in the armour of an outstanding movie. Nolan surpassed every expectation any director could ever have placed on them, creating an exceptional work which featured innovative filming techniques. “The Bat” (the plane crossed with helicopter that Fox creates) was filmed on the back of a truck and suspended from a helicopter (despite weighing over one ton) to create a vehicle that really took off with our imaginations. He also had the sewer set created entirely from scratch and altered to suit each scene, creating a new, sinister world under the streets of Gotham. However, not every set was purpose-built; the fights outside Wall Street and City Hall were filmed on location and had over one thousand police and criminals face off in a truly outstanding piece of cinema. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a scene that had been touched by a green screen, as Nolan was so determined to create an authentic movie which would better immerse the audience – and immersed you are. My one complaint would be that the film is not 3D, but it is so mind-bendingly inconceivable that perhaps it was safer to keep to 2D, so as not to over stimulate the eager fans.
The most gripping aspect of the film was Michael Caine’s depiction of Alfred, a character I have always held dear. His acting was compelling and deeply moving, the highlight of the film. Although comic book movies rarely receive recognition by the Academy I would be appalled if Caine doesn’t at least receive some serious consideration. Those who have seen the film will know the scene that stole the movie for me and almost has me reaching for a tissue. It was a moment of poignancy and emotion that cut through the action and adrenaline of the film, reminding us of the man behind the mask and the people around him, and offering a real image of Wayne’s frailty and the impact he has on the people he loves.
Taking over $64 million in one weekend, with its nearest competitor taking a mere $13 million, it is clear that Batman is set to dominate the box office and fans alike. Although it is the end of a legacy, a trilogy which has featured some of Batman’s greatest foes and some mind-blowing cinema, it felt more like a beginning than an end. The Boy Wonder received a brilliant introduction from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who portrayed an aspiring young police detective who was eager for justice. Perhaps the cowl has been hung up, but the yellow cape may yet have its big screen debut…