The Dark Knight RisesTaking place eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Batman has disappeared from Gotham and the Harvey Dent act has made it easier for Gotham City officials to apprehend the mob and incarcerate them. It is a time of peace and with the death of several friends in the last instalment, Bruce Wayne has become something of recluse.

Before I go any further with this, lets have a quick recap of where Batman was before the Nolan series started.

After Joel Schumacher’s dogs dinner of a film, Batman and Robin, the caped crusader was considered toxic box office (despite the fact it actually turned in a modest profit). Critically, the bat was tarnished and audiences just weren’t interested.

Five years later, enter Christopher Nolan and his production team. With Batman Begins, they took the series in a darker direction and drawing inspiration from classic comic book story lines such as Batman Year One and The Long Halloween, they grounded Bruce Wayne and co in a more tangible universe.

Needless to say Batman Begins and it’s follow-up, The Dark Knight have both been critically and commercially successful. That fact in itself is quite remarkable.

Take other comic book properties and look at how as they progress, the studio interference increases with them.

Spider-man 3 was a mess, partly due to the studios pandering of fanboys that Venom appear in the film. Batman Forever is where the rot began to sit in, with the studio asking Tim Burton to step back as a director and sit in the producer’s chair. Superman 3 saw Kal-el getting drunk, flicking peanuts at super speed and sleeping with Pamela Stephenson, all because the producers, the Salkinds thought it would be funny. It wasn’t.

So the fact that we’ve got to a third and final instalment with no evidence of interference in the creative process is something of a miracle.

Nolan – a director that has consistently proved he is a masterful story teller, understands cinema and thankfully, Warner Brothers and DC Comics appear to understand this too, as The Dark Knight Rises continues and concludes the story in the most logical direction possible.

If the studio had their way, the main villain would’ve probably been someone like the Penguin or the Riddler, so it’s telling how much clout Christopher Nolan must have when it was revealed who Batman would be grappling with.

Tom Hardy as Bane

Tom Hardy as Bane

Having Bane as the main villain is something of a masterstroke – visually he is completely different to any other villain in the series so far, yet the character he has most in common with is Batman. With Tom Hardy in the role, Bane is as ferocious as the comic Knightfall would have you believe and he is just as intelligent as Bruce.

Obviously, there is the much discussed issue with his voice and while I had no problems understanding him, you can see where some people can. It’s surprising what a big effect masking someones mouth can have on the viewing experience. I may have missed the odd word here and there, but once my ears had adjusted to this, it had no negative effect on the viewing experience.

Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman also makes her debut in the series and she is played superbly by Anne Hathaway. Presented as a cat burglar with an interest in diamonds and pearls, Anne Hathaway’s take on the character is possibly the most graceful and understanding version of Catwoman we’ve seen on screen. The cat cliches are kept to a minimum and there is none of the silly guff about 9 lives that was so prominent in Batman Returns.

Other new cast members include the ever reliable Joseph Gordon Levitt as John Blake, a good city cop that refuses to believe Batman killed Harvey Dent. Marion Cotillard also gives a memorable performance as Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprise executive board who plays a part in getting Bruce Wayne to rejoin society.

Like it’s predecessors, The Dark Knight Rises is an ensemble piece and while no one really shines in the way Heath Ledger did in The Dark Knight, there are some memorable moments that do elevate the film above your bog standard comic book movie.

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

The scenes between Michael Caine and Christian Bale are particularly touching, giving a real sense of background to the characters and Michael Caine does an excellent job in revealing the hurt growing inside the reluctant Alfred Pennyworth.

Where the film does fall down is in the mid-section.

The pacing notably slows down and some plotlines genuinely become a bit frustrating. Thankfully, things do eventually pick up again and lead up to an explosive third act with war raging on the streets of Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises may not be perfect – there are plot holes and bit of flab in the proceedings that could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. But once you see past that, there is plenty to enjoy, especially for the eagle eyed fans of the comics and the previous films.

Christopher Nolan and his production team are to be commended for delivering a worthy conclusion to their trilogy and a worthy series for the caped crusader.

It’s nice to finally have an adaptation of a mainstream comic book property that doesn’t treat the movie going audience like imbeciles. I’ll be sorry to see it go but the same time I hope they don’t return for a fourth.

The series is great the way it is.

Verdict: [rating=4]

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.

  • Elyse

    This is a really well written review Colin. We agree with most things you are saying. We thought it was a very long movie and slow in parts like you said. Tom Hardy’s perfomance was brilliant and so different to other roles he has played, Michael Caine did a really good job and connected with Christian Bale, their scenes were lovely.
    Catwoman was very cool and was one of the heroes, as was Gary Oldman!

    We wouldn’t mind seeing a new “Batman & Robin”  They have left it open for that and Blake was a good character.

    We want to see it again!

    Elyse & Mike