Big and weighty but it does rise
Australia: 19th July, 2012 USA 20th July, 2012 UK 20th July, 2012
Other Countries: Release Dates
During the two hours and forty-four minutes of the ‘The Dark Night Rises’, in my head I wrote three different reviews. The first review started with "Batman is beyond cool and Director Christopher Nolan’s dark vision is a lesson in creating fascinating well-drawn characters. And wow, Anne Hathaway is a fabulous Cat Woman."
Second review approximately an hour in: “Move it along Mr Nolan, enough already of the miserable Bruce Wayne wallowing in self-pity. Get him a psychologist and stop having your characters repeat themselves. What an overblown monster film that sinks in the middle. Now I know why it’s almost three hours long.”
Third review over the last hour: “Finally the Dark Knight does indeed rise and hits meteoric heights with a dramatic premise, a seemingly unstoppable villain and exhilarating chase scenes.”
This final film of Nolan’s trilogy is set eight years later and Nolan wants to explore every question raised in the first two films. D.A. Harvey Dent’s elevation to idol after his death at Batman’s hands haunts Commissioner Gordon. Only he knows that Dent died, not as a hero but as the vengeful Two-Face—and that Batman disappeared in the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of Gotham City.
Bruce Wayne now a reclusive, hobbling shadow of himself has no interest in the outside world until he encounters master thief Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway)—better known as Catwoman. Despite her robbery of his own safe, he is intrigued by her and it is this curiosity that prompts his first steps back to life outside Wayne Manor.
Meanwhile it appears there is a new villain in the city, Bane (an unrecognizable mouth-manacled, Tom Hardy). Malevolent and physically brutal he personifies evil and embarks on a master plan that is not clear. One thing is clear is that only Batman can save Gotham from him.
Batman is not alone in his fight, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a wealthy philanthropist on the board of Wayne Enterprises, and police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) join him as enthusiastic allies in thwarting the latest threat. Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) returns as the ultimate gadget man and Michael Caine gives his usual perfect performance as an Alfred who no longer wishes to stand by as his master risks his life and happiness.
In all three Dark Knight films the characters are the central focus, even more than the action. Producer Emma Thomas affirms, “Right from the start, Chris set out to make each of these films something that could not be categorized into any one genre.
With this film, Nolan completes the story arc he commenced with 2005’s “Batman Begins.” He recalls, “We felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to fulfill expectations based on the first two movies while giving the audience something they hadn’t seen before. It was a tricky balance.”
“In deciding on who the next villain would be, it was imperative that it was someone completely different from the Joker—that he be a brute force.”
In one compelling scene Batman and Bane endure a lengthy fist fight in which it seems Batman may not triumph. “This scene required very intense preparation,” says Nolan. “When it came time to shoot, Christian and Tom worked extremely well together. It was frighteningly real, and quite intimidating to see these iconic, larger-than-life characters really go at it. There are plenty of other large-scale action scenes in the film, but that face-to-face confrontation between these two adversaries was something I really felt was the centerpiece of the film.”
Arguably, Batman’s greatest assets are his vehicles and he finally goes “wheels up,” thanks to Lucius Fox’s latest contribution to his arsenal: The Bat. Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley, collaborated on the design of the state-of-the-art airborne machine. “There are a lot of moving parts: the cockpit opens; the aerial flaps all operate; and it has working rotors and lights. It’s nearly 30 feet long and 17 feet wide and weighs about 3,000 pounds; it’s a big piece of machinery.”
As the rise and fall, and rise again, of this last Dark Knight instalment draws to a close in the final scenes, there will be no disgruntled patrons in any cinema. It may be a little long, it may be a little too dark, and it may be we’ve learnt a little more about Batman than we care to know. However, there is enough greatness here to overcome the lag. In an age where blockbusters are manufactured to please rather than provoke, most will forgive Nolan’s indulgences in this grandly imagined and passionately executed conclusion, which appears to leave more than a few doors open for another series.