The Dark Knight Rises: Without a hint of opening credits, Gary Oldman appears onscreen at a press conference, where the world is mourning the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
Yes, it’d been ages since I saw The Dark Knight, and I wasn’t at all impressed with it, but I was reminded in a brief snatch that he was Two-Face, something of which the population of Gotham seemed completely unaware. Batman had taken the rap for this and had fallen from grace as a result.
As The Dark Knight Rises begins, our hero (Christian Bale) is holed up in his big mansion, living the life of a recluse, walking with a stick and being a general grumpy bum. At Wayne Manor, he stumbles across a cleaner who’s busy-bodying around in an area he later tells Alfred (Michael Caine going through the motions) should be kept clear of the service staff because the one he’s encountered is actually Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), and she’s stolen his mum’s jewels or something which sets up a scene before long of the two of them meeting in a public place. And as usual, they have a love-hate relationship. They’d each rather the other one wasn’t around, but they find they are each a necessary evil for the other.
Oh, I’ve missed out another important entrance – this film’s bad guy, Bane (Inception‘s Tom Hardy), a man wearing a gimp mask, and if he takes it off then he’ll die. I forget why, now, but he’s being chartered on a plane organised by the CIA, led by Aidan Gillen, but which is soon interrupted by the nasty one’s henchmen and can work out what happens there.
So, what’s the plot? Erm… there isn’t one really. Bane starts kicking up a stink around Gotham City and there’s only one man who can stop him, but because of what’s happened in the past, for some time, whenever Batman tries to sort out the minor bad guys, he gets stopped in his tracks by the police, although thanks to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), he has a couple of new additions to his vehicle range, namely the Bat-Pod and also a flying machine simply known as The Bat.
Earlier in the series, Bruce also revealed he had this fusion generator thing which, to the layman, would be able to generate enough oomph to power a whole city, and now, somehow, Bane’s tampered with its technical doohickey to turn it into a bomb. Yes, this plot ain’t going to win any awards come the Oscar season.
Of the main cast, Gary Oldman returns as Commissioner Jim Gordon, wandering around doing this and that and assisting our hero from time to time once he knows at Batman’s still a good guy, Inception‘s Joseph Gordon-Levitt is cop Blake, who’s one of the few city cops left to do battle once the rest become trapped after a neat situation brought about by Bane at a football stadium; Inception‘s Marion Cotillard plays a French chick called Miranda;
Matthew Modine is straight-down-the-line (i.e. dull) top cop, Foley; Burn Gorman is quite amusing in his role but I just spent half of his screen time trying to remember who he was and where I’d last seen him. It was Torchwood.
Also, there’s Inception‘s Cillian Murphy in a Judge role, although he’s credited as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, not that you’d know it from the moments he spends in front of the camera. There’s Liam Neeson turning up again as Ra’s Al Ghul, but he can’t really have come back from the dead, can he? And, finally, there’s Tom Conti as a prisoner, whose relevance will be made clear when the time comes.
So, looking at the francise as a whole, even though I’ve thought all the Batman films over the past 25 years have been hit and miss and never excellent, for the most recent crop, I thought Batman Begins was okay, while The Dark Knight was very so-so, and while Heath Ledger was good, he was NOT Oscar-worthy, but then we all know he only got that on the unfortunate account of him being dead.
The Dark Knight Rises falls somewhere inbetween the two. It’s a big YES for the IMAX action, during which the screen opens up to fill the full 1.44:1 frame and looks spectacular, even if it’s only used for a brief location establishing shot between conventional scenes, but there was a lot of talking & pontificating that could’ve been tightened up & Bane often needed subtitles. His voice comes out as if it’s amplified but he often mumbles and I’d have to watch this again to catch everything he said, but I’m not in an immediate hurry to do so as it was almost 3 hours long. And it really didn’t need to be. In fact, while I’ve given it 6/10, the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to drop it to 5. I think I’ll leave it at 6 for now, though.
So, thanks, Christopher Nolan, for some great action sequences, but, really, Inception and Memento were the films which I see as your best to date and I’ll stick with those for now, although I hear The Prestige is a triumph so I’ll catch that at some point, too.
And some comment on this film, which I’ll surround by spoilers…
Running time: 164 minutes
Released: July 20th 2012
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (2D) (Anamorphic Panavision) / 1.44:1 (IMAX) (some scenes)
Viewed at: Odeon Cinema, Manchester Printworks
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven and Emma Thomas
Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer)
Music: Hans Zimmer
Bruce Wayne: Christian Bale
Commissioner Jim Gordon: Gary Oldman
Bane: Tom Hardy
Blake: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Selina: Anne Hathaway
Miranda: Marion Cotillard
Fox: Morgan Freeman
Alfred: Michael Caine
Foley: Matthew Modine
Dr. Pavel: Alon Moni Aboutboul
Daggett: Ben Mendelsohn
Stryver: Burn Gorman
CIA Op: Aidan Gillen
Jen: Juno Temple
Blind Prisoner: Uri Gavriel
Ra’s Al Ghul: Liam Neeson
Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow: Cillian Murphy
Prisoner: Tom Conti
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.