There aren’t many movie sequels that live up to the original. There are even fewer trilogies that make the grade. Seriously, I can only think of The Bourne series and the Indiana Jones films as examples where the quality has been maintained the whole way through. Can Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman film join that elusive list?
For those who don’t know The Dark Knight Rises is set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. After Harvey Kent’s death has been blamed on Batman, Gotham has been relatively crime free, while Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has hung up his cape and is living like a recluse. Threatening Gotham’s new found peace is Anne Hathaway’s morally ambiguous Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman, although she’s never called that on screen) and Tom Hardy’s villainous Bane.
I’m a big fan of Nolan’s work as a director. As with Inception and the previous Batman films Nolan isn’t afraid to mix intelligent films with high entertainment value, and The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t disappoint. Nolan gives us dramatic car chases, fights and most memorably Gotham’s football stadium imploding on itself. But the audience is also treated to discussions on state responsibility and tensions between the haves-and have not’s.
Whereas most trilogy fail by introducing too many new characters to the mix (looking at you Spiderman 3) the characters slip effortlessly into Nolan’s world and serve a purpose to the plot instead of feeling shoehorned in. Finally Nolan gives us a strong female character in Selina Kyle, she brings a sense of fun sometimes missing in the Batman series and her quips bring plenty of laughs to the screen. Also making a great debute to the Batman series is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as police officer John Blake who gives the film heart as he encourages Bruce Wayne to come back into action.
The film’s main antagonist Bane is a good opponent for Batman to end his trilogy with. He is a mix of brawn and brains, showing he is more than a match for Bruce Wayne as shown in their brutal first fight together. Wayne has been out of the crime fighting game for a while and having gathered various injuries, Bane knows how to use those weakness against him and comes across as a credible threat to Gotham’s stability.
There are a few downsides to the film. Michael Cane’s Alfred doesn’t have as much screen times as in the earlier films, and the romance between Bruce Wayne and Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate is dull with little chemistry between the two. There’s much more spark in his encounters with Catwoman. Although Tom Hardy is great as Bane, he has a distracting and sometimes inaudible voice that’s almost as irritating as the voice Bale puts on for Batman. Was there a secret bet going on as to who had the more ridiculous voice?
There is more I want to comment on in this film but it does involve huge spoilers which I wouldn’t want to ruin for anyone else. But there were moments in this film which made my inner fan girl scream with delight. A good film to end on.
About as brutal and serious as a blockbuster gets, Nolan’s Dark Crusader will be missed.