Film review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, from Built For Speed

The Dark Knight Rises is the most anticipated non-Hobbit film of the year, its predecessor The Dark Knight was a box office behemoth and showed that a superhero film could pile on the action and effects and still display some brains. It’s a credit to Nolan that in all the Dark Knight films, he’s able to turn a pretty silly concept about a man in a rubber bat suit into a credible drama. He’s also topical this time as he references America’s dire financial predicament and Occupy New York style social unrest.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight and finds Bruce Wayne in a bad way.  He’s physically damaged from his battles with the Joker, he’s an emotional mess after losing Maggie Gyllenhaal and having neglected Wayne enterprises, he’s facing financial annihilation.  Just to make his day better he’s confronted by yet another strange looking villain bent on destroying Gotham city.  This time it’s a terrorist named Bane (Bronson’s Tom Hardy) whose unrivalled ability to spread chaos and violence may signal Batman and Gotham’s end. Slinking provocatively into the frame to aid Batman is the latex-suited Cat Woman played by Anne Hathaway.  Reappearing are the always welcome Michael Caine as butler Alfred and Morgan Freeman as gadget man Lucius.

Like The Dark Knight, this film succeeds because of its mix of brutal, ever- tightening tension and pulse pounding action sequences.  Nolan manages to top his remarkable eye-popping action set-pieces from the last film with some stunningly realistic scenes of destruction.

Unfortunately, like the other Dark Night movies, this one tries to cram in too much plot. The film keeps leaping between characters and furious set pieces leading to a convoluted and often confusing story.  The jumbled narrative also makes it hard to connect with the characters, so despite generally fine performances, the only powerful emotion the film generates toward the characters is a hatred of the villain.

As Bane, Hardy is certainly physically threatening, his hulking frame, bald noggin and greyhound muzzle makes him a dead ringer for the Humongous from Mad Max. Hardy seems to be the go-to guy for pscho musclemen these days.  He also has that unnerving Batman-villain ability to predict the police’s actions months in advance.  While Bane looks menacing, his voice, a cross between Darth Vader and Kenneth Williams from the Carry On films, is one of the silliest in cinema history.  It was always going to be a tall order but Hardy doesn’t come close to matching Heath Ledger’s phenomenal, iconic turn as the mocking, demonic Joker.

At over two hours this film’s combination of confusing plot and gruelling action becomes pretty draining. Nolan’s deft hand, however, stops the film from collapsing under its own weight and his ability to thrill and to delve into the darker recesses of our minds makes this a powerful finale to the Dark Knight trilogy

Nick’s rating: Three and a half stars.

Classification: PG

Director(s): Chris Nolan

Release date: 19th July 2012

Running time: 164 mins.

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