Monday, 23 July 2012
REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
164 Minutes. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Morgan Freeman. Director: Christopher Nolan. Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan
Batman begun again with a realistic rebirth once Christopher Nolan flipped the comic-book script on a franchise that made silly but super-fun light of Tim Burton's early, dark shadows. No more cheesy, ice-cold Mr. Freeze catchphrases and Bat-Cards that the films should have been left without. Instead came 'Batman Begins' the inception of this new, dark start. Then thanks to a classic Oscar-winning, every scene stealing performance from the late, great Heath Ledger (besting Jack Nicholson's Joker with his own reinvention and rebirth of a timeless, incredible, classic characterization) 'The Dark Knight' wasn't only the greatest Batman, let alone superhero film of all time. It was also arguably the greatest sequel and one of the best of all movies of all time. Now to become one of the greatest trilogy's of all time alongside 'The Godfather' and 'The Lord Of The Rings' how do you follow such a groundbreaking, earth-shaking classic? You rise!
Still 'The Dark Knight Rises' was always going to have a lot to live up to and a lot to deal with. Especially when triumph turns into tragedy with the loss of a great actor and man. Still with all due respect to Heath, Nolan moves on with no reference to the Joker out of taste and decency to Ledger's memory. It's a bold and thoughtful move. Thank God they didn't try to replace him (like the early Johnny Depp rumors stated) because they wouldn't have been able to do it. Instead of that Nolan takes the story forward eight years and brings some more classic characters to the comic-book fold. The amazing Aaron Ekchart's both side of the coin perfect portrayal of Two-Face is gone too, but Harvey Dent's presence is influentially felt throughout. Still like Nolan's distinct direction and Hans Zimmer's sublime, cinematic, classic score more old faces than you expect are back in black.
Bale's brilliant Batman and wonderful Bruce Wayne alter-ego are back in their cape and cowl in the centre of things. While the old veterans Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are back on helpful hand as the Bat's amazing alleys and with brilliant acting from the big three, this third act stays on the grand epic scale. Still to close this Batman chapter out a little more is needed and that's where Nolan brings practically everyone apart from Leonardo DiCaprio (he was actually rumored to play The Riddler at one point, now how good would that have been?) from his incredible, inbetween 'Inception' dream movie to wake up this finale. Caine was already in place and if you where wondering Ken Wantabe was in 'Begins'. OK so Ellen Page from 'Juno' isn't in this but rising star Juno Temple is. Mainly though femme fatale Marion Cotillard, the Peter Pan of Hollywood Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the classic by the casting, character chameleon Tom Hardy are and it's the latter two that steal the show from our leading Bat, just like they did to the leading Leo in 'Inception'.
A lot has been made from the buzz and hype of Hardy's Bronson like portrayal of Bane (just look at the size of him, and his post-Pittsburgh training in last years best picture 'Warrior' for the size of it). Aside from the fact that no one was ever going to beat Ledger's Joker and a few almost "I'm Ron Burgundy", hilariously, weird vocal moments we have the perfect villain. Instead of The Joker's mind games this physical foil literally beats Batman and his city down. It's the only way you could go after Batman's psychological destroying by the clown. With this film and the selection of Bane, Nolan had to go physical until this Dark Knight had nothing left. The peculiar muffled voice is perfect in parts and maddened and magnificent in others. While the look, feel and prominent presence of this villain is just too much to handle, making for some truly tense and gripping, thriller moments
Gordon-Levitt may be the one man who can take Bane though almost man-handling the show away from him. It's a wonder this boy isn't the same kid we saw in '3rd Rock From The Sun' because the baby-faced thirtysomething still has that youth about him which makes him perfect for this young beat-cop role. It's clear to see from his mature acting and lead aspiring performance that he is all grown up and ready for even bigger stages that he was chosen for. He's truly inspired. That's not to forget the other cat that Nolan has let out of the bag. Taking the controversial choice of Anne Hathaway's Catwoman and showing it's another Joker mind-changer. Anne doesn't only fit into the catsuit perfectly. She also owns and wears it, making it her own. Just like Nicholson to Ledger, Michelle Phiffer will always be great, but its a new day now and it's Hathaway's character now. Selina Kyle's cat-burglar steals some scenes and helps the show go on.
Blending elements of 'Batman Begins' and 'The Dark Knight' together 'Rises' truly hits new highs, but it isn't without some lows and falls however. Nolan gets his Michael Bay on throwing everything at this epic, relentless end. Still when you throw everything at the wall sometimes not everything sticks. There's some mistakes, 'Basil Exposition' and almost Adam West era, corny 'Batman' moments. The pace is a little off at times too making this thing move a little awkward, like the bold but brilliant addition of the flying 'Bat', but still just because this movie isn't a stone cold, send you Bat-S***, crazy classic doesn't mean it isn't great. As for the best picture accreditation, this film will be a lot closer to the classic worthy competition of 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Avengers' in the great year of 2012. Still this isn't the end of the world. It's just how good everything truly is.
The genius move however is taking Gotham City back to it's origins of New York. The classic, 'untouchable' city of Chicago provided a beautiful backdrop for the first two flicks but taking Gotham back to it's core in New York City is truly something else. From some aerial assaults, to the best, brutal hand to hand combat that leaves other superhero films in a league of shadows to stadium rocking, special effect field days this big and bold film makes brilliant noise. Even if it is louder than some expect. This trilogy goes out with a bang and as exciting and enthusiastic as it is it's just as moving and awe inspiring. The finale and closing chapter is formidable, favorable and fitting too. Still, even though Nolan has closed his comic it's clear this isn't the end for Batman and the legend will live on. Through a reboot, a 'Justice League' movie or something else we don't know. What we do know is it won't be the same without Nolan and Bale's Bat and all the other realms of this reality they could make real. This can't be the end. Can it? Is this it? Or do you want more? TIM DAVID HARVEY.