THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (m)
When: Now showing
Where: On general release
FANS have been frothing at the mouth for the third and final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s triumphant reboot of the Batman franchise since 2008’s stunning Dark Knight. Heath Ledger’s terrifying turn as the Joker created a rock solid foil for Christian Bale’s caped crusader, with the tragedy of Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent almost Shakespearian.
Picking up eight years later, The Dark Knight Rises revisits Bruce Wayne as a Howard Hughes-like recluse. Batman is a forgotten fugitive, having taken the fall for Dent’s supposed murder in order to keep hope alive for Gotham’s citizens.
Unfortunately for the early retirement plan, a shadowy warlord known only as Bane comes to Gotham, forcing its leaders to pay for the city’s sins. As he beats Gotham into spectacular submission, a reluctant Bruce is compelled to don the mantle of the bat once more.
TDKR is undoubtedly epic. Stunning set pieces ramp up the CGI and the violent fight scenes, while crowd pleasing cameos and plot twists a plenty (even if most are telegraphed) ensure a heart-stopping ride. New leads include Nolan favourites Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard as heroic cop John Blake and savvy businesswoman Miranda Tate – the latter is particularly impressive.
Anne Hathaway’s ambiguous super-thief Selina Kyle/Catwoman has a tough act to follow in Michelle Pfieffer from Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, but is just about sassy enough, while Gordon-Levitt brings a relatable human touch to the film.
Gary Oldmans’ Commissioner Gordon and Michael Caine’s Alfred are both forced into muddy moral quandaries adding meat to the broth.
As the central villain, Tom Hardy’s Bane is disastrous. Ruined by dreadful vocals that sound like a camp Darth Vader, his scenes are almost unbearable, easily trounced by Ledger’s force of chaos.
Thankfully he has less screen time than you might imagine, with shadowy forces at play. Bale too has less to do here, but nails every scene, with the stakes raised to nuclear.
If there were any justice in the world, Bats would thoroughly trounce The Avengers, even with the Bane handicap. This is a superior movie in almost every way, but the bat lives in the shadows after all.