The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

“Ah! I was wondering what would break first: your spirit, or your body!”

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway

Perhaps an even more anticipated film than The Dark Knight, the concluding film in Nolan’s trilogy of the Batman franchise has been a long awaited feat.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place 8 years after its prequel and in this time, a lot has changed. Gotham is steadily improving with a noticeably reduced amount of organised crime, the police are finally taking more control over the streets, Bruce Wayne has become somewhat of a recluse and in an attempt to reign in the craziness spawned from having a masked vigilante roam the streets, Batman is now just a distant memory.

Though things are far from perfect, it looks as though Gotham is getting back to becoming a more civilised society. Unfortunately for the people of Gotham, a new villain emerges with plans to wreak havoc on their city. Luckily for us, Bruce is forced to put on the Batsuit one more time to save his city against the merciless Bane.

There’s a lot going on in this film and a lot of different threads to follow. That’s why I really feel it needs more than one viewing. Just like the previous films in the franchise, The Dark Knight Rises is an epic movie that doesn’t disappoint in terms of raising the stakes compared to its predecessors and just goes to reaffirm Nolan as one of the greatest directors of our time. There is a mass of greatness within these 2 and a half hours and only one – I would say – unfortunate issue.

Starting off with the good bits – which there are far too many to discuss in real detail – we must first talk about Anne Hathaway, just because she’s the first real, empowering female in the franchise. I didn’t really know what to think when I heard about Hathaway playing Selina Kyle/Cat Woman. I will admit I was a bit put off by the fact we were getting another female cast member because I didn’t want it to turn out to be cheesy, overacted or something akin to Rachel Dawes again (played by both Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal). To my surprise though, she was awesome. Being female, Hathaway brings about a refreshing look at the film’s characters. It’s such a change of pace from all of these macho men that have been parading around flaunting their muscles in the last 2 films. She totally lives up to other baddies which have up to post, been male, and Nolan doesn’t use her gender to make her seem vulnerable or weak in the eyes of the audience. She’s a great addition to the cast and having some female ‘superpower’ injected into the franchise was very welcomed.

We have a great newcomer in Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, a young police officer. I’ve always like this guy and his meek frame means his character here, which could be argued as being some form of his typecast, works well within his role as the humble officer just trying to do good by his city. Tom Hardy was completely bad ass as Bane. He always manages to get really involved with his roles and is one of the great method actors of today. For this role he was asked to gain 30lbs of muscle and as is evident, he did that without hesitation. He really does well as Bane and rivals past villains such as The Joker. Christian Bale, obviously, does Bruce Wayne and Batman the justice in which he has in the past films. I think comments regarding his acting as Bruce and Batman are now just a given. However this time round there were a lot more ‘he’s in trouble now’ moments – thanks to his time-off as Batman – and this aspect added so much more uncertainty and anticipation in regards to Batman’s identity remaining a secret, which was really great.

Along with the key players, the cast was brimming with other great actors, some which were returning from previous films. From Marion Cotillard to Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight Rises has a stellar selection of actors. What makes the cast so solid is that over the course of the trilogy, the franchise has refrained from falling into the Hollywood pit-trap of casting people for their genetically good looks/ heart throb status. Instead what we have here is a collection of great actors, just meaning the quality of each film has remained on par and at a high level (and they aren’t too bad on the eyes either).

The only issue I have with the film, and one which I feel some others may have too, is Bane’s voice. The Dark Knight Rises first started releasing its teaser trailers in 2011, and aside from all of the crazy excitement surrounding the last film in the trilogy, there was just one complaint that couldn’t be overlooked – the inability to understand Bane’s dialogue.

Between then and the release of the movie this year, Tom Hardy re-recorded every line and while the difference is noticeable, I still had to strain my ears in a few scenes not fully understanding what was being said. Along with this, the new voiceovers also make Bane sound a bit too cartoon-y to fit in line with Nolan’s darker vision for Batman. But this was the only issue I really had. While it took a while to get used to his voice, and after overcoming the unfortunate repercussion of changing the pitch levels (or perhaps a different aspect of his voice?), I was quite content with Bane being one scary-ass villain!

The Dark Knight Rises is just one example of how to round off a trilogy, the right way. In some ways it seems to wink at the audience and tease with some sort of spin-off, though after Christopher Nolan saying this was his final film for the franchise, I’m praying that no one will come along and ruin this man’s work. Completely in line with its previous films in terms of casting, CGI, script, cinematography, score and numerous story threads, The Dark Knight Rises is a must-watch and so far, without doubt, the film of 2012.

Rating: 9/10

Directed by Christopher Nolan.

Running time 164 minutes.

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