Friday, 17 August 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Standing tall in the shadows...

It has been 7 years since the Joker caused havoc upon Gotham and Batman made the decision to become a fugitive for the greater good of the city. Since then, Gotham has undergone a massive overhaul in terms of battling crime, with the city experiencing a peace it had never before, and without the need for Batman, who has disappeared. Yet, all of this comes under threat when a man by the name Bane attempts to restructure Gotham into his own making.

Christopher Nolan has crafted something unique with his Batman trilogy. Instead of following in the footsteps of all those before him, Nolan attempted to take Batman out of the comics and into the real world, so to speak, in a way that made some sort of logical sense. It is a different kind of superhero movie and The Dark Knight Rises continues this trend. The time jump between the previous film and this one can be a little jarring at first. There is no real sign that things have changed in Gotham with the only information provided by various subtle conversations about the situation as it is. In some ways this can be problematic as it is difficult to truly gauge the context Nolan is attempting to create. But, it is this sort of understatement that encompasses the entire film. Things are not as they appear, and Nolan is not attempting to deceive the viewer of this: the fact that characters talk about Gotham but hint at problems ultimately serves as the perfect backdrop in which to force Bruce to take up the mantle of Batman once again. The rest of the story continues at a controlled pace but at times it can feel rushed. The motivations for some characters have to be understood and accepted almost on the spot and it can feel like such reasoning's are never given time to truly develop. Nevertheless, the story brings about what makes superhero movies so important: overcoming obstacles, and for Batman's 3rd attempt at character growth, it is a wonder to see the character become more then even he himself expected. As usual, some other characters are given some spotlight (and perhaps more so then the previous entries) such as the young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). The story can feel rushed towards the end. The final 30 to 45 minutes cover a really long time period within the story and the sequence of scenes  Lastly, even though the film is a direct sequel to The Dark Knight it is important to note that thematic elements from the first still exist in order to build character development.

Supporting the well crafted, albeit slightly rushed, narrative is a top line of acting performances. The usual suspects (Caine, Freeman, Oldman) get the nods they so deserve for their respective characters but the new cast are thankfully just as good. Anne Hathaway as the mysterious Selina Kyle portrays the character with zealous and appears to have a good grasp on facial cues to truly sink in the reality of her character and the world around her. Next is Joseph Gordon-Levitt who, in comparison, brings a more reserved performance to the inquisitive cop Blake. But a nod must be given to Tom Hardy as the formidable Bane. Bane feels  powerful whenever on the screen and his voice is enough parts dominant and sophisticated to emphasis Bane as more then just some brute (as evident in pre-Nolan Batman). There is a good cast here, and they make their characters work. Finally, credit must be given to Bale who embraces the role of Bruce and Wayne and Batman head on. There is a subtle vigour to his performance which really strikes home his characters' anguishes and attempts to overcome the obstacles in their lives.

The most evident of the camera work this time around is that Gotham is not as much of a centre piece as it was before. In previous films, it was possible to see Gotham as a character in its own, especially since villains emphasised a need to test the limits which the city itself possessed. In The Dark Knight Rises, the test that occurs is not as apparent at first but the theme of a united Gotham continues. The film is also very much about the human characters and the camera supports this. That said, there are some great scenes throughout the film but the truly unforgettable scenes are more sparse than previous scenes in the trilogy. On a stronger note, the musical score is expectantly mesmerising.

As expected of the series, the film has a slightly darker feel than other superhero films but never to the point of pushing the envelope in terms of appropriate content. Violence is a standard affair though the kill count is higher then before. Language is almost non-existent and the same can be said about sexual elements.

Nolan's trilogy has finally come to its end after 7 long years, and there is no doubt that the wait for the finale was worth it. Like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before, The Dark Knight Rises is virtually a top tier contender in every way. There is little to fault in a film that combines the fun of a superhero flick with the thoughtfulness of a human drama. If you believed in Christopher Nolan before, prepare to have your faith rewarded.