Movie: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Goodness me, seems like everyone needs an opinion on big films like this, so I might as well stick my oar in – in a spoiler-free way of course. As a background for my opinion, I never quite caught on with The Dark Knight as much as everyone else seemed to, and found its cultish following a bit wearing. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, but it often felt that I might as well be saying that if I wasn’t saying it was the best film of all time.

I was always a fan of the 90s Batman movies, moreso Batman Returns and – dare I say it – Batman Forever (I guess I dare). So I went into the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy braced for the worst, i.e. self-important and above all “dark” joyless style over substance that I wouldn’t even be allowed to criticise (as critics on Rotten Tomatoes found out already).

Fortunately I felt that this was the better of the three films, supported by several well-rounded and well-acted supporting characters. Christ, even Michael Caine did pretty well and I’ve never been entirely convinced he could do an accent if his life depended on it.

Particularly I loved Anne Hathaway as Selina “don’t say the C-word” Kyle, who suited the role brilliantly and made up for a lot of the slightly cold performances I’ve seen her in before. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has matured into a great actor and really fleshed out Blake’s strong-hearted hero character. I’ve never been quite convinced by Tom Hardy, but he made a great Bane. I wonder if that could have been anyone playing that role though, if they beefed up enough? Finally Marion Cotillard was magnetic as ever, and pulled off quite the WTF moment.

I’ve never much cared for Bale, particularly given the notorious events in his private life. Much like Bane, and even the comic-book Batmen, he could just as well have been anyone else. I mean Val Kilmer could play this role! My feelings for Bale weren’t changed, but he filled his role adequately as needed. Gary Oldman’s character of Commissioner Gordon was well-played but there wasn’t much room for a big performance I think.

As for the story, it JUST about justified its lengthy 165 minute runtime and had several gripping sequences that I won’t go into. Spoilers, and all that.. there’s certainly a big kick in the balls in the final act, and some perhaps less surprising revelations at the end. I also enjoyed the cameos. In fact I was worried that I didn’t remember The Dark Knight well enough, but it functioned well as a standalone feature.

I still can’t get over Bale’s ridiculous cookie-monster voice as Batman though, but fortunately it doesn’t come up much. I’m amazed they made Bane such an oppressive presence considering Tom Hardy’s not that big a guy. I was pleased to hear that he was surprisingly well-spoken and enunciated well, not another gravel-voiced goon to test my patience and hearing.

The set-pieces had plenty of impact, and there was a bit more of what I’d call traditional danger. I wasn’t engaged with The Dark Knight’s plot, particularly as a lot of it felt focused on the relationships between Bruce and Rachel. The Dark Knight Rises has a much bigger feel to it, and a real and present danger of total destruction hanging over the whole city that I feel works a lot better in these sort of movies.

All this considered, I felt it was a great send-off to a trilogy I hadn’t really got very attached to. I wonder what they will do with the franchise afterwards though, surely not another reboot? They have the facility to continue the story without rebooting it, but I wonder if a continuation of such an acclaimed series without Nolan leading it would be a poison chalice to anyone else. Because as the critics of this film know now, haters gonna hate…

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