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Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

"You don't owe these people anymore. You've given them everything."
  1. "Not everything. Not yet."
It's the end of an era, the end of a trilogy that has single-handedly reinvented the comic book film genre... forever. Before Nolan directed 'Batman Begins', comic book fans were subjected to watching a CGI-laden superhero film, full of campy costumes and unbearably cheesy one liners. The purpose of them wasn't so much to entertain audiences, but rather just to sell them tickets to a mediocre film and attempt to manipulate them into buying merchandise for said film.

Enter legendary director Christopher Nolan. He reinvents not only the Batman franchise, but breathes life into the cringey world of comic book movies. ‘Batman Begins’ was like no other superhero movie we had seen before. The acting was sensational, the cinematography stylish, the dialogue clever, and even the plot was fresh, managing to feed into real-world concerns such as chemical warfare and the effects poverty can have on cities as a whole. The idea of a masked crusader now doesn't seem as absurd as it once did. 

'The Dark Knight' starts off eight years after the events of the previous film of the trilogy. Harvey Dent's death has had a significant impact on Gotham. Practically all organised crime has been eradicated in the city and the citizens no longer want or need Batman. Because of this fact, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) lets himself go, both physically and mentally. He becomes a recluse and doesn't come out of hiding until force to be reckoned with Bane (Tom Hardy) explodes onto the scene... literally. Ruthless, intelligent and unbelievably strong, Bane proves to be Batman's most difficult challenge to date, his sole aim? To burn the city of Gotham to ashes, and to make Batman watch him do so, helpless, broken and alone.

Performance wise, the entire cast were fantastic. Bale pushed himself to the limits, and gave his best performance of the entire trilogy in the film as a result. The frailty of Bruce Wayne, in both mind and body, at the beginning of the film comes across immediately. It adds to the almost unbearable tension that audiences expect to feel during Batman films due to the fact that we are aware that there is a very real chance that our hero could die at the end of the film, keeping in mind that he is currently outmatched in just about every sense of the word. 

I believe that Hardy deserves praise for accepting the role of the villain, seen as anyone who has seen 'The Dark Knight' will undoubtedly be comparing his role to that of Heath Leger's Joker, which, quite frankly, is such an iconic performance that it is near enough impossible to compete with. Considering that two thirds of the actor's face was covered, and he had only his eyes, body language and line delivery to express his emotions, I think that Hardy did a great job. The way that Hardy uses his eyes to express emotion in Bane's final scene was almost enough to cause the audience to feel sympathetic towards the chaotic madman. In the other scenes however, his presence on screen is just electrifying. The dehumanised nature of his face and voice along with his powerful body language just demands the viewer's attention and fearful respect. 

I think it is safe to say that Anne Hathaway defied skeptics everywhere with her performance as Selina Kyle, who is better known as alter-ego Catwoman, although she is never given that name in the film. She took a role that has been poorly written and badly acted in the past and injected life back into the character. The way the Nolan's developed the character as the film progressed was fascinating to watch. She's self-preserving, witty, charming, manipulative... and it's fun attempting to decipher whether she's supposed to be an anti-hero, a villain, or somewhere in between. It's refreshing to see such a strong, female character onscreen. She shamelessly uses her sexuality to get what she wants, but also uses sheer strength to battle her opponents and protect those who she feels need protected. It's a very intriguing character and I feel as though Hathaway did it justice. 

Michael Caine got some great scenes with Christian Bale, with one emotional scene in particular just begging for the Academy's attention. Caine was a joy to watch and was probably the biggest scene-stealer out of the entire cast. If he doesn't get nominated for a best supporting actor award, I genuinely think that there will be an uproar.

Christopher Nolan reminded everyone why he is considered to be one of the best director's of our generation with the sheer scale of this production. It was unbelievable how ambitious 'The Dark Knight Rises' was, both in a visual sense and the ideas and topics that it attempted to tackle. Some of the things that the world fears most: nuclear weapons, economic collapse, terrorist attacks... these are all topics that the Nolan brothers decided that they wanted to tackle in the script. There are nods to the occupy wall street movement, with Selina Kyle's memorable speech to Bruce Wayne ("You think this can last. There's a storm coming Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, cause when it hits, you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.") and the chaotic riot montage later on in the film unequivocally pointing out the very real problem of the social inequality that exists in every major city, all over the world. Nolan takes these complex political ideas, and manages to slot them in between action-packed and emotionally charged scenes that are scattered through the film's two hour and forty minutes run-time. With all this going on, Nolan would be forgiven for forgetting to create an iconic style to compliment the film's substance, but he even manages to do that. Although developing characters using little more than a series of visual shots is something that the director has proven himself an expert on, the first hour or so lacks a certain 'wow' factor. It's still a fantastic opening, but nothing compared to the visually breathtaking final hour and forty minutes of the film. I lost count the amount of times that I got goosebumps whilst watching the remainder of the film. When put together, Nolan's vision and Pfister's cinematography made for some truly iconic shots. The football stadium explosion and Batman's first fight with Bane only two of the many highlights awaiting movie-goers.

Although scores and soundtracks are rarely seen as essential to the success of a film, I have to admit, 'The Dark Knight Rises' would simply not be as good if it wasn't for Hans Zimmer's flawless score. The emotion that it added to the film was crucial, whether it was building tension during action sequences, adding emotion to tear-jerking performances or creating an unsettling sense of menace and insecurity during the very few scenes that don't feature any score. In fact, Zimmer's score had such a noticeable presence in the film, that it felt as though it was a character in itself.

Before the film was even in production, many critics thought that Nolan had given us fans everything that he could possibly give us, everything that we could possibly want. Making this film was his way of saying "Not everything. Not yet."

'The Dark Knight Rises' is Nolan's definition of "everything". Action, emotion, intriguing characters, breathtaking visuals... if there's only one blockbuster that you go to see this Summer, please, make it this one.


  1. Nice review, Lauren. Agree with you about Chris Bale, Hathaway and Zimmer's music. Chris Nolan has outdone himself with the Bat trilogy.

    Check out my review .


  2. Nice review Lauren. This is probably one of the most epic films I’ve seen in a long, long time and with good reason, because Nolan has created such a great set of stories, that you honestly couldn’t have ended it any better. Perfect way to say bye-bye to Batty.

  3. Thanks Dan! Definitely agree with you there, I bow down to Nolan for making yet another fantastic film.