Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - A Review

Within the last decade and perhaps even longer, there hasn't been a build up quite as massive as the one surrounding Christopher Nolan's final entry in the Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan and Christian Bale's vow not to return to the series marked the end of an already remarkable set of films and so the ensuing fan speculation, conversation and ultimately expectation that followed was hardly to be unexpected.

So how exactly do you begin to follow what has justifiably been proclaimed the greatest superhero film of them all? In 2008 Nolan's The Dark Knight surpassed anything the genre had to offer before or since, breaking more boundries than thought possible on the way to crafting a film which ensured Batman not only destroyed competing comic book franchises such as Superman, Spiderman, The Avengers and more but also bettered almost any film released this century. I struggle to think of another film seen in the past 12 years that created such an effect upon critics, fans and the film world in general, possibly with the exception of another Nolan creation, 2010's Inception.

And so it looked an impossible task for the third installment of this franchise to be delivered successfully, let alone to dream of being worthy of comparison to an already established movie classic. After all, who can name a trilogy of three truly great films?
Well for a start if the job were to be entrusted into the hands of any director in modern day cinema, it needed to be the man who set the barrier himself, armed with the exceptional cast of established acting talent that been there before; enter Bale, Freeman, Caine, Oldman, alongside new additions Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Anne Hathaway. With a familiar set up such as this in place maybe, just maybe it was possible to produce a film which justified the incredible atomsphere surrounding it for the past 4 years, so I am delighted to announce that The Dark Knight Rises delivers on every conceivable level possible.

Rises begins by taking us 8 years on from the death of Harvey Dent and the disappearance of Batman and Bruce Wayne, who has become a recluse, hiding from society in Wayne Manor and refusing to fight crime in Gotham. This isn't a problem for the notoriously chaotic city however, as it seems Gotham is a quiet place these days; organised crime has all but been defeated and the city jail is full of to the brim of the criminals who once terrorized its streets. Dent has been hailed as a hero and Batman held up as the escaped villianous murderer presumed gone forever.
Gotham's newfound peace doesn't last very long however as the arrival of super-strength mastermind Bane threatens to destroy Gotham forever. Through his use of a doomsday device retrieved within the city, Bane plans to blow Gotham into the ground and forces the return of Batman, who doesn't seem to possess his invincible nature of past times.

There are several reasons why The Dark Knight Rises is everything we could possibly have expected from it and one of the most obvious is the excellent individual performances we see in faces new and old; Bale, in my opinion the greatest Batman we've seen on screen, is reliably brilliant as Wayne who is struggling not only in mind but also with body this time around in order to defeat evil and save Gotham once again. Hardy perfectly embodies the most menacing and fearsome villian we've seen Batman face throughout the trilogy, and through his aggressive performance viewers will truly believe that anything and everything is possible regarding the fate of Gotham and its protectors. Adding to the already impressive cast, newcomers Joseph Gordon Levitt and Anne Hathaway more than keep up with their roles as upcoming police detective turned rogue hero John Blake and the dangerously sexy Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman, respectivley.

But while the lead performances of Dark Knight Rises are to be highly praised, the real brilliance in this film is Nolan's masterful direction. By building and building the audience for the first 2 hours of the film, viewers may be tricked into believing that the explosive energy which pulsated throughout the first two films are missing; however this is proven to be Nolan's very deliberate plan as the payoff we recieve in the final act ranks alongside the most satisfying action and emotive climaxes you will have seen in modern film. The pace at which which Dark Knight Rises leads the viewer is the most exceptional technique Nolan employs, perfectly executing an attack on the senses that will leave any fan stunned come the end of the 164 mins running time. An incredible experience that is even greater than it had any right to be, The Dark Knight Rises is a film which must be seen to believed.

Ultimately, the meaning of Nolan's Batman trilogy goes far in cinematic terms as a result of its stunning conclusion. Nolan has acheived something unprecedented and extraordinary in his adaption of Batman that will only come to light in time, but the fact remains that no one could have predicted a cinematic acheivment quite so great as this when we first encountered Bale in a Batsuit 7 years ago. So while undoubtedly the series will be seen for quite some time as the greatest superhero film franchise, how about the in terms of cinema as a whole?

I mean after all, who can name a trilogy of truly great films?