I recently went to see the new Batman film, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ after devoting two evenings to watching its predecessors; ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’. Needless to say, judging from the quality of the previous two films, I was extremely looking forward to watching the final instalment of this highly entertaining, and beautifully written trilogy.
I sat in the cinema, and felt the rustle of excitement as the opening screens played forward and the lights dimmed, however by the time the end credits had rolled and the cinema was light again, I didn’t feel the rush of adrenaline and wonder that I had felt after the end credits had rolled for Nolan’s previous Batman films. I would like to point out now, that this film is by no means a flop, I found the acting by the cast was stellar and it was thoroughly entertaining, not to mention my pleasure at seeing so much British talent in one film. But, for me it lacked what I usually attribute to Nolan’s films; the ability to make the highly unlikely a worrying possibility.
What I liked about Nolan’s Batman was he was realistic; he wasn’t bit by a nonexistent spider, or genetically engineered in some post-war science experiment. He was trained by a secret organisation, which is a little farfetched but at least plausible in some respects. What’s more, Bruce Wayne has the ability to be Batman, and Nolan doesn’t shy away from the fact that, you can’t just wake up one day and be a superhero, you need resources. In short, you need to be a billionaire, which Bruce Wayne is. This time round however, we see the fall of our hero, he is crippled, he is bankrupt and he is lonely. Who wants to spend three hours, watching a lonely, poor crippled man, after watching the rich, powerful, fearless superhero of films past? I know it’s a message that ‘all good things come to an end’, but still, we want action, excitement and a bit of envy that he can live out his dream, whilst we sit here wasting our money on popcorn.
On another note, we are introduced to the new villain ‘Bane’, who is played extremely well by Tom Hardy. What I enjoyed about Bane was his eloquence, eloquence which was released to Gotham City through a mask which mirrored that of a dog’s mussel and helped to reinforce the idea of Bane as a wolf like creature. It was like seeing Scar, if he was human, a desperately evil person with no understanding of pain and a target of only destruction and death. I enjoyed Bane as a villain, but not as much as Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker’. Although Bane was articulate, which served to make his speeches ever more terrifying, it was the Joker’s plausibility which made him so creepy; his dishevelled appearance and face paint, the scars, the idea that he festered and grew in Gotham, like mould in a forgotten fridge. Whilst Bane, controlled those around him through explosions, and the threat of a bomb, the Joker gained control through manipulation of those weakest in society, through clever schemes and infiltration of society’s highest orders. It was this indifference to humanity that augmented the Joker’s psychosis, the line “some men just want to watch the world burn”, summed up entirely what drove the Joker to murder and maim those around him, plus the idea that he placed himself outside of what society valued most-money- coupled with Ledger’s brilliant performance, made the character even more terrifying and chilling.
The villain in this film is less substantial. We never really see him without his mask, so you never see the injuries which have served to make him a legend, which also make him less relatable. What’s more we never know his back story, how he came to Gotham, how he was in prison and in the end, we see him cry, which, whilst perhaps giving his character depth, completely breaks the illusion of him being a cold and callous master criminal with little care for anyone or anything.
You are probably wondering why I have devoted almost 3/4 of this review to the villain and not to the lead, and this is because we rarely see the lead. He pops up now and then to have a fight, be angry, and be ultimately destroyed and then placed in a prison by Bane from which there is ‘no escape’ , where he builds himself up to go back for his final fight for Gotham. It was all very predictable, with a predictable twist in the end and the film spends most of its time focusing on Bane, Wayne Enterprises and the Police officers.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the film, there was some brilliant performances from all of the cast, and some hugely emotional scenes. There was lots of heart-stopping action and brilliant dialogue. However, I felt as the final instalment to what has been largely, a brilliant trilogy it was lacking that emotional element which is supposed to drive home to the audience that this is the end. There was not enough of a relationship built up between the antagonist and the protagonist for the rise of the Dark Knight to be seen as the final showdown between good and evil. The loose ends were tied up, but in a half hearted way, and there was no big tragedy that befell any of the main roles, or that let you feel like it was done, over, finished caput. It was a well made movie, that was not awarded the huge confrontation or destruction that is awarded a final instalment, instead it was awarded mystery, with the film feeling as though it was setting itself up for new plot lines and new stories to appear.
All in all, I was blown away by the ultimate production level and the cast of the film, but not by the plotline itself, which I felt lacked depth, intricacy and realism.