I hated Batman Begins. The best bits of it were ripped off from Highlander and the rest of it was plain dull, aside from the unintentional comedy double act of a disgruntled train driving Irish ninja as the villain and Christian Bale playing Batman as a dazed and rubberised Tom Waits. The Dark Knight was better. It had some beautiful photography and a couple of thrilling action sequences, although it was rather obvious at times that Christopher Nolan wanted to be making a James Bond film; see also the snowy bit in Inception. The writing was all over the place — the Joker’s an agent of chaos and yet the entire film is his two-and-a-half hour Heath Robinson scheme; really, Nolan? Really? — and Bale was still rubbish. So I wasn’t looking forward to the new film, then they announced Anne “Dead Eyes” Hathaway as Definitely Not Catwoman Because Catwoman Is Silly and my interest withered away. Then they released pictures of Anne “Dead Eyes” Hathaway as Not-Catwoman, and my interest went away to put its head in an oven. I had resigned myself to disappointment and to waiting for the inevitable reboot and a hope that some director out there would want to make a movie about the swashbuckling sci-fi closet Batman rather than the grim and gritty one, but then my mate Bob came along. Bob loves Nolan’s films, has been excited for The Dark Knight Rises since the moment the credits rolled at the end of The Dark Knight, and convinced me to go and see it with him at the Imax in London. This involved a thirteen quid train ticket, a fifteen quid cinema ticket, plus lunch in a capital city getting ready to gouge Olympic tourists for every penny they’ve got. In other words, the film had a lot to live up to, no matter how excited Bob was. It turns out that The Dark Knight Rises is quite good. It’s nowhere near the best Batman film, but it’s the best of Nolan’s Batman films by a long shot. Let’s call it DKR for short, not so much for ease but because it evokes another Batman story; the trailers make the No Man’s Land influence clear, but the truth is that the film draws more from The Dark Knight Returns — including at least one sequence lifted straight from its pages — and there are few sources better than that. It’s not a direct adaptation — Superman isn’t in it (SPOILER) — but one could describe it as Ultimate Dark Knight Returns and not be too far off. The writing is tighter this time around; the Nolan brothers and David Goyer resist the urge to fill the plot with elaborate curlicues of nonsense and the film benefits from the more direct approach. It’s also a funny script in places, which given the oppressive dourness of the earlier films is quite the surprise; there are actual jokes and everything! Of the cast, Tom Hardy stands out as an excellent Bane; his weird lilting growl is charming in an odd way, and he is quite convincing as a charismatic leader able to bend an army to his will. That said, I may be biased as my crush on Hardy is well-documented. The Kid From 3rd Rock from the Sun is also very good, which is handy as at times it seems as if he’s the only actor who turned up on set, so enamoured is Nolan with him. Marion Cotillard doesn’t get as much screen time as The Kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, but she’s also very good as Bruce Wayne’s friend and business partner, and the only woman in Gotham who’s not a jewel thief. Gary Oldman is as strong as ever but Michael Caine is lumbered with Nolan’s reliance on Michael-Caine-says-something-profound-then-turns-away-almost-in-tears as a way of making a dramatic point. If I had been allowed to take vodka into the cinema, I could have invented a drinking game around how often Caine went all damp-eyed, and I would have been hammered by the forty minute mark. I could also have expanded the game to include every time Bale does that weird sticky-out tongue thing — ONCE YOU SEE IT IT CANNOT BE UNSEEN — or when he was rubbish as Batman, because yes, he’s still rubbish as Batman. “Dead Eyes” is — as predicted — as bland and soulless as ever and her character could be cut from the film without affecting a thing. I’m not even exaggerating; Not-Catwoman makes one relevant contribution to events, and that’s only because Batman is sitting on the floor doing nothing for no good reason. If it seems like I hated the film then I’ve given the wrong impression, because I liked it despite my misgivings going in and the almost fifty pounds I spent getting to my seat. The problem is that most of the things I liked about it would involve spoilers; even saying that I appreciated the Dark Knight Returns influence could be seen as giving too much away, and I can’t even discuss that wonderful, brave ending. Come back in six months, and we can talk; for now, go and see this film, because while it’s not as good as the 1966 or 1989 movies, it is ace. Oh, and Bob liked it too. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.