Written by Zen Terrelonge
(Rating: 12A, 164 mins) Starring – Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard.
The Dark Knight Rises has landed. It comes after more than one year of publicity and rumours, four years after The Dark Knight, and seven years after Batman Begins (the first in Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City reworking).
Sparing little time to explain anything to newbies, TDKR continues on immediately from TDK’s end, as police commissioner Jim Gordon (Oldman) pays tribute to Gotham DA-turned-villain, Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent at a memorial ceremony.
Dent’s demise was at his own hand, as the scarred lunatic went on a killing spree that backfired to result in his death.
However, Batman (Bale) took the fall for the murders, casting himself into hiding, as he and Gordon decided Dent’s shining image would restore hope to Gotham’s inhabitants, while keeping more than 1,000 criminals locked in prison under the DA’s actions.
As Jimbo steps down from the podium, the film speeds eight years into the future, and it’s here that masked antagonist Bane (Hardy) is introduced, teasing his plan to an unsuspecting cluster of federal agents – on a government plane.
Needless to say, said plan doesn’t involve a quick knee-trembler in the the loo.
It’s a nail-biting moment for a number of reasons:
How do you top The Joker’s twisted bank reveal in TDK? Didn’t you hear me? They’re on a plane!
Can you understand what the hell Bane is saying? While the North Caribbean-born metal machine’s voice isn’t as clear as the Queen’s English, he’s a lot easier to understand than Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes.
Has Hardy achieved the wrecking ball frame required to appease fans, and stay true to the comics? The man is an absolute unit on the screen, with the weight achieved through hard(y) work, and his 5’9 height boosted through special shoes and clever camera angles.
After an adrenaline-charged scene that demonstrates Bane’s leadership and cunning, the film moves to Wayne Manor. Gordon is carrying out his annual speech on the farcial ‘Harvey Dent Day’, while whispers among guests make it clear that Prince of Gotham, Bruce Wayne, hasn’t been seen in public for years.
It’s also here that Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Cotillard) and Selina ‘Don’t Call Her Catwoman’ Kyle (Hathaway) show their faces, before the raggedy-looking and bearded homeowner shows up.
At first the cane-sporting Bruce appears to be putting on an act for Kyle’s benefit, but it soon becomes apparent that the retired superhero’s skills have indeed become rather rusty.
Meanwhile, Bane has moved into town, and with Gordon out of action, his young protege and fellow cop, John Blake (Gordon-Levitt), heads up the hunt for the masked man, while the new threat lures the Bat from his cave.
Blake is an intriguing character, continuously described as a hothead, he’s clearly caring, but it seems there’s a wild streak behind his honourable exterior.
The plot has a brilliant timeline, because on the surface billionaire orphan playboy Bruce Wayne became a recluse overnight in the eyes of Gotham’s people.
But in actuality, the hero retired a shell of his former self, with no Batman to release his rage through, the love of his life murdered by The Joker, and his body damaged at the hands of Two Face.
Yet despite all of this, he makes a return, which is done with a hint of playful nostalgia, as the younger cops are oblivious who they’re up against, while the older boys in blue gear up for excitement.
Of course, the impromptu arrival gives viewers an incredible thrill as much as the older generation of Gotham’s finest, with the caped figure roaring through the unnatural shadows in pursuit of kidnappers.
But if it’s one person that isn’t happy about the return of Batman, it’s loyal butler Alfred (Caine), who gives a heartbreakingly solemn performance as he desperately tries to convince his master that his shenanigans can only end one way if he battles Bane.
Bale has never been better or more likable as the cowled vigilante. Both Bruce and the Bat show weaknesses for the first time, with a vulnerability that is endearing, truly making you root for them.
The addition of Darth Vader-esque Bane is great, giving Batman a fresh challenge, a physical one that pushes him to the depths of hell itself.
The accent and controlled tone of voice Hardy chose to adopt is fitting for Bane’s genius-level intellect, and a stark contrast from the absolutely angry and raw physique it’s stored in.
TDKR is the perfect way to end the franchise, bringing the films full circle like the toss of a batarang, with stellar acting from the A-List cast that drive scenes powerful enough to move some (don’t assume that means me) to tears.
The Dark Knight Rises is in cinemas now.