The Dark Knight Rises. Film Review.

Originally published on L.S. Media. 23rd July 2012.

L.S. Media Rating ****

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, Josh Pence, Liam Neeson, Nestor Carbonell, Alon Abutbul, Juno Temple, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Tom Conti, Burn Gorman.

The arc is complete, the third and (supposed) final Batman film starring Christian Bale as The Dark Knight gets underneath the skin of the man and the protector of Gotham City and leaves in its wake all other versions of Bob Kane’s greatest creation.

Not only does The Dark Knight Rises put to shame the last two dreadful films from the 80’s and 90’s franchise but also does a pretty good job of overshadowing the only one that stood in its way, the 1989 Michael Keaton/Jack Nicholas blockbuster.  It also manages along the way to take a cunning sideswipe at Marvel’s superhero world with a throwaway line about alligators in the Gotham sewers.

The Dark Knight Rises brings Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman back into old familiar characters, as comfortable and enjoyable to watch on screen as listening to your favourite piece of music and eating your favourite meal. However there is something about two of the relationships that brings the sharp focus of the quality of British acting in the early 21st century. The father/son/protector triangle of Caine/Bale and Oldman is proof if ever any were ever really needed that the British representation as the good guys, the heroes in Hollywood, in the past were woeful. It’s taken the likes of the ever superb Gary Oldman and Sir Michael Caine to become the grandfathers as it were of the acting profession before British actors could be given the roles they deserve.

The only other uncomfortable fact of the film is the heart wrenching moment when the audience realises that Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s confident and butler is capable of shedding real tears. For anyone who grew up on films such as Zulu, Get Carter or even heaven forbid Escape To Victory, to see this doyen of the acting fraternity crying at the graveyard is a powerful and unimaginable sight. It just doesn’t happen and the effect on a cinema’s audience is unique and slightly off kilter with a world’s perception.

The sublime thing about this film, and in particular the three films in the story arc are the great criminals they have used to counter balance Batman’s/The Dark Knight’s psychological scaring, his mental anguish he has been carrying. Compare the late Heath Ledger’s role in the films, add the ever excellent Liam Neeson Ra’s al Ghul, Marion Cotillard, Aaron Eckhart and Cillian Murphy in their particular characters against the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey and Danny DeVito in the previous set of half-baked films and you see where by having Christopher Nolan in charge has made all the difference to the production and the audiences loving grasp on Batman.

Perhaps the only disappointment in the film was the character of Catwoman, portrayed by Anne Hathaway. It seemed written to type that the bad girl/ the jewel thief would end up on a different side by the end. This is not to take away from Anne Hathaway’s performance but in parts it didn’t seem a real premise that someone with the very obvious intelligence and charm that Miss Hathaway possesses would be taken seriously as Selina Kyle. It’s comparable to seeing Julia Roberts as the street walker in Pretty Woman. Something like seeing Michael Caine cry are against nature.

Cinema audiences bid farewell to Batman/The Dark Knight perhaps for another 20 years. In the meantime what have the D.C. stable got to compete with the likes of Marvel’s Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers films that will be coming out at some point. Perhaps not a lot!

Ian D. Hall