The Dark Knight Rises has finally arrived, the final instalment in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. It’s been four years since the Batman last graced our screens in The Dark Knight. There’s no doubting that is a hard act to follow up.
The film opens several years after the conclusion of The Dark Knight. Gotham is a changed place - Harvey Dent’s death has not been in vain as he is now held up as a beacon of hope, strength and righteousness, there are few that know the depth of that lie. Bruce Wayne is a recluse, taking with him the Batman. He mourns the death of Rachael, closeted and hidden within the walls of Wayne Manor. Gotham is unrecognisable, a changed place, a haven.
But nothing can be perfect for long, and waiting in the wings to disrupt the peace is a villain almost as deranged at The Joker – Bane. Tom Hardy’s Bane is hulking, threatening, sinister, albeit at times almost unintelligible (for his review in the Sydney Morning Herald Paul Byrnes describes it like Darth Vader talking through the face hugger in Alien. To this I would add, if Darth Vader were played by Sean Connery).
A pupil of Ras Al Ghoul and a member of the League of Shadows, Bane seems intent to complete Ras Al Ghoul’s plan - to cleanse Gotham of its decadence to return life back to its natural centre. It seems that Nolan has taken inspiration for the plot directly from the headlines – there’s a hint of the occupy movement in a post-apocalyptic 9/11 New York in a time of financial crisis.
At two hours and forty five minutes the film does run a bit long. However, in saying that, Nolan paces the film well, with the film rolling toward what seems to be inevitable cataclysm. There’s no doubt that Nolan knows how to choreograph a film, playing to his strengths with intelligent editing and moody cinematography.
Performances are strong, with the exception, perhaps of Marion Cotillard, who disappoints as Miranda Tait, a socialite with conscious who appears to be a suitable new love interest for Bruce Wayne. The big surprise, and I must admit to being initially sceptical about the casting, is Anne Hathaway’s vixen-like Catwoman who convincingly walks the edge between good and evil, all while wearing leather and six inch heels down a subway tunnel.
This film, however, is made better by its predecessors. It lacks the psychological insight into the protagonist and motivation of the villains, it also feels more unashamedly comic book. On its own, on the whole, I would say, that this is the weakest instalment of the trilogy. It brings together threads from the previous films, but unfortunately provides no finality.