Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review


If you even got past the caps without immediately grabbing your coat and cap and running right out the door in an instant to go and watch the next showing of The Dark Knight rises, preferably in IMAX where I saw it, then you are not only a damn fool, but also in for a slightly longer review.

Now I’m not going to be going into any plot points at all, in fact it may even be the surprise as to how dark, broken and perilous the plot went that was half the reason why I enjoyed this film so much. But it is an experience which I won’t rob for you here.

As you’ve probably gathered from the numerous trailers, it picks up The Dark Knight’s story 8 years on in a Gotham City where the death of the falsely glorified Harvey Dent/Two Face has brought about numerous social changes in the law and its enforcement in regards to cracking down on organized crime. Gotham is a safer place and because of this, as well as numerous other losses and tragedies experienced by Bruce Wayne in ‘The Dark Knight’, he has hung up his cape and suit, with both of his aliases having gone into 

The peace in Gotham city is abruptly ended however when an unknown terrorist only known as the masked man, or Bane to us in the know, turns up to once again try to bring Gotham to its knees, because even when Gotham is a city with an exceptionally low crime rate and lack of corruption, it is still considered the most evil and debauched place on the globe that must be destroyed as soon as possible.

Along with him an array of other characters from the comics appear, most predominantly Catwoman (played very solidly and faithfully by Anne Hathaway), all our regular staple favourites and a few more characters which I can’t mention lest I should be an asshole.

Basically here’s the rundown of why you should see this film. It is an epic, and I mean that in the purest form of the word, brilliantly directed, cinematic and genuinely dark ending to an already great franchise. I was sad while watching Batman, having watched so many other films with a budget its size, soaring at 200 million dollars, at just how disappointingly unoriginal, dull and pointless all these other films could be. I’m looking predominantly at Superman Returns and Transformers here. But in this film you will see sequences you have never seen before, plot threads which you have never seen before and honest to god some of the most jaw dropping visuals and cinematography that has ever been put on film. This is a genuinely eye opening and mind blowing experience when you realize just how great and stunning something can be if you give enough money to the right talent, and just after cancer or Aids research I can think of nothing better than to spend this amount of money on than placing resources into the hands of Christopher Nolan.

There are some problems of course as with all films. I’m not sure if it was just the cinema I was in but Bane at times was difficult to understand. He still has some of the greatest monologues I think I’ve ever seen in a film and they shine through, but his quieter moments are lost. The sound problems continue as the incredible Batman score plays insanely loudly in the background almost constantly during the film, which is cool but at times did drown out some dialogue and make some scenes fall flat as you strain to hear what’s being said. You won’t miss anything mind you, it just seems that this film will most of the time feel like the last 20 minutes of Inception, an incessant orchestra building tension and grandeur during the course of the entire film. Because of this grandness that is being built up through very long sequences, it means whenever there is a slow bit, and by that I mean a genuine lag here and there and not just an emotional scene as my concentration is far better than that. It’s noticeable when the film stops in its tracks whenever it gets into a block where it’s trying to get the story moving again and because of the juxtaposition between the grandeur and tension and then what is just a slight lag, it hits allot harder and more noticeably than I think it would have in the preceding two films.

Of course since everyone’s spent the last few years kissing The Dark Knight’s ass, here comes the inevitable comparison to it. On a directing level it is superior in every way to the previous films, with even the sketchy filming of close up hand to hand combat in the previous two films shot brilliantly in this latest feature. Both from a thematic and writing stance, this film is weaker than The Dark Knight and although it has a much stronger plot than the previous instalment since it loses that feeling I had with The Dark Knight that the Joker was being given a little bit too much leeway in how his story and actions were being carried out. The writing at times may come across as cheesy, mostly in the Bruce Wayne and Alfred scenes and although they are engaging and in no way even approaching bad, they certainly aren’t as strong as the last film. I think this comes down to a continuing problem in Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan’s inability to truly create a scene that strongly emotionally engages with a character. Their approach is very professional and executed very effectively, but I always find that their characters never truly lose their purpose of being used by the writers as a symbol or theme and at no point simply feel like human beings emoting naturistically.

But in the same way that The Dark Knight felt like a completely different film from Batman Begins from a stylistic standpoint, The Dark Knight Rises feels equally different again, having more familiarity with Inception than the previous instalment, as if Christopher Nolan has taken some tips from that production.
Where the film shines though is in the manner by which it seems to know that it’s a final film. It pulls out all the stops and I don’t mean this in a bad over the top way, but more in how it presents itself as a dark final stand for Gotham. You can watch any disaster or big budget action film about the end of the world, but never before have I seen the very nature of hopelessness, futility and a sensation that these characters that we have known now for under a decade are in their darkest hour and now barely hanging on for their lives as their fingertips scrape against the precipice while they hang on for dear life.

This is a dark, cinematic, epic and dignified bow out for The Dark Knight trilogy. Personally, I was blown away. It has problems, but in every other frame it pulls you in to the very end and I think everyone involved in it deserves the highest recognition for not only making a fantastic film, but also making me remember just how incredible cinema can be.

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