The Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan - Considering the anticipation and pressure involved with following up the box office and critical success of The Dark Knight, it is all the more impressive when, on leaving the cinema, I was buzzing with ebullient praise and post-Bat excitement. I was also vocally smug that my bladder had endured the 2hours 45 minutes; it being always preferable to avoid the indecisive and nagging distraction of contemplating whether or not it’s worth upsetting a whole row of audience members… to make that dash of defeatism, a surrender to the ticking tyranny of regrettable Fanta consumption, reeking its brimming revenge. So, calmly seated throughout, and thus maintaining an affable peace with fellow cinema goers (who, unconcerned, were rustling excessively large packets of sugared sustenance), I enjoyed the film in its ambitious entirety. The film takes it time establishing Batman’s gradual return to Gotham crime fighting, demonstrating Nolan’s sophisticated grasp of narrative. Thankfully devoid of a nervous need to please, the film avoids a premature explosion of action, instead building the expectation of an impending change of gear…and, when said gear change arrives, the second half of the film confidently delivers the necessary excitement. Where The Dark Knight had unsettling themes of disturbed identity (the unforgettable Joker and the violent anguish of TwoFace), The Dark Knight Rises deals on a more social level with notions of class upheaval and the identity of a ‘people’ as opposed to a ‘person’. Nolan apparently drew a lot of inspiration from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the film even quotes a relevantly poignant passage.
The new villain, a very ripped, hulking and generally gigantic Bane (played by Tom Hardy) takes power under the rallying promise to return Gotham to ‘the people’; dragging the decadent from their nests of excess and returning the city to the common man. Except that, as most revolutionary uprisings, Bane’s powerful appeal ‘to the people’ masks a, less ideologically concerned, fondness for casual slaughter, unrelenting violence and further oppression. As a new villain he is sufficiently divorced from anything too Joker-esque to render any misguided comparisons redundant. Bane is a beefy, bestial slab of uncompromising brute strength and although the sound of his voice has prompted much complaint and discussion, he is essentially a suitably evil counterpoint to Batman. Having said that, he did occasionally sound like a camp Sean Connery speaking through a cheap guitar pedal…still, there’s space for such eccentricities in this Batman legacy…I would not begrudge for this peculiar voice (apparently based on a bare knuckle fighting gypsy…naturally). Anne Hathaway, as Catwoman, looks appropriately seductive and lends a potentially ridiculous role the risk, image and allure it so clearly needs to prevent a travesty like Halle Berry’s S&M pantomime. Michael Cane is also used with sensitive intuition, which lends the film some much needed emotion and occasional humour. 8/10