The Dark Knight Rises review and further ramblings. (spoilers ahead)

Before I jump into what I think about this film, I think I should first mention the shootings in America at the Colorado screening of the film. I think this is disgusting, that some sick twisted loser has the power to end the lives of so many people, who’s lives were worth a million times more than his own. American gun laws are so antiquated it would be laughable if the situation was not so grave. How many times does this have to happen before changes are made? My girlfriend and her mother were at the LA screening of the film, it could have just as easily been them and the thought terrifies me, I appreciate that may sound selfish, but it worries me when Taj visits her mother in a country that buying an gun is more easily done than buying alcohol. Hopefully now that america has a president with more braincells than fingers, which is a first in quite some time, some changes will be made. Anyway and on with the review.

I was pretty adamant to see the film in the new awesome cinema I saw spiderman in, so I had my friend Alex book tickets for us online, for me and some other friends. So we get to the cinema at 8.30 on friday night really excited for the film, we had just gone out to dinner and watched The Dark Knight at home as a refresher, even thought I really did not need it, I knew the film almost word for word. Alex however has a pretty bad memory, and brain in general (why I got him to book tickets for us, I do not know) and had completely forgotten that Harvey Dent died.

So we get to the cinema and show them our E-tickets, sit down in the comfy sofas and got ready. I was totally buzzing. 5 minutes later, there is a problem. Some people are trying to get into our seats, but we have them already booked, and we are already sitting in them, so good luck trying to get me to leave if you have double booked the seats.

Oh but wait, it turns out that Alex has booked the seats for the wrong cinema. I died inside when hearing this. My friends and I were escorted out by the manager who informed us that Alex had booked the tickets for a cinema in central london, rather than the one in Walton on Thames. How you fuck up on that level is quite beyond me. In the words of my friend Jack, ‘Now I know what cinema blue balls feels like’.

Needless too say what a shit night, I just went home with nothing to do as I had made plans to see the film. Luckily the manager agreed to rebook our tickets to the 4.30 performance the next day. So I went down again yesterday. And after all the effort and heartbreak of the last attempt I was really pumped to see the film. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

If you have not yet seen the film, stop reading now, I will be talking about the plot, and this is certainly a film that is better the less you know about it.

So 8 years after the events of the last film, Bruce Wayne is a recluse, crippled by his injuries as batman, and the city is at peace, with all organised crime wiped out, Batman taking the fall for Dents crimes and the blame for his murder. The Dent act being approved by congress, similar to the patriot act that basically means you have no human rights if you are suspected of any criminal activity and no right to appeal.

So organised crime is gone, and the Batman is remembered as the city’s most prolific murderer, who killed Gotham’s white knight. So batman has not shown his face at all and Bruce has shut himself away from the world, mourning Rachel Dawes as he still believed she would have waited for him. Bales performance as Bruce and his Alter Ego is better than ever. Bale is one of the best actors alive right now; the only other actor on his level right now is De Caprio. This is another Oscar Worthy performance from him. He should have won one for The Prestige and he should certainly win one for this.

Meanwhile, a new evil is rising underneath Gotham. Bane has arrived. A mysterious masked Mercenary who’s motives are not revealed until later in this epic. Now before I mention Bane I have to explain one thing first. The Dark Knight was a masterpiece. Calling it ‘The best Superhero film of all time’ is not accurate at all. Remove ‘superhero’ from that statement and you are probably right. It is one of the best films of all time, perfect in nearly every way. With arguably one of the best villains of all time. But what made it truly brilliant is that it was not a brilliant film about Batman, it was a brilliant film that happened to have Batman in it.

If this needs explaining to you, just imagine that in that film, it was not Batman, just another vigilante, fighting for the soul of the Gotham, with a crazed agent of chaos. Its easy to imagine. The only nit picks that people could come up with were that the film was too long, which showed that they had poor attention spans, and that they could not understand Batman speaking which showed that they just were not listing.

Batman’s voice in not only The Dark Knight and Batman begins has been very gravely, and a little laughable at times, has always been perfectly understandable. Bane however, is a completely different story. I really struggled to understand what he said. I think I got just over half of the lines that he came out with. I have no doubt that this is a film that I will watch over and over again and enjoy it more and more with each viewing, but one of the first things that I am going to do when I get this on Blu Ray, is watch it with the subtitles on.

There was a scene where Bane double crosses a member of Wayne Enterprises board, and said… something to the man, explaining his motives for doing so. The man said in reply ‘your pure evil’, but really what I would have said in his position was ‘I’m really sorry, I know you are big and scary and all, but can you repeat that please?’ Seriously he sounds like Sean Connery got shot in the throat and is trying to gargle cement at the same time as reading his lines.

I am not bashing Tom Hardy’s performance at all. Following Heath Ledger’s literally once in a lifetime performance as the Joker was going to be impossible. Luckily Bane was a very different type of enemy. He was Batman without the rules and limitations, of both mind and body. Batman is very reluctant to kill, anyone who said that he has a no killing rule, he has broken it, remember Two Face? Whereas Bane; is more than happy to get in the spirit of the murdering season. Bales batman is now tired and almost physically broken; Bane is more powerful and dangerous than he ever was. He is essentially a more powerful, intimidating and ruthless mirror image of Batman. I have watched nearly every one of Tom Hardy’s films, and knew he could get big, from Bronson, and knew he could fight from Warrior. But he is gigantic in this film, he looks terrifying. When batman first fights him I seriously felt pity for Batman. It is really a testament to batman’s bravery for even being in the same room as him, let alone trying to fight him.

Bane, like Batman, was trained by the League of Shadows, but was thrown out for some terrible act. So he is wise to most of batman’s tricks and techniques. He does not even flinch when batman throws a bomb at him, and when batman hits his EMP to take out the lights, Bane laughs at him and turns the darkness against batman, viciously beating him. In fact I was surprised just how vicious and brutal the fight was considering the films rating. Batman is fighting with all he has left and Bane is just absorbing everything and almost casually beating him down, by the end of the fight when batman is literally broken, Bane has not even broken a sweat.

Bane then throws Wayne into a ridiculous prison where you can essentially climb out if you really believe that you can. Needless to say Wayne has to build himself up again, and literally has his shattered spine punched back into shape. The scene essentially removes Batman from the film so Bane can burn Gotham to ashes and do what he wants with it for a few months so Batman can return to save the day.

And how have I got this far into the review without mentioning Catwoman, who is never actually called Catwoman in the entire film. Anne Hathaway is great in the role and looks incredible in tight leather bent over the batpod, but I really have to say that her overall arch is not that convincing. The fact that she (spoiler) gets with Bruce at the end is a little unbelievable. An hour into the film she betrays him to Bane leading to Batman being beaten almost to death and thrown into a hellhole for 3 months. Then they are seen together at the end of the film a happy couple. Yes, there is some, ‘you’re not going to get me to apologise’ dialogue, and I know you can forgive a lot for a tight leather cat suit, but it just could have done with a bit more explanation of her motives.

It was good to see Cillian Murphy again, this time the Scarecrows cameo was again, massively underused to the point where he did not even don on the mask. You could tell that this part was originally designed for the Joker. However it would be hard to imagine someone like the Joker acting as Banes lackey.

The Scale of the film was stunning, film producers are rarely brave enough to put that much money on the line anymore, they usually like to make it look like the scale of the film is massive, but they rarely make you truly believe their smoke and mirrors. Gotham under Banes vicious martial law is believable and terrifying.

If I was to really nit pic at the film, I would have to say that the final fight between Batman and Bane, just is not that great in comparison to the first, a few punches are thrown, while all of Gotham tears itself apart around them which makes an incredible spectacle and must have been a nightmare to film with hundreds of fights at once, but the action cuts away to Joseph Gordon-Levitt trying to let Quinn from Dexter let him cross a bridge. It was just unnecessary. The first fight, with no music with just the absolute viciousness and brutality of the fight with no other distractions, I believed was a far more effective battle.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was again, as he is in everything, very good. I loved the little Robin easter egg they put in at the end. It was a shame we probably will not get to see him in another batman film as I doubt Nolan will do another one for a long time, I know he has said he will never do another one, but he is an absolute cash cow, as is batman, you put the two together and any producer would happily throw millions at him to make another film.

And Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are basically playing themselves as they usually do; they play their characters are just as great as ever. Caine’s Alfred gets an outstanding scene with Bale, where he is almost begging Wayne not to throw his life away. Even around the entire mind blowing scale of the film, the short beautiful scene where Alfred tells Bruce about burning Rachel’s letter is brilliantly done, and really stands as one of the films emotional high points, and both actors give an Oscar worthy performances.

Marion Cotillard’s character has to be by far and away by biggest gripe with the film, yes, it was a real surprising twist with her stabbing batman revealing her true identity. It was a surprise because it was unbelievable and unnecessary. I mean, as Chef from South Park would put it, she literally made sweet love to Bruce Wayne by the fireplace earlier in the film. Bane should have been the child who escaped and Ra’s Al Ghul’s son as you were led to believe for most of the film. She just did not need to be there. I think Nolan just wanted to get as many actors from Inception in the film. She was not bad at all; she’s a fantastic actress which we knew from Inception and her being the only bearable thing about Public Enemy, and plays the role well, but I felt that she just did not need to be there. Upon repeat viewings I may change my mind on this one, but for now when I think back on the film her role until the last 15 minutes was a complete afterthought.

So overall did I enjoy the film? No. I loved it, it was over 2 hours 40 minutes of mind blowing spectacle on a scale rarely seen in film, but had a deep and meaningful emotional core that epics are not usually capable of; Hollywood usually shoots its whole load on the CGI and explosions, and forgets the story behind it all.

I believe that the film was an epic masterpiece that showed every other big budget film just how it’s done. Was it better than The Dark Knight? I would say it was a different film completely. See the batman movies have all had very different themes. With Batman Begins, it was Fear. With The Dark Knight, it was Chaos. With Rises, it was Pain. Through pain and suffering, Bane was borne, and he inflicts suffering upon Gotham. The only way for Wayne to beat him, is to suffer and be born again. As a film I would say it is one of the best films of all time, and the only gripes with it, are really not bad at all, that in other films you would not even notice them, it is only that the film is 99% perfect, that the final 1% of it that is just very good seems poor in comparison.

I would give it an a solid 10/10.


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