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'The Dark Knight' Cometh

The Dark Knight Rises

Writer, director, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has taken itself very seriously and the The Dark Knight Rises, its epic conclusion, is the most serious of them all.  Nolan’s Batman trilogy separated itself from the slew of superhero flicks (re-boots included) by remaining true to the demands of the superhero world but maintaining a hearty helping of realism (well as realistic as a show about a guy who runs about in a bat costume and doesn’t end up in the loony bin can be).

In this grand, gritty conclusion, exploring terrorism, anarchy and (of course) selfless heroism, Nolan spins a tale that balances pathos and humour, drama and action. But, before you see The Dark Knight Rises it’s best if you are like me, with the memory of a gnat and therefore The Dark Knight is reduced to a vague memory with only the haunting menace of Heath Ledger/ The Joker’s deadly grimace in your mind.

Batman VS BaneWith the Joker, Bruce Wayne/Batman fought a villain darker than his own demons. In The Dark Knight Rises, there is a decent villain Bane, played by Tom Hardy, but Bruce Wayne is his own greatest opponent (although Bane admittedly hits a lot harder). Indeed, the absence of a truly fantastic villain is probably the show’s greatest limitation. But it appears to be very deliberate, as Nolan clearly wants to explore Bruce’s internal battles.

The bat is a creature of darkness and Nolan plays with this motif well exploring both the darkness that eats at society as well as that which gnaws at the soul of our hero, Bruce Wayne. The most intriguing thing about a hero is his fallibility, and Bruce is bruised and battered, tortured by his own demons and enveloped in a cocoon of loss. Yet, despite all its weighty soul-searching, the film is fun, filled with cool bat toys, a few good lines, great cinematography and some bone-crunching action.

The cast of The Dark Knight Rises is fantastic, with memorable performances from top to bottom, including some great ‘that guys’ such as that guy from Law and Order SVU (you know the one who used to be the CSI tech then guest starred as a villain) and that guy from Grimm (you know the uniformed Asian cop who’s in every episode).

Christian Bale continues to do great justice to his gravely voiced take of Batman, and delivers both in the suit and out of it. It seemed that Nolan, is in love with his cast from Inception (2010) has three of the members of that film - Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Marion Cotillard - are in The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy makes a decent, though not overly memorable villain. Anne Hathaway struts well as Selina/Cat Woman. Gordon Levitt who puts aside most of his boyish looks delivers well as the earnest, would-be-hero-cop Blake.

Joseph Gordon Levitt in The Dark Knight RisesOf course the main supporting cast, that triumvirate of great graybeards Gary Oldman (as Commissioner Jim Gordon), Morgan Freeman (as Fox) and Michael Caine (as Alfred) live up to their hallowed reputations. Caine, who finally gets a chance to air the depth of his emotion for Bruce Wayne, is particularly impressive and let’s face it, Freeman just has to show up be worthy of watching.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with Batman now vilified having taken the blame for Harvey Dent’s murder. Most importantly, he has isolated himself licking both his mental and physical wounds. Gotham appears to be at peace, but the city soon faces nuclear destruction when terrorists appear to tear it apart, and Batman must once more rise to save the city from the darkness within.

And rise he does.