The Dark Knight Rises.


As far as summer blockbusters go they don’t really come much bigger than this, the third film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of the Gotham city caped crusader, Batman. Nolan has managed to assemble a high calibre cast including Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Joseph Gordon Levitt although no star is bigger than the film which houses it. Tension was only increased by the incoming news, as I left for the cinema, informing me  some crazed gunman at a Denver, Colorado screening had unleashed a canister of smoke and then proceeded to shoot random innocent viewers, slaughtering twelve and injuring others in the process. This aside, enjoyment of the film could not have been greater and its two hour and forty five minute duration never felt like a second too long, so absorbing are the proceedings on the screen.

Opening eight years after its predecessor –The Dark Knight- ended Gotham City is a different city with organised crime apparently under control whilst Bruce Wayne is a Howard Hughes-like recluse and Batman a disgraced figure scorned by the authorities and public alike for the slaying of wrongly appointed local hero, the corrupt Harvey Dent. Only Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) is aware of not only Batman’s innocence but also his identity. A further believer is a young detective John Blake (Gordon Levitt) who not only believes in Batman’s innocence but also tries to persuade Wayne to continue with the job he started whilst clearing his name in the process.

The first stirrings in Wayne’s doppelganger occur after an encounter with cat burglar Selina Kyle-a slinky Hathaway- who although never actually addressed as or referred to as Catwoman  is very clearly that  character. These stirrings are replaced by a full-on  resurrection of his bat-like alter-ego with the arrival of relentless terrorist Bane- an unrecognisable Tom Hardy buffed up and bulked out to look and sound like an evil reincarnation of Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz and Darth Vader- who sets out on a rampage of carnage and destruction holding the city to ransom under the threat of an atom bomb which only he controls.

The arrival of this more than worthy adversary necessitates the return of Batman who finding himself in a face off with Bane finds he is not as on top of his game as he had imagined. Thus he finds himself exiled, imprisoned and removed from the centre of the action leaving his unfinished work in the hands of his disciples including Blake, Kyle and Commissioner Gordon, until his inevitable return as a vigorised superhero who outclasses them all.

One of this film’s great strengths is that it never allows any of the events at its core to dominate over others therefore the sub-plots remain as important as the main action sequences. Therefore Batman/ Wayne’s time exiled in the pit is just as fascinating as the carnage taking place at the same time in Gotham city Having such a strong cast likewise does not allow any one star to command centre stage over and above any other-although Hardy is a contender- with each working as a tightly knit ensemble to create a cohesive and very worthy whole. Whilst the ending is slightly ludicrous and farfetched- remember this is a comic book hero after all – this is irrelevant as the action leading up to its conclusion is a thrilling, exciting and wholly absorbing ride.

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