Directed by Christopher Nolan
On Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download from 3rd December
Third and final instalment of the Caped Crusader’s darkest reimagining.
Ever since Christopher Nolan brought the Batman franchise back to where it should have been all along, rescuing it from the ashes of the dire Batman and Robin with his thoughtful yet crowd-pleasing Batman Begins, you knew it was in safe hands. When he delivered an even better movie with The Dark Knight, anticipation began to grow for what he was calling the final film in the Batman trilogy. A very different beast to those other superhero success stories of 2012, Avengers Assemble and The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises consolidates Nolan’s reputation as a director who can do very little wrong.
Picking up eight years after the events at the end of the previous movie, we find Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a pale shadow of the man he used to be: haunted by the death of Rachel; leg busted by the fall that killed Harvey Dent; his company going down the tubes because of bad investments… Wayne hides away, not letting anyone see him, until he’s robbed by cat burglar – more accurately Cat Woman – Selina Kyle (a perfectly cast Anne Hathaway), who steals his fingerprints, along with his mother’s pearls.
Meanwhile, crime may have been all-but eradicated due to Dent’s legacy, but it’s built on a lie – something that doesn’t really sit well with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). It doesn’t sit well with gasmask-wearing terrorist Bane (an almost unrecognisable Tom Hardy) either, or his underground gang, who call themselves Gotham’s retribution. Encouraged by young rookie cop Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to do the right thing, Wayne sees little choice but to come out of retirement and investigate – something Alfred (Michael Caine) cannot stand by and watch. In a tear-jerking scene, he tells Bruce he doesn’t want to bury another member of the Wayne family, and leaves him to it.
Too late, our hero realises exactly what he’s up against when Selina betrays him and Bane beats the living daylights out of him (you feel every brutal blow). Defeated and only able to watch as Bane uses his fingerprints to gain access to a nuclear device, taking the whole of Gotham hostage, can Wayne – and his alter-ego the Dark Knight – rise up and win the day?
While you will definitely feel the loss of the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises (literally, as Heath Ledger’s untimely death still wounds even after all this time), what Bane lacks in charisma he more than makes up for in brains and brawn, effectively giving us a villain you actually believe can take Batman, for once. Not only does he have the strength, he also possesses the will. And, in Cat Woman, you get the emotional complexity of someone who thinks she wants chaos and mayhem (“There’s a storm coming,” she purrs to Wayne) but isn’t sure she wants that anymore when the reality of it hits home.
What’s also impressive is the scope of this movie. Nolan gives us the obligatory action moments, with standouts this time including any scene where ‘The Bat’ makes an appearance (the Bat-wing, by any other name), but he’s not afraid to play the story out over many months. Gotham under siege never feels forced or unbelievable in any way; after all, there are war torn cities all over the world that have to suffer the same.
The film also benefits – just like those before it – from a terrific cast, even in the supporting roles like Morgan Freeman’s returning technical whiz Lucius Fox, or newcomer Matthew Modine’s Chief of Police, Foley. Nolan’s also well known for reusing the same actors, so here we get Hardy, Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard (as businesswoman Miranda), Cillian Murphy and Caine having a little Inception reunion of sorts.
Then there’s the sense of a magnificent epic coming to a close, a build-up the likes of which we haven’t really seen since Return of the Jedi. And there are twists and turns aplenty before we get there, not least the question of whether Batman will actually survive. “You’ve given these people everything,” Selina says to him. “No, not yet,” growls Bats, with a sense of impending doom. Surely not even Nolan would have the balls to off the Dark Knight? Well, you’re just going to have to see for yourself.
A true cinematic event, The Dark Knight Rises is one of those movies where you’ll kick yourself if you miss it on the big screen; I wanted to go straight back in and see it again! It’s the perfect end to a perfect superhero trilogy and leaves you scratching your head as to where it might go next… and if anyone will have the balls to follow Nolan.
A definitive moment in the history of the World’s Greatest Detective 10/10
Extras review: The DVD features a simple transfer of the film, with a short (although good) documentary on the journey of Bruce Wayne through the Nolan trilogy. The Blu-ray extras include a good selection behind the scenes material titled “Ending the Knight” as well as a documentary on the Batmobile.