The Dark Knight Rises – Spoiler free review

5am. 20th July 2012. Ritz Mulitplex Cinema, Cookstown. I was one of the four hundred people packed into screen one for the “midnight” release of the Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to do something different for this film, which usually means VIP in Belfast, but having heard there was a 5am showing I instantly went lets go (after much persuasion)

I am an avid Batman fan. There’s no denying it. The man is my favourite hero, and quite frankly Nolan has done nothing short of reinventing the superhero movie from Batman Begins right up to Dark Knight Rises. Before going further I want to thank Christopher Nolan and his production team for such an outstanding trilogy of films.

Story
Now I won’t go into the story as that would be harsh on anyone reading this who hasn’t seen it yet, (see Spoiler review here) but if you have watched the other two then you know what you are in for. No different in story telling this film never ceases to astound you. It starts off slowly for about the first hour, but then just snow balls in pace right to the climatic finish.  What I love about this trilogy is how Nolan has written it. He has written it in the way that no matter your level of fandom – casual right up to die hard – you can enjoy this series. What’s even better is that Nolan doesn’t completely link his films to the comic books allowing you to enjoy them if you have never picked up a comic/graphic novel surrounding the Batman Universe.

Characters
Just like the story, Nolan has not disappointed in a character development and portrayal. As with the story, your level of love for the Batman will not hinder you in learning more about the characters. Bale has not dropped at bit in his performance as Batman. From reclusive Bruce Wayne to resurgent Batman, his focus and drive as the character never drops a beat. No matter which persona he is fulfilling you are gripped by every word he says and he is s

o believable as Gotham’s Hero.
Tom Hardy portrays Bane fantastically. Bane is supposed to be a mammoth compared to Batman, but I think to do that in a film would make a mockery of the serious atmosphere surrounding the trilogy. So in saying that he has done an excellent job in making Bane just as terrorising. It was reported Hardy had to put on 50lbs of muscle to do the role and it shows. He just looks massive next to Batman and the fight scenes stick true to this.  Also the script given to the character is brilliant. As much of a monster he is, Bane is very smart and when you hear him talking (ignoring the Sean Connery Impression) you get the sense of smarts coming from him. Also, when listening to an actor talk you believe it more when you see their full face, Hardy didn’t  have that luxury, but he still finds a way to make this work, which i felt would have been near impossible in that mask. All in all another great bad guy for Batman to take out.
Then there’s Selina Kyle. I will keep with Nolan and not refer to her as Catwoman, and frankly I think doing this has made her the best new character in the film. After the shambles of Halle Berry’s portrayal and the gimmick version of Michelle Pheiffer, not calling her Catwoman seems to have removed the stigma of these versions of the character. Anne Hathaway shows us that she is a formidable ally & adversary to Batman at different stages in the movie. Also it’s about time that Hollywood spat out a serious female character and not just put someone in the role due to her looks (I’m looking at you Megan Fox) in saying that Hathaway is smouldering hot from start to finish yet always remains believable.
Once again Michael Caine fulfils a somewhat brief role as Alfred. This is a tough time for him as he is pretty much watching his son destroy himself and Caine puts this across brilliantly in the emotional scenes he is in and you can’t help but feel sorry for Alfred at this stage. Not much else I can say about him without spoiling things on you.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes up the role of Blake, a rookie cop that is probably one of the few honest and straight cops on the force. Now I haven’t seen anything with Levitt in it, but have to say I won’t complain about him if he ever appears in another film I want to see. A great character from start to finish, you can’t help but think that his character is in to serve a higher purpose in this film.
The final new character is Miranda Tate, an environmentalist trying to get Bruce to invest in a sustainable power source that Wayne Enterprises began to develop. Marion Cotillard does a great job at playing Ms Tate in the film by again being a beautiful woman in a serious role and being believable. Again, not saying any more as anything more I wish to say could and will spoil it for you.
Finally, Lucius Fox aka Morgan Freeman. I love Freeman no matter what he is in. Every time I see a film with him in it I have not been disappointed, and over these three films i am glad he was cast in it. As the CEO of Wayne Enterprises and Batman’s armaments supplier he is a great support character. From start to finish another person you can rely on to make his character being believable which he does.
The cast is amazing, even if there are new faces that I personally have never seen before. What makes them so brilliant is their believability. In some recent films I have watched it just seemed that actors (no matter how much they say I loved making this film) don’t give a shit about the film and this leads to their characters being unbelievable. Not here. You hang on every word they say, each action they do and this makers for excellent viewing.
P.S. Honourable mention to Hines Ward, who is the Kick returner for the Gotham Rogues football team who said, and I quote “I’ve run scared before, but I really ran scared that day. They told me, ‘Don’t look back.’ I felt the explosion when I was running. I had to wear earplugs. Usually, I’m smiling when I’m running, but that day I was actually screaming.”
Audio & Visually

Nolan and team done a great job on the earlier films and have finished the trilogy as strong as they started. Visually it is a spectacle. From car chases to fist fights everything is out there and massive. Even better are the locations. The final fight between Bane and Batman is filmed on Wall Street and the football scene is shot on Pittsburgh Steelers home field, Heinz Field are just some of the locations.  (P.s. the Gotham Rogues are pretty much the roster of the Steelers).  The fight scenes are beautifully constructed and you can tell there was a lot of work put in by the cast to nail these sequences down in order to make the movie better. Again, due to my weariness of the character and actress, I was impressed with Anne Hathaway’s scenes, those shoes couldn’t have been easy to work in!
The audio of the film has its high and low points. As I only realised on second viewing (remember my first one was at 5am and I wasn’t fully functioning), the musical score, whilst powerful as we have become accustomed to with this trilogy, drowns out some important lines from the film. This is made worse by Bane. Whilst he can be understood most of the time, when the music becomes loud you can hardly decipher a word he says. But other than at nothing else wrong with the musical score.

Finally…

9.5/10
So there we go, the wait is over and worth it it was. The minor gripes with the audio are what kept this from reaching full marks, but do not let this deter you. Dark Knight Rises brings to close my personal favourite trilogy of movies since Die Hard. Everything in this film can be loved as I did. Now whether that’s the geek in me or my honest opinion I will leave you to decide , but I am definitely a satisfied Geek and fan. Thank you guys, you have done what many thought not possible and created a great trilogy of Batman films.

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