The Dark Knight Rises review (IMAX)
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Christopher Nolan rounds off his coffer-swelling superhero trilogy in rousing style...
I want you to brace yourselves. It’s important that you take a seat. If you would feel more comfortable phoning a loved one or finding a hand to hold, please do. I’ll wait.
Good. Here goes.
I wasn’t mad keen on The Dark Knight.
There. I’ve said it. If you want to send me hate mail or call me a boneless, wretched psychopath on Twitter, go ahead. I understand the gravity of the situation.
I believe the reason that I didn’t enjoy The Dark Knight was my situation at the time. I was working in an enormous comic shop in London prior to the film’s release and every day I would find myself selling endless Batman paraphernalia to legions of rabid, foaming fans. Masks and make-up, cowls and capes, you name it, I stuck it in a bag and handed it to a leering, twitching Batfan. Objectively, I know that Heath Ledger gave a storming performance as the Joker; in my heart, however, I find it difficult indeed to be overawed by a man whose likeness I have encountered on a hundred plastic dolls. Watching it again I felt the same. It dragged a bit. The boat scenes could have been removed wholesale. Two-Face was woefully under-used.
As a result of this, I paid no real attention to The Dark Knight Rises. I caught sight of a couple of posters, chuckled at Bane sounding like he was a late-night drunk arguing with a taxi driver around a mouthful of chips and generally left the hype machine to rumble along at its own pace. I hadn’t really planned to see it in the cinema at all, never mind in the synapse-frying, bone-shaking entertainment chamber that is the IMAX.
I was a fool. A terrible, narrow-minded fool. You see, it turns out that The Dark Knight Rises is one of the most bum-clenchingly exciting pieces of cinema that I have ever seen. Right from the off, it grabs you by whatever squishy places you happen to have and it refuses let go until the very end, whereupon you will have to fight every natural urge to stand up and whoop “DEAR GOD YEAH. OH HELL. YEAH. WOO. BATMAN! YEAAAAHHHH!”
I’m normally the most reserved, hard-to-please swine in the world. The Dark Knight Rises left me wanting to cheer like a Republican who’d seen Old Glory.
I don’t want to say much about the plot – you’ve either already consumed every morsel of information that you possibly can or you’ve assiduously avoided the merest hint of spoilers (or you’ve read the Guardian’s line-by-line breakdown of the movie disguised as a review. You poor sods) – as it’s best to dive into this movie cold. All that needs to be said is that it’s set eight years after The Dark Knight, allowing a Batman-less Gotham to get comfortably crime/supervillain-free. What could possibly go wrong?
A remarkable number of things, it turns out, not least of which is Tom Hardy’s horrifying Bane: an inhumanly muscular and surprisingly eloquent monster with a metal crab nailed to his face and an insatiable lust for blood. Anyone with a passing interest in Bat-lore¹ will know that Bane spells a very specific kind of trouble for Batman, trouble which director Christopher Nolan embraces with bleak glee. Every horrible second that Bane is on screen is filled with the sort of tense dread which would come from waking up one morning to find a furious, drunk gorilla climbing out of your wardrobe, at the same time remembering you’re wearing bright yellow, banana-scented pyjamas.
When not engaged in a growling match with Bane, Bale’s Batman finds time to flirt with – and get bewildered by – the felonious feline Selena Kyle (played with exactly right blend of campy-cheesecake and I-will-break-your-knees-if-you-dare-lay-a-hand-on-me ass-kickery by Anne Hathaway), inspire Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s idealist young cop and generally intersperse his brutal beatings with spots of navel-gazing and wistful yearning for a brighter future.
Yes, it’s grim and overblown, but for the final instalment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, that’s the only way it could possibly be. Were the film to, even for a moment, treat the source material as anything other than deadly serious, the whole house of cards would come tumbling down. There are moments of humour, but not once does the film acknowledge quite how ridiculous its premise really is. The knowing looks and quasi-ironic, gung-ho do-goodery of Captain America and The Avengers have no place in the relentlessly miserable streets of Gotham. Any attempt to include that would have undermined the whole shouty, punchy, brilliant series.
My only real complaint with the movie is that, at times, the basso profundo growling of seemingly every male character did make some moments genuinely difficult to understand. It’s not just Bane with his nightmarish fetish mask: Gary Oldman croaks out lines as Jim Gordon and Batman rasps along in sympathy. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve killed my hearing by listening to the theme from Daria and remixes of the Sonic 3 soundtrack at ear-bursting volume, but there genuinely were some conversations that sounded like a steam engine being fed through a wood-chipper in a wind turbine.
Not that it really mattered, however. It’s easy to pick up the general gist of those conversations by the level of punching and gurning that’s taking place: it’s easy to read a man’s body language when he’s pounding a goon in the neck, after all. If the only real flaw in a movie about a man with horrendous PTSD, a fleet of armoured vehicles and a bat-costume is that some lines are unintelligible, then you know the director has done well.
The Dark Knight Rises is an astounding way to end Nolan’s trilogy, with all the right twists and turns to leave you wanting to point at the screen and burble in awe.
The best thing? I haven’t had to sell a single Bane figurine. Bliss.
¹Not ‘Bat-Lure’ which is, of course, what Adam West uses when he goes fishing.
The Dark Knight Rises opens theatrically in the UK today
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