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The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises, 12A, 164 minutes *****
IT’S been four years since Christopher Nolan unleashed The Dark Knight on the world, to plaudits from critics and fanboys alike, with the dark and exciting sequel showing the superhero genre how it should be done.
The darkness doesn’t let up in Nolan’s closure of the trilogy, and there’s a truly epic scale to the film that catches you from the opening salvo – an incredible mid-air heist that’s both a nod to Nolan’s love of Bond films, but still breathtakingly original.
Picking up eight years after The Dark Knight, Gotham is a safe and prosperous city thanks to the crusading law enforcement of Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and the late Harvey Dent, a casualty of the previous film.
Batman hasn’t been seen since taking the blame for a series of murders, including Dent’s, and Bruce Wayne has become a wounded recluse, mourning the loss of his childhood sweetheart, and in much the same mindset as he was when Batman Begins kicked off.
When rumours of psychotic terrorist Bane (the physically terrifying Tom Hardy), heading for Gotham turn out to be true, the fragile Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), dons the cape and cowl again with every expectation he may not survive the storm.
Nolan’s focus on character means there’s a sense of jeopardy throughout, and because he’s wrapping up his trilogy, all bets are off as to who’ll make it to the final reel.
While The Joker existed to inspire chaos, Bane has a plan – bring about a revolution to tear Gotham apart from the inside, destroy Batman in the process, and break his soul and body. The first confrontation between them is a brutal fight in the sewers, completely free from Hans Zimmer’s excellent score, so every blow is felt.
Newcomers to Nolan’s universe include the morally ambiguous cat-burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), with a voice as smooth as silk and heels literally as sharp as knives, and idealistic cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but returning cast Gary Oldman and Sir Michael Caine’s Alfred do the weight of the emotional heavy lifting, the latter telling Bruce Wayne “There’s nothing for you in Gotham but pain and tragedy”, knowing it won’t make a difference – he has to stand up for his city one last time.
Epic is a word bandied around too often these days, but once the fire rises and the city falls, the sheer scale of the film making means it’s the only word to describe Nolan’s effort – when you see a stadium of 11,000 people panicking as bombs go off, or 3,000 police officers squaring off against 3,000 terrorists, you know you’re witnessing film making of a higher order.