Release date: December 3rd, 2012
Certificate (UK): 12
Running time: 164 minutes
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway
Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Ben Mendelsohn
In 1985 Tina Turner sang We Don’t Need Another Hero but as the years went by I’ve often thought how wrong she was. With corruption, injustice and lawlessness on the streets today from the likes of politicians and bankers to street thugs, it seems now more than ever we need a hero. Still, things could be worse; we could be living in Christopher Nolan’s version of Gotham City.
The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final chapter in his Batman series, is set 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight (2008) and sees the city moving on with Harvey Dent celebrated as a fallen hero and Batman (Christian Bale) disappearing as its villain, leaving Bruce Wayne free to finally live his life. The problem is he hasn’t been able to, much to the dismay of his servant Alfred (Michael Caine).
Alfred’s character has been a pivotal part of the series; not only is he the only one who’s built a bridge between the allegorical set-up of Gotham City and flesh-and-blood humans like you and me, he’s also been an emotional and rather practical anchor for Bruce. In a way, Batman is virtually impossible without Alfred, and quite unexpectedly we learn how true this is, and how much the whole trilogy has relied on this relationship.
In the wake of Harvey’s death and cover-up, the Dent Act has been passed which gave the city the power to eradicate organised and violent crime and lock up around 1,000 criminals. Meanwhile Bruce has retreated from public life and in the calm before the storm he only becomes aware of his gradually worsening financial situation when it’s too late.
With the privileged life he’s always known falling away from him and new villains, such as corrupt businessman John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) and freelancing cat burglar Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), making their presence in Gotham City felt, Bruce is stirred back into action when Gotham needs its hero the most.
Bruce’s comeback though is rather abrupt. Unfortunately Nolan doesn’t spend much time on Batman’s return which, after an 8-year hiatus, would have been one of the more interesting parts of the story — here it jumps, while at other points it lingers.
While The Dark Knight Rises seems to be tapping into the current zeitgeist and playing into our feelings about elite lifestyles, the financial crisis and the Occupy movement, as well as our anxieties about social unrest and terrorist attacks — especially in light of last year’s London riots and this year’s Olympics — what it seems to lack most of all is a strong emotional core that keeps the story interesting and flowing.
The film offers a few new faces including Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a police officer and one of the good guys who figures out Batman’s identity and helps convince him he’s still what the city needs. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a wealthy businesswoman who gives Bruce some motivation to continue developing a clean energy source, despite his fear that in the wrong hands it can be used as a nuclear weapon.
There are also some familiar faces; Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), Bruce’s trusted armourer Fox (Morgan Freeman), and the only villain to appear in all three movies, Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) returns to offer his form of justice in a kangaroo court.
The Dark Knight Rises gets off to a promising start with one of the most elaborate plane hijackings I’ve ever witnessed in a film. It’s here we meet Bane, before the action then shifts to Catwoman’s introduction at a ball attended by Gotham’s elite, yet despite these moments of excitement the film’s overall pacing and drawn-out story leaves a lot to be desired.
There are some great set pieces, including the destruction of the football stadium and bridges, but what I found troubling was that the story feels convoluted in the way it tries to tackle too much and ends up spreading itself too thinly.
That being said, it’s a film I enjoyed a lot more that Batman Begins (2005), but not as much as The Dark Knight, which at least kept its most interesting characters on screen long enough for us to emotionally invest in what’s happening to them. Though not a thrilling end to the series as I’d hoped, The Dark Knight Rises is a film I’m sure will find its loyal fanbase as those two previous films did, after all Gotham City is still very much like our real cities — in need of a hero.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .