Going into The Dark Knight Rises I was finding it difficult to get Rush Limbaugh’s Bane/Bain logic out of my head because someone later noticed that Bane’s mask looks like Goatse (if you don’t know then you don’t want to…. seriously) when you look at it on it’s side.
So eight years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight and Gotham has been pretty much cleaned up as a result of the Dent Act, passed by virtue of Batman taking the fall for Harvey Dent going off the rails. Batman himself has been in hiding the entire time, and he remains a legendary figure
Christian Bale is the same old Bruce Wayne/Batman so no need to really go into detail there.
Tom Hardy’s Bane is interesting as a character. His voice is in some way distorted by the mask and this is illustrated both by having a slight metallic sound to it and by it lacking a direction from the speakers. This is definitely a plus for the big-screen here. When a character speaks they come from whatever direction they are standing. When Bane speaks he is all around you. The best thing about him is that, at times, you find yourself agreeing with him. There’s a clear lack of fairness to Gotham’s society, itself a microcosm of America and thus capitalism as a whole, and he’s challenging that so that the people can have power again. It’s also a doomed enterprise as he clearly just shifts the centralisation of power. The snow in Gotham during the later scenes is reminiscent of pictures of the North Korean famine which may be deliberate. Overall, the old “well spoken brute” cliché works very well for him, and his monologues are fun.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman is an interesting take on the character. She’s less the villain than in previous movies and less the hero at the same time. Some nice internal conflict has been added to the character and the resolution is pretty satisfying. She’s my new number 1 Catwoman, beating Michelle Pfeiffer by a small but definite margin.
Michael Caine delivers his usual golden performance as the long-suffering Alfred. And this time you get it, you really understand just how long and deep the suffering has been for the loyal butler. In this film he manages to make clear Batman’s role as tragic figure in a way that Batman himself never could.
Gary Oldman returns as James Gordon, now promoted to Commissioner of the GCPD. He starts the movie tortured by his decision to foster the Harvey Dent lie and even though he has been able to clean up Gotham he’s on the cusp of spilling the beans and retiring before he’s called back to the frontlines by Bane’s actions.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake, a somewhat new character to the series. I’ll leave out the details here and just say that he’s a welcome addition to the cast and story.
The action of the film was strange for a superhero movie, with Batman being less than on top form for most of it. The fight scenes are very much dominated by Bane’s sheer physical strength but there’s room for some fun mook abuse earlier on. The mandatory car chase was a bit too like the one in The Blues Brothers and it was handled more as a comic relief piece than a serious part of the film but the addition of “the Bat” made for a second and far more interesting chase scene towards the end. There is a bit of a plothole around that, but it’s not one that detracts from your enjoyment while you’re watching it.
So it holds up well. It’s a nice capstone to the Nolan trilogy and at the end of the day even if it’s not quite as dark as previous entries it’s a movie that I’ll happily recommend to anyone. “The Dark Knight Rises” is more than just the title of the movie, it’s a metaphor for what happens in the story, and it happens more than once and on a number of levels that leave you feeling rather happy that a “dumb comic book movie” and a summer blockbuster to boot can be so much more subtle and clever than they are normally credited with.