Monday, 30 July 2012

Strawberry Shots and Plum Filled Plots #3 'Where's the trigger?!' - The Dark Knight Rises Review

"Come at me bro!"
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy came to an epic conclusion in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises to mixed reviews from fans. People felt that while the film was good, it was nothing they had not seen before. I wholeheartedly agree.

As a film in itself, it was incredible. The plot was gripping (if a little hard to follow, but then that's Nolan for you), the characters compelling and the drama thrilling. However, it felt like a bit of a re-hash of Dark Knight (#2). The plot, while still good, again had Batman pitted against a super villain, this time Tom Hardy's 'Bane', and his criminal/terrorist gang while they try to carry out their plan to destroy Gotham City. Compare that to Ra's Al Gul in Batman Begins and The Joker in The Dark Knight and the similarities are not hard to spot.

Bane fights side by side with Batman in Arkham City
 However, I thought it interesting that Nolan chose Bane as the films main antagonist. In the comics, Bane is a bit of a nobody who is made strong by a mask which filters a chemical known as 'venom' into his blood. With the 'venom' supply, he doubles in size, goes into a rage and basically kicks ass. Think of him as the D.C version of Spider-man's 'Rhino' or X-men's 'Juggernaut.' Slow, a little stupid, easy to outmanoeuvre but strong as all hell. However, in this film, Bane is weaker (still strong enough to punch through brick however...) but much smarter, able to carry out intricate plans/plots/evil schemes. Apparently Nolan chose Bane over fan favourite 'The Riddler' because he saw him as Batman's physical as well as mental equal. Now that's a re-imagining.
Another thing I found interesting about Bane and the film as a whole was that in one scene, the famous panel of Bane breaking Batman's spine in Batman #497 was faithfully recreated. Don't want to give too much away but seeing it in that dark, dingy format was something else!

The only thing comical about Bane was that he sounded as if he was trying to do an impersonation of Ian McKellen as Gandalf or maybe Sean Connery as James Bond. Once I realised this, every time he opened his mouth, it was difficult not to laugh.

Bane aside, the film flowed very well. My only major criticism is that the twist came too late. It happens very suddenly (in the middle of a fight scene actually) but is quickly tied up within about 5 minutes. It needed fleshing out over about half an hour for it's full effect to be felt. Also, I feel that as a fan myself, it hit me harder. General film goers probably wouldn't have grasped the magnitude of the suggestion but because I have spent countless hours reading about it (to my academic detriment I must confess...) I think that the blow was harder for me (and indeed the rest of the die hard fans). 

Also, this film is set 8 years after the end of the second. However, all the characters don't look a day older than when they were last shooting. Understandable, but then don't set the new film so far into the future. Lucius Fox and Alfred should by all rights be well past it if that's the case, bringing Bruce his dinner on a tray while they hobble after it on zimmer frames. However, obviously they still look exactly the same as they did in the last film.

The conclusion however is perfect. Nolan outdid himself with that. No doubt. Again, I won't give anything away but all the loose ends are successfully tied up but there is enough Batman mythology reference to allow for a potential spin-off. All I will say is that the title may not be referring strictly to Bruce Wayne...Ah-haaa...

Anyway, must dash, Alfred is calling. Apparently there's some bright light in the sky in the shape of a cat idea what he's on about...

Total rating of 8/10.
Brilliant, one to watch if you've got the time but if not, stick on The Dark Knight and you probably won't have missed much. 

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