Nolan, Bale and co do it again on film number three and genuinely round off the trilogy in both surprising and satisfying fashion.
For anyone who reads or listens to my ramblings on this blog it will probably come as no surprise that I’m something of a fan of comic books and their associated movies (yes even some of the really bad ones… see Captain America 1990).
So, it was with a major sense of excitement and anticipation that I ventured into the cinema to watch the third installment of what has become known as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
From the start this was clearly pretty much the opposite of Marvel’s big summer offering, The Avengers, but at the same time managed to be equally as engaging and enjoyable, just in a very, very different way.
The thing that strikes me most about the film, that doesn’t involve massive spoilers, is the way it at once manages to be one of the most comic book like movies I’ve seen in a long time, in terms of plot, structure and style, while also delivering the something different that has become the mark of Nolan’s Bat-movies, with a genuine sense of reality around the comic book tropes.
While the first in the Dark Knight Trilogy is an origin story and the second goes off the rails (in a good way) in many ways thanks to The Joker and Two-Faces mayhem, this is an exploration of post 9/11 terrorism as well as being a great story about the Batman.
The notion of exploring terrorism is an interesting one because throughout the movie I got the sense that this was something of a comment on religious fundamentalist terrorism, particularly dealing with the notion that such things can come from anywhere, but, as ever here they do come from a ‘foreign’ land despite what seems to be an English accent under Bane’s mask.
However, upon talking to a few other people, they saw the ideas and ideals of Bane as being a criticism of the Occupy and 99% movements. While I can see how you could reach this conclusion, personally, I saw Bane’s actions as, if anything, being a criticism of those who have used the Occupy movement for their own gain, twisting ideas and ideals, in much the same way as religious fundamentalist terrorism arguably twists its religious basis.
Christopher Nolan on set
Away from the issues, which also continue the standard Batman thread of dealing with loss, my only thought on the story (which won’t take us into spoiler territory) is that, for those less involved with the DC universe than myself, I wonder how much sense a lot of it might make.
While I was able to revel in the references and pick up on the details relating to characters back-stories from both the film and the comics, and the clear references to three of my favourite epic arcs in Batman comic book history, to those less initiated I wonder if some of the exposition may have been confusing and somewhat over the top and too many characters introduced without necessary explanation?
Though that would be for less initiated Bat-fans to let me know…
Tom Hardy as Bane
In terms of the new characters, when it comes to main ones, Nolan once again delivers some excellent interpretations that may well actually out do his takes on Joker and Two-Face from The Dark Knight.
Most obviously there is Bane.
While in the comics he is a mercenary who is clearly hyper intelligent and both a physical and mental match for Batman, he also, somewhat bizarrely, seems to be wearing a pro-wrestling outfit with luchdore mask.
Here he is transformed into a mercenary/terrorist who is on a par with Batman and, thankfully, has replaced the spandex with body armour, combat trousers and a fantastic fur-lined coat, along with a face mask which makes him look like some kind of monster, creating an almost direct opposite, both in terms of appearance and mentality, to The Batman.
While The Joker also presented an opposite to the Bat, that was in terms of control and chaos, here it is terms of how someone with the same ‘powers’ would come out if their moral compass was flipped, which creates yet another interesting antagonist, following on from Ra’s Al Ghul and the aforementioned Clown Prince of Crime.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle
The other new character we meet is Selina Kyle, known more commonly in the comics as Catwoman.
Here, Anne Hathaway creates a version of Kyle clearly referencing elements of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, which has had a strong influence on this whole trilogy, and keeping alive the idea from the comics that Kyle is not just a villain.
In fact, she has an almost Han Solo type arc here, which is refreshing and, much like Bane, The Joker and Two-Face, serves to highlight elements of the Batman/Bruce Wayne character.
Speaking of The Batman, and the other returning characters, they are all once again expertly portrayed and build on the foundations laid in the previous two movies, but there isn’t much that can be said about their developments without directly referencing the plot and, therefore, spoilers.
So, in the end, for me, The Dark Knight Rises is an excellent piece of cinema combining comic book conventions with big blockbusters with that extra something that Christopher Nolan has become known for and it winds up the trilogy excellently… does it out do the original Star Wars as my favourite trilogy?… just maybe!