out of Five
Running time: 164
Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman film is a fitting and satisfying end to the trilogy, thanks to an engaging plot, stunning effects sequences and terrific performances from a superb cast, though the fight scenes are still a little disappointing and key elements are frustratingly underwritten.
What's it all about?
Co-written (with his brother Jonathan) and directed by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises is the third and apparently final part in the director's Batman trilogy. Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the film begins with bearded billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as a virtual recluse, having seemingly hung up the Bat-costume following a city-wide crime clean-up by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) in the wake of the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart).
However, when slinky cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) piques Bruce's interest by stealing his fingerprints, he swings into action as Batman again, much to the distress of faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine). Unfortunately, Batman's problems are only just beginning, as Selina sells his fingerprints to gas-masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who has a master-plan that involves stirring up revolution in Gotham City.
The performances are excellent – Bale seems to have taken the Joker's “Why so serious?” taunts seriously and has lightened up a bit (not much, but a bit) for the third film, while Hathaway brings some much needed humour and sex appeal into play as Selina; Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also terrific as dogged cop Blake, who uncovers some truths of his own and whose story strand forms an important part of the film. In addition, the script is superb, encompassing a sprawling, novel-like plot (there are references to Dickens that go beyond an abundance of orphans) that ties everything together in satisfying fashion.
On top of that, Nolan orchestrates some terrific set-pieces and deploys some jaw-dropping special effects work, particularly in the bravura opening sequence and the scenes involving Bane's master-plan.
That's not to say the film is without flaws: for one thing, Nolan still hasn't quite got the hang of fight scenes and the Bat-punch-ups are a little disappointing as a result. Similarly, the film is a good twenty minutes too long and key relationships are painfully underwritten, most notably between Selina and Batman, but also the ill-defined association between Selina and her apparent sidekick Jen (Juno Temple) - they are essentially “12A lesbians.”
A few quibbles aside, it's fair to say that The Dark Knight Rises is the film the fans have been waiting for, thanks to stunning effects work, a satisfying script and terrific performances from the superb cast. Recommended.