Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman
Synopsis: It almost seems ridiculous to write a synopsis for the most anticipated film of the blockbuster season, but here it goes. The final chapter in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the film is set eight years after the events of the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne became a recluse, and retired his masked alter ego. Gotham City is in an era of peace, but all that is set to be ruined by Bane, a character ex-communicated from the League of Shadows. All this, and many subplots, result in Batman being needed once again.
Nolan has successfully in two films redefined the Batman film franchise, and he continues to successfully shape that world ion this, his final instalment. Though there are fantastical elements to this world, he never loses sight of character development and motivation throughout. It is a thoroughly entertaining piece of cinema, gripping from the opening to the final credits.
Key to this is not only Wayne’s journey, which requires him to rediscover himself after years of shame and guilt over his failure to save both Rachael and Dent, but also completes a great story arc for Alfred whilst introducing new characters that are themselves fully realised. There is no question that Hardy’s Bane will remain a talking point for this film. He is both an intelligent villain who also remains physically imposing. Hardy disappears into the skin of this character, fulfilling the potential that he has shown in many roles before. Eventually, comparisons will occur between Heath Ledger’s defining Joker performance, which remains for me the more interesting of the two from a psychological point of view. But just as Bale’s and Keaton’s Batmen are different, the differences in these two enemies within the Nolan universe results in them not being able to be directly compared, as their goals are very different. Suffice it to say in the least, this Bane is the definitive Bane, putting the Schumacher Bane from Batman and Robin to bed finally. But I guess all Hardy had to do to achieve that would have been to just turn up to day 1 of filming!!
Another area where comparisons are likely to occur are between Pfeiffer’s and Hathaway’s Catwomen (forget Halle Berry, hers is not in this league!!). Hathaway’s portrayal is intelligently different to Pfeiffer’s whose is certainly iconic, but also more cartoony than the source material of the comics. I quite enjoyed her portrayal, which showed her much more the skilled cat-burglar than she was a wronged female out for revenge. Just as Nicholson and Ledger’s Jokers can co-exist, enjoyable as much for their differences as for their similarities, the same can be said in the case of Catwoman.
For me though two of the most interesting performances were from the non-headline characters. Oldman is as always brilliant as Commissioner Gordon, but Caine took my breath away in his limited number of scenes. His fear for Bruce is heart-wrenching, and I must admit his performance led to a tear or two being shed, as much as I tried to hide it from my lovely Bride.
The final performance worthy of a big mention is Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake. As a character the audience would be unfamiliar with, he introduces and interesting dynamic to his scenes. Despite being a non-headline character, he perhaps has more scenes than either Bane or Catwoman. His presence is vital to the progression of the story, and he is a powerful addition to the cast. Another Nolan regular, and this performance once again makes it clear why this is the case.
The journey is spectacular, but it is the ending of this film that is what makes it epic. Despite being the last Nolan film, it leaves me as an audience member certainly wanting more. To say any more would break all laws of film review, at the very least without huge spoiler alerts, but I choose not to run that risk.
I guess the final word is, does this film eclipse the other huge super-hero flick this year, the Avengers. Unfortunately, it appears box-office intake will not give us this answer, given figures appear to have been affected by the tragedy at Colorado. It is a blight on what should have been a great weekend for everyone that worked on this film, and is a sad reminder how one individual can ruin something magical for so many. However on a personal basis, I will comment that any world created by Whedon is always destined to be a different realm than that of Nolan, and as such I don’t feel the films can be directly compared. My personal love of everything Whedon and Marvel probably edges that film slightly in front, but true DC fans are likely to disagree with me. I am actually curious to hear the opinion of a comics lay-person that may actually be truly unbiased!!
5 stars out of 5