The Christopher Nolan series is known by many to be the best series of Batman films to date. Their dark twist has managed to please fans, and the intricate narrative, pulse-pounding action, and truly spectacular effects have made this a series to remember. Now the finale is upon us, and it is undoubtedly the biggest scale, the most emotionally involved, and absolutely the most climactic entry of them all. The Dark Knight Rises finishes the series with a bang, and it is not one to be missed.
From the word go, we can see that Nolan has saved the best villain until last. Tom Hardy stars as the unstoppable Bane. Just from the opening scene, we see a glimpse of his strength, speed, skill and brutality, but this is nothing compared to what comes later. He is a large change from the 1997 version, who was just a hulking brute who played nothing more than a super-powered bodyguard for Mr Freeze. This time however, he can think and speak for himself, and is an incredibly intelligent criminal mastermind and tactician. This isn't to say he's weak. Bane is the first adversary that Batman has faced, who can easily outmatch him in physical combat. His intellectual side is balanced by his ferocity, and has clearly been saved for the climax of the series.
Without giving too much away, the plot picks up around 8 years after The Dark Knight left off. After the death of Harvey Dent, and Batman having taken the blame, Bruce Wayne has hung up the suit and become a crippled recluse, due to his injuries sustained during his crime-fighting days. However, the appearance of Bane forces him to don the mask once again and take a stand against the criminal menace who promises Gotham's "salvation". However, due to the fact that nobody in Gotham knew about Dent's insanity, and now look up to him as a hero of justice, Batman is wanted for his murder, and so must fight the Gotham City police force too. Alongside this runs the story of Selina Kyle, the elusive cat burglar who is clearly more than she seems to be. Many references to the previous two films and a number of surprising plot turns toward the end had me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing how it was going to go.
The film is visually stunning. The chase sequences, the explosions, the action scenes, the special effects, the gadgets and gizmos, everything about this movie screams high budgets. The soundtrack compliments this beautifully. One particular scene that caught my eye, was during a fight between Bane and Batman in the sewers. This is the first time we've seen Batman as the lesser combatant, as Bane easily overpowers him, but the score playing whilst Bane demonstrates his power and savage brutality really does well to help the viewer capture the sense of helplessness and emphasize with the hero's pain.
Christian Bale gives his usual, deep-voiced performance as Batman, with supporting characters such as Micheal Caine and Morgan Freeman reprising their roles as Alfred and Lucius Fox delivering great performances, but once again, the show is stolen by the villain. Whilst Tom Hardy's Bane, is no Heath Ledger's Joker, he still manages to blend the tone of criminal insanity, with one of calm intelligence and tactical awareness, which is no lean feat. With a mask covering his face for the entire film, Hardy had to rely on his voice, rather than facial expressions to convey his emotions, which he does superbly. Also, not to be discredited is Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, who manages to keep any intentions, feelings or emotions towards particular characters a secret. This isn't bad acting, it's great acting, as the character she plays is clearly supposed to be mysterious, and have unknown motives.
From start to finish, this film has the words "epic" and "climactic" written all over it. From the opening sequence, featuring the gradual destruction of an airplane, and a mid-air rescue that is pretty damn awesome, to the ultimate clash between the masses of the Gotham City PD, and Bane's criminal army, which is truly a battle to behold. The explosive finale to the series is certainly one that shouldn't be missed, and manages to close the saga with a bang. Nolan has certainly done the Batman story proud, and has once again delivered a knockout movie that is guaranteed to thrill all fans of the series. However, one minor problem that cannot be mentioned here (spoilers) holds back a perfect score.
9.5/10 - Fantastic