The third – and final – part of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes with many expectations. Would it be as dark as Batman Begins? As malevolent as The Dark Knight? Well, no, but it is the most exciting, edge-of-the-seat, banging-and-crashing movie of the three, both a gripping blockbuster movie in its own right and a perfect send-off for the man who likes dressing up as a bat.
It’s eight years since the events of The Dark Knight, where Batman took the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes to ensure that the former do-good lawyer’s memory would give Gotham the angelic hero it needed. Police commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) wrestles with the knowledge that Batman is innocent, while dark knight alter ego Bruce Wayne (Bale, brooding nicely) has become a recluse in his mansion with only trusted servant Alfred (Caine) for company.
Well, that is until a new criminal comes into town – the masked terrorist Bane (Hardy), a brute whose strength outclasses our hero and who appears to be on a mission to bring Gotham to its knees. Bruce realises it is time to don the Batsuit once again (and ride the Bat bike and a bizarre-looking flying machine called, unsurprisingly, the Bat) to come to the aid of a city that is literally crumbling around him (the special effects here are jaw-dropping).
With new characters given their share of screen time – Hathaway as thief Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, Marion Cotillard as Wayne business associate and potential squeeze Miranda, Joseph Gordon Levitt as young cop John Blake – this is more of an ensemble piece than the previous two movies, and actually has more in common with Nolan’s Inception than his Batman films. It’s a decision that works really well as Bruce’s story – which includes 21st century financial traumas connected to an attempt to devise a clean energy source – is intertwined with Bane’s history, Kyle’s search for redemption and Blake’s earnest ambitions. And that’s before Bane’s plan really kicks off and Gotham is turned into a city that’s a capitalist vision of hell as the rich are liberated from their wealth and then tried and convicted for their ‘crimes’ by Bane’s followers.
It’s not flawless, of course. As many people guessed from the early trailers for the movie, Bane’s mask does mean we don’t always entirely get what he’s saying, actor Tom Hardy’s deep voice muffled by the contraption (even though there were rumours he re-recorded his dialogue, at a few points he’s still completely incomprehensible, which actually makes him less threatening). And a plot point in the first scene involving a FBI agent doing something (or to be precise, not doing something) a bit bloody stupid does grate, even if the result does get the action party started.
Quibbles aside, this is still a terrific action thriller, and a grown-up comic book adaptation that doesn’t ever pander to kids even though they’ll all be itching to see it. With a 12A certificate (for some surprisingly bloodless violence and death, and a few minor swear words) this is really one for teens and adults who will truly appreciate what an impressive piece of filmmaking this is.
Is The Dark Knight Rises suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Younger children will probably find Bane very creepy in his mask. (That said, he’s probably less scary than the Joker and the Penguin from Tim Burton’s first two Batman movies).
As mentioned in the review above, this is an action/adventure movie aimed at teens and adults, so features violence in the fight scenes (though little blood). Younger children may find the bad guys threatening. Minor characters are killed but deaths are rarely seen.
There is some mild language including the words ‘bitch’ and ‘bastard’.