Today, very rarely do truly epic cinematic events rise from ambiguity in such a spectacular manner as Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. Following The Caped Crusader’s eight year absence from cinemas little was expected from 2005’s Batman Begins in the wake of previously disappointing additions into the beloved franchise. Nolan’s previous filmsultimately hinted at the vast potential of the director’s take on the bat, and more importantly the man beneath the cowl, Bruce Wayne. Al Pacino and Robin Williams’ murderous game of cat and mouse through the Alaskan wilderness in Paranoia and Guy Pearce’s equally wrought descent into his own supressed consciousness in the cerebral Memento proved clear indicators of the director’s ability to intricately dissect the duality and underlying frailties of man’s mind, body and soul – a theme which has pursued Batman since his origin upon the page. Now, after two entries into a trilogy which was never intended to be, Nolan has firmly established his Batman pictures as equally challenging and entertaining standard-bearers of big budget releases – an accolade reaffirmed with his final crowning glory, The Dark Knight Rises.
TDKR is an extraordinarily grandiose and ambitious landmark upon the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking which promises to shape the perception of not only future films carrying the comic book adaptation tag – beginning with Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Superman reboot, Man of Steel – but also high-profile Hollywood releases of all genres. Brutal and claustrophobic set pieces constrict the narrative into a believable and moody study of pain, fear, love and death whilst soaring aerial portraits of ‘Gotham’ offer a sense of vastness and consequent futility when lead antagonist Bane’s symphony of destruction reaches its potent climax. Tom Hardy’s unique portrayal of the villain is excellent; his overwhelming physicality, eloquence and displays of heightened emotion making for an endearing and intimidating adversary to the trio of Christian Bale’s Batman, Anne Hathaway’s sultry Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s righteous cop John Blake. The rapport of Nolan’s ensemble, familiar faces and newcomers alike, breeds a believable chemistry in what is essentially an involving and character driven piece of filmmaking.
Cinemagoers lucky enough to witness TDKR in conjunction with ‘The IMAX experience’ will become fully aware of the necessary successor to the 35-millimetre footage of regular 2D multiplex screenings as opposed to the kitsch and often underwhelming novelty of 3D – especially the morally one-dimensional post-production variety. The fact that Christopher Nolan resisted studio whisperings of implementing 3D technologies, rather focusing upon capturing IMAX footage – seventy two minutes worth in the case of TDKR – not only allows the film to present itself as aesthetically breath-taking but forward-thinking. Hans Zimmer’s omnipresent score treads a fine line between accentuating the action on-screen and becoming a distractingly invasive presence, but when utilised in conjunction with the more bracing moments of Gotham’s reckoning the sheer intensity conjured stirs your body in the same manner as a sledgehammer to the spine. Many have commented on the unstoppable runaway train of a narrative presented within TDKR yet those quiet moments of bleak humour, despair and earth-shattering revelation still remain, retaining poignancy and grace in the midst of chaos and destruction. Plot holes in regards to the narrative timeline are present detracting from the overall immersion as huge periods unravel in the space of minutes, yet it is difficult to determine how Nolan could have solved these issues in a film already clocking in at just under three hours.
In an age in which mystique is seemingly unattainable as blogs and spoiler-casts rob cinemagoers of the element of surprise, the fact that such a widely discussed release can create feverous anticipation and suspense right up until the final credits roll is possibly the most commendable aspect of TDKR, thankfully the reward for such an emotional investment is a spectacular and rewarding farewell to Nolan and Bale’s bat and the finest superhero franchise ever made.