The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

(M) Warner Home Entertainment DVD/BD

With the exception of perhaps Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, no film released this year has had to contend with the immense weight of expectation that met The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight Trilogy, when it hit theatres in July.

Nolan’s films had re-written the rules of comic-book movie-making, combining box office success with critical reverence.

The Dark Knight Rises sees Bruce Wayne living in self-imposed exile after the events of The Dark Knight.

When the terrorist Bane releases thousands of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals from Blackgate Prison and succeeds in prompting a class war that brings the city to its knees — all the while obscuring his even more devastating plan — it becomes apparent that Gotham has no other hope and Wayne is forced to once again don the Bat-suit.

When the first film in the trilogy, Batman Begins, was released, much was said about this being a “darker” approach to Batman. But the darkness of Nolan’s trilogy was far from the first interpretation to present a dark and gothic approach to the character.

Rather, what made Nolan’s take on the Batman mythology different was his intent to ground it in the real world, asking the question, “How would this look if it happened in real life?”

This grounding in the real world then allowed for the film to engage with real world issues.

While other comic book adaptations like The Avengers and Iron Man have been incredibly successful, their pure escapism lacks the real-world relevance of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both very much products of the War on Terror. The Dark Knight Rises draws on the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement to deal with themes of revolution, capitalism and economic imbalance (as Nolan said in an interview, “You can’t really deal with Bruce Wayne without eventually acknowledging the massive wealth he’s a part of.”)

The Dark Knight Rises is a very ambitious film with a truly epic feel. It has a very large cast of characters and Nolan trusts his audience to keep tabs on everyone.

The scale of the picture is immense. The magnitude of some of the set pieces, employing thousands of extras, harks back to the epics of classical Hollywood and a style of filmmaking we just don’t see any more in the CGI era.

The Dark Knight Rises does not quite reach the lofty heights of its prequel, but then very few films have. It is, nonetheless, a very good film and a satisfying end to a very impressive trilogy.

It is pleasing to see a filmmaker with the conviction to take a very popular film franchise and bring it to a close rather than giving in to the temptation to drag it out. In closing the story of Bruce Wayne with The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has retained the integrity of what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the key film franchises of the early 21st century.

Duncan McLean 

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