The Dark Knight Rises
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman
Overshadowed by the mass shootings at its opening night in Colorado last month, the final chapter in the British director Christopher Nolan's phenomenally successful comic-book trilogy is already a cultural milestone for all the wrong reasons. A huge commercial hit, The Dark Knight Rises is loud, flashy, bombastic, humourless and overlong. But Nolan ultimately delivers the goods with a supercharged modern fairy tale about grief, revenge and family that owes more to Batman Begins than The Dark Knight.
Eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Bale) has retired Batman, feeling unwanted and misunderstood by a largely crime-free Gotham City. But a Machiavellian boardroom coup leaves his business empire in tatters just as the entire city is taken over by the underclass warrior king Bane (Hardy), a memorably Shakespearean villain with a monstrous face mask that makes him spout menacingly poetic threats in a Darth Vader rasp. Anne Hathaway's slinky Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, appears to be working for both sides.
With its backdrop of financial crash and populist uprising, The Dark Knight Rises is full of interesting topical echoes. Bane's rebel army resembles an extreme version of the Occupy movement, or Arab Spring revolutionaries dispensing rough justice to their former rulers. Mercifully, Bale deploys his comically silly Batman growl much less here than previously, partly because the rubber-suited vigilante is oddly absent for much of the action.
The Dark Knight Rises is also far too long, with a plodding midsection subplot that could easily be 30 minutes shorter. But it is redeemed by its action set pieces, including the spectacular mid-air hijacking of a CIA rendition plane, the subterranean bombing of a football stadium and a nail-biting air-and-road chase through Gotham as a nuclear bomb counts down to zero. Nolan's superior bubblegum blockbuster is a feast for the senses, but not to be taken seriously.
Follow Arts & Life on Twitter to keep up with all the latest news and events @LifeNationalUAE