“Theatricality and deception, powerful agents for the uninitiated. But we are initiated, aren’t we Bruce?”
I saw ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ a week ago but I thought I had to give it a week and a second viewing to form an opinion. I felt that I had so many expectations that I couldn’t enjoy it properly. I was over analysing every scene which was unfortunate as I found it lacking in several areas. Christopher Nolan has woven many sleight of hand twists of character and plot into the film but I found I could see all of them coming from at least 30 minutes away. This started in the first 5 minutes when he uses exactly the same reveal-gag as in ‘The Dark Knight’ (Note the irony of my quote from the film above). Perhaps he thought that the plot was sufficiently convoluted that these would escape our notice. In fact in at least 3 or 4 points the characters pause for whole scenes to explain the plot and the character motivations, which is always unpleasant.
The characters themselves seemed lost despite the film’s 2 3/4 hr running time with Batman barely featuring (To the point where the audience I was with cheered when he finally showed up!). Alfred is relegated to a few brief scenes often simply to deliver information to camera. Gary Oldman’s magnificent portrayal of Jim Gordon also felt underused (But that’s probably because I could go for a whole trilogy devoted just to him). Anne Hathaway’s cat woman was pretty good but she only gets one decent one liner. Plus (After her seductively dangerous appearance in Nolan’s own ‘Inception’) I’d already cast co-star Marion Cotillard as Selina Kyle in my head, so to me Hathaway looked like a wrong choice in comparison.
So I left the first screening a little deflated but with a sneaking suspicion I was being over critical. Indeed on the second viewing last night much of the irritations I ‘ve expressed faded into the background (Although they were still there). I found I could enjoy the many good things about ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ with fresh eyes. Chiefly Tom Hardy’s take on Bane, which is predictably outstanding. He’s come up with a distinctive evil voice that’s part John Merrick, part Dr Evil and part Darth Vader. Imagine Hardy’s Bane saying the line “I am not an animal Mr Powers, I am your father” and you’ll get what I mean. Also the opening set piece is astounding to behold, especially as you know that Nolan will have done it for real, eschewing CGI shortcuts. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a welcome addition to the cast as grim-faced rookie Cop Blake and I suspect an action hero film career beckons. In the end the underlining strength of the dark vision Nolan has built across the first two movies means that the faults never overwhelm the movie. In fact I enjoyed this second viewing much more and might even give ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ a third go when IMAX tickets become available.