People often point out negatively the escalating nature of the Hollywood blockbuster. And while the majority of blockbusters are loud, long and obnoxious, rarely do they feel epic. Christopher Nolan has made several great blockbusters in his career, but it was not until the hugely anticipated The Dark Knight Rises that he made his first true epic.
Like the majority of people, I was looking forward to the conclusion to Nolan’s fantastic Batman trilogy. He changed the nature of superhero films with Batman Begins and nearly perfected them with The Dark Knight. Both of those films, however, had many problems. My expectations were high, but unlike many people, I was not expecting the greatest film of all time.
What Nolan delivered with The Dark Knight Rises surprised me. It is an epic on the scale that we never see nowadays. It feels, in its scope, more aligned with a David Lean film than your typical blockbuster. We travel the world, see wars fought, and cities crumble. And, maybe most impressive of all, it is all done while keeping the emotional core of the film front and centre. It is Nolan’s most emotionally effective film yet, something I was quite shocked by.
The Dark Knight is, of course, a difficult film to follow. It is considered by many to be one of the great superhero films, and features an unforgettable villain in The Joker. It would appear as if Nolan is not trying to top himself, but make something completely different. Everything about this film feels bigger and better. Tom Hardy’s Bane is the perfect villain for this film, and he plays him wonderfully, not to mention terrifyingly as well.
The acting is great right across the board, with Bale giving his best performance yet as Wayne. Maybe, most surprisingly is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Many doubted her ability to play an effective Catwoman when she was first cast, but she is quite incredible as the complicated cat burglar. It is, however, Michael Caine as Alfred who is the true standout. With each appearance on screen, he brings you close to tears. It is a beautiful performance and one I certainly did not expect.
Like many of the great epics of the past, The Dark Knight Rises remains concentrated on its core characters while being about so much more than that. It brings the series to a close, while at the same time being its own beautifully told unique story. Christopher Nolan has completed a great trilogy with by far the strongest of the three. With the help of Hans Zimmer’s great score and Wally Pfister’s stunning cinematography, he has also made one of film’s great epics.