The Dark Knight Rises, 2012.
Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard.
Eight years after the murder of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne is broken down and the Batman hasn’t been seen since.
“What are you going to write about it?” Damian asked awkwardly, staring glumly at his feet whilst fingering the second-to-top button of his shirt. The top one was undone. It had been unfastened two hours 45 mins earlier in excitement.
“I-I-I… don’t. I don’t… I…” Dick looked as though he were about to cry again. “It was just so… the way they… and the moment when… it was just…” He broke down for the third time since leaving the theatre. “What can you say about that? It’s just perfect,” he blubbered into the back of his hand.
“It’s probably better we say nothing at all. There seems to be a nice spirit surrounding the film where no one talks about any plot details. Superlatives appears to be the best way to go about it. Rotten Tomatoes even disabled any negative comments because of death threats. You see that?”
“Someone didn’t like it?” Dick asked, his eyes deep with disbelief. “…I’ll kill them.”
“And we’ve been asked not to give much away by the PR people. But how do you talk about a film like that? It leaves you a little… you know… speechless.”
“It’s the greatest movie I’ve ever seen. Ever. In the history of all the world.”
“So let’s try to unpack all that a little. It was eight years after The Dark Knight and the death of Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) was a recluse, holed up in the east wing of his manor. Nobody had seen the Batman since, and they all believe him to have killed Dent. Meanwhile, a new criminal, Bane (Tom Hardy), has smuggled himself into Gotham and he’s been…”
“Whoah, whoah, whoah – keep your voice down. Someone might hear you. You’ll spoil it for them.”
“You’re right. Sorry,” Damian turned to the elderly lady sitting across from them on the tube, the only other person on the carriage. “I’m sorry. Have you bought your tickets yet?” The old lady just smiled and nodded, and not in a way that indicated any understanding. Damian turned back to Dick. “But we can talk about the previous two films, though. Right?”
Damian shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t know. If you draw any attention to parts of Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, people might figure out that they feature in Rises.”
“You’re right. Well, we could just say that Rises does reference the previous two, and that it does so with incredible poignancy. Whenever Nolan inserted a shot or flashback to the other films, it really gave the franchise a sense of scope, of finality. It helped to understand the significance of any major twist turns too. It’s almost from Bruce’s perspective, that whenever he figures something out, the film flashbacks to the clue that was given to us earlier in the trilogy. Like when-”
“WHOAH! Come on. You’ll spoil it.” Dick looked towards the two pre-teenage girls that had just boarded the carriage. Their faces were caked in foundation and their eyes shrouded by mascara. The one closest to them stuck up her middle finger.
“It was pretty long.”
“It didn’t feel long. Felt like 90 mins to me.”
“No it didn’t. It felt like two hours 45 mins, because it is two hours and 45 mins. The human behind didn’t evolve for summer blockbusters.”
“More bang for your buck. Avatar was 162 mins, and that film was money. Hey, I wonder if James Cameron might take over Batman now.”
Damian closed his eyes and flexed his right hand, waiting for the intense fury to subside. He pictured his fists flying as quickly as Bane’s into Richard’s ribs. “Thing is, I’m not saying that as a criticism. I think the length added to its scale. Batman’s like an old friend. I could spend days with the guy. But if any film is over two hours long, it should have an intermission.”
“It was epic.”
“That’s probably the best way to describe it. Epic. Overwhelmingly epic. From a physical standpoint, too. I could barely stand when we left the cinema. And the action scenes are phenomenal, much better than those in The Dark Knight. There were at least three occasions where I punched my fist by my side. You could actually understand what’s going on this time. Each action set piece was precluded by a lengthy, tense build-up, with Nolan cutting between various supporting players. The average bobby on the street, the gangster talking shop before a heist, the oblivious worker within the building fretting over his lunch – just like the prologue to Dark Knight. But Nolan exceeded himself here. His direction is now finally as comprehensible as it is kinetic, recalling Michael Mann at his best.
“Nolan said in an interview that there’s a lot of similarities between Rises and Charles Dickens, specifically his Tale of Two Cities. But he was talking narratively. Structurally, the film owes a great debt to Dickens also. Eisenstein once claimed that intercutting – where the action cuts between many different scenes to build tension – has its roots in 19th century literature, namely Dickens. With Rises, Nolan has mastered this effect in film. In blockbuster cinema, no one can currently match Nolan’s ability to cross-cut.
“And the performances are sublime. Anne Hathaway moves like a cat. There’s a shot of Catwoman walking away from a ruckus of her doing. Her hips bounce from side to side like a Newton’s cradle, her arms are flat by her sides with her palms facing behind her. She could walk off screen and right into the panel of a comic book. She switches from dame in distress to femme fatale quicker than two shakes of a lamb’s tale.
“Tom Hardy, despite having a large breathing apparatus covering his mouth (the opposite to Batman, who’s mouth is exposed), manages to convey the meaning of every sentence by straining his eyes, or opening them ever so slightly wider. He had to, really. The voice is still an issue, and a few lines are indecipherable. The reading of the Bane character, however, is both original and interesting. Joseph Gordon Levitt was excellent as an idealistic police officer, and his pairing with Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon provided a nurturing relationship.”
Upon finishing his tangent, Damian noticed they’d missed their stop. Dick had started sobbing again, occasionally muttering “so…good…”
“I still don’t know what I’ll write,” Damian continued over Dick’s muffled tears. “There’s too much emotion there. This was our generation’s Batman, and now it’s over. It feels like when Toy Story ended, in a way.”
Damian ushered Dick off the tube and sat him down gently on a platform bench. They were outside now and the wind was picking up. The clouds were swelling black and blue in the distance. It would rain soon.
And just underneath the darkening heavens, a large billboard poster blocked their view of the city they’d left behind. It was of Batman standing tall, powerful, amidst a riot of misguided revolutionaries and shouting police. The image tugged at Damian’s gut. He wasn’t a religious man, but if he had faith in anything, it was the caped crusader who stood proud before him.
“What do we do now?” Dick asked in relation to going a few stops too far, but it could have easily been about their life in general.
Damian glanced at the hero again. “We believe in Batman.”
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Oli Davis (co-editor)