As the bat-hype rolled out and we caught the glimpses of what was to be the Dark Knight Rises we couldn’t help but salivate at the possibility of what the final chapter of the trilogy would bring: A (kind of) Bat-wing, Catwoman, more baddies than you can swing a utility belt at and a big ol’ bastard with a better grill than a Cadillac, smashing seven shades of bat-shit out of the Caped Crusader. Would it be Knightfall? Would it be the end of Bats? Who would carry the mantle? Where would we go from here?
For better or worse all your questions are answered. However, as it unfolds, Dark Knight Rises is weighted with a strange sense of inevitability. Meaning you’re waiting for that plot strand to tie up or this character to take centre stage. The result is like watching the game from the subs-bench.
For those loyalists to the first installments, you’ll be pleased to know it’s all still here. We pick up 8 years after the Joker tore Gotham’s underworld apart and Bats took the fall for Harvey Dent’s vengeful rampage. All the actors are back, even in the smallest parts, which adds a pleasing continuity. Nolan is careful to keep his signatures and continues to keep The Bat grounded in reality…but somehow it feels like Goyer did the directing, although he’s only credited with "Story" here. Things just don’t quite fit. Establishing Wayne at his lowest ebb excuses how the world’s greatest detective may not see it coming, but you do. Similarly the sexiest cat burglar in Gotham City just isn’t that sexy, and in spite of having limbs like twigs is undefeated in any tussle.
Story-wise the Nolan Brothers do well to lay out the tangled web and weave it all coherently by closing credits. But there’s so much here it seems a little rushed, even for a movie with a 2hr 44min running time. No doubt, everyone gets their due. Whether it be broken bat, muscle bound menace or guilt-ridden commissioner. The arcs are neatly covered, yet the most interesting ones are not front-and-centre (at least not to start). Strangely it’s not Bane, but Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Blake that’s the most tantalising character and were it not for the eponymous Knight would probably have the script revolve around him. Ultimately it all feels like a set up, which is strange for the finale of a trilogy. Whether or not this is the studio meddling with the story to keep a possible franchise alive for another go-round, the result is the undermining of Bat’s journey. It could be argued that the continuation is due to the strength of the Bat-Mythos and his effective empowerment of Gotham civilians, but if that was the case why give advice on mask wearing?
There are some genuine thrills and victories along the way. A GCPD vet exclaiming “You’re in for one hell of a show!” when Batman is back in the literal saddle, is just as exciting as seeing him don the cape for the first time. Simialrly an exchange between Bruce and Alfred is the most moving scene in recent memory. Alas, the hits aren’t enough to save the one big miss.
3* – Bat Hur