Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

“The Dark Knight Rises” – film review

“I once caught a bat THIS BIG

I still remember the slightly dazed feeling that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I had after going to the Vue cinema in Sheffield to see Christopher Nolan‘s dizzying, operatic “Batman Begins” sequel, “The Dark Knight“, in summer 2008.

It was a Sunday lunchtime, Batman was in the wind after sorting out the Harvey Dent situation and there was this distinct sense between us of having just been put through the wringer.  Had we just been entertained for two and a half hours or been through a punishing, sensory obstacle course?

The same feeling struck me after emerging from this morning’s screening of the third movie in Nolan’s series based on the DC comics character, The Dark Knight Rises“.

It needs to be said that this is an excellent film – a worthy cherry on top of the proverbial trilogy cake – but it’s an exhausting one which demands a lot of the audience, in terms of memory and ability to not visit the bathroom several times (forego the Super Gulp cup at your concessions stand – you will miss stuff if you have to visit the facilities during the film).  There’s no walking into this film green – you really do have to refresh your memory of “Batman Begins”, as it plays a significant part in proceedings, and it helps to have an appreciation of Harvey Dent, too.  It’s not as though there’s an exam paper to sit as you leave, but it will help to have some recollection of how our hero got to this point in this life and to know who the characters are, as introductions are sketchy at best. This is particularly true if the people in your party are not quite as geeky as the rest of us – you’ll be explaining a lot to them and missing things yourself.

The scale of the enterprise is what surprised me – we’ve all read those pre-release puff-pieces which seek to convince that “Summer Blockbuster X” sets the bar incredibly high and that we’re going to see things that we’ve never seen on-screen before – usually this translates as ‘canned special effects sequence marginally more entertaining than the one in that film we were conned into seeing last year’.  With “The Dark Knight Rises” I actually believe the hype for once – I’ve can’t recall having seen a film which has action set-pieces of the scale and duration seen during the last act in this film.  Big isn’t necessarily better, but Nolan’s taut command of the toy box at his disposal on “TDKR” makes the likes of “Transformers 3” seem even more weightless and juvenile than it already was, despite both films dealing in similar scenes of extended metropolitan destruction.

The performances match up to the apocalyptic imagery on display – Christian Bale is excellent and fully justifies Nolan’s initial decision to cast him with the rounded, nuanced turn he delivers here.  He’s beaten, bloodied and bowed by the demands and toll that his by-night vigilante campaign has taken on his body and mind – this is a Batman who wants out from the life he’s created for himself and finds that a wider world has something quite different to say about that.

Leaving on a jet plane? Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises”

He’s more than complemented by Anne Hathaway, who defies a million dim-witted fanboy forum posts by making the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman her own – slinky, sarcastic, haunted, defiant, conflicted, capable and able to walk in heels that even Lady Gaga might deem a bit complicated, this is a Catwoman quite distinctively different to those we’ve seen before in Bat-Cinema, TV and games.  There’s an exchange of dialogue between her and Joseph Gordon Levitt‘s idealistic policeman mid-way through the film which goes past beyond the sexy cat burglar archetype to hint at Kyle’s essential dilemna in this telling of the tale – she’s brilliant at what she does, but what she does puts her in situations which can’t help but keep her in the mire that she’s trying to escape.

Best Catwoman ever?  Your mileage may vary, but I thought that she was wonderful and that Hathaway did splendid work in the role.  Even the ears worked.  Kind of.

Tom Hardy is fantastic as the force of nature Bane – he’s got layers of character which haven’t been hinted at in the pre-publicity and their unpicking on-screen is a delight, giving this unaccountably posh berserker man-mountain an array of quotable and – get this – easy to understand dialogue.  It’s a strong actor indeed who can command the screen and hold the attention with much of his face replaced by a high-tech dog muzzle and Hardy manages to do it consistently – he’s helped, of course, by his imposing physical presence.  The words ‘Brick’ and ‘Outhouse’ come to mind.

Is this a good ending to the Nolan trilogy?  I would say so – but it’s not without some dodgy moments.  I thought that we were going to have a retread of  the second film’s “Which boat shall we blow up? The one with the rapists and murderers or the ‘Ickle Kittens and Orphans’ cruise?” moral non-quandry at one point, but we got past it swiftly.  There’s some fairly on-the-nose dialogue to contend with, too – you may wonder if Bane’s job is to defeat Batman or engage in some kind of unorthodox, “The Game”-style Billionaire Life Coach programme with him, given the steady stream of tough love aphorisms he delivers in their scenes together.   And Hans Zimmer‘s score is so overwrought that any metalhead listening will wonder why they didn’t save a few bob and just sling some Dimmu Borgir on the soundtrack – the aural, cumulative effect is noticeably similar.

I will want to revisit this film, but I suspect that a little distance will certainly help me to appreciate it all the more – it’s big with a capital B and such an endeavour deserves to have a little gulf between viewings, I think.  If “The Avengers” was like the best chocolate cake ever (with extra sprinkles), “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a delicious pasta dish with such a rich tomato sauce that you can’t face any other course afterwards.

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Take my money, Christopher Nolan – Take it!

Wonder if I can borrow the Tumbler to get there?

Well, that’s my Friday morning (and lunchtime) sorted.  The Dark Knight Rises, bought and paid for.  Not (Lie)Max, as it happens – I anticipate seeing this film again, though, so there’s always time to have my eyeballs scoured by Wally Pfister‘s cinematography being projected mere inches from my face, for the full sensory overload treatment.

Excuse me, Sir – You wouldn’t be attempting to record the film on your iPhone now, would you?

See you sometime later today with my non-spoiler verdict on this trilogy-capping uber-sequel.

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – what a lovely apocalypse…

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IMAX poster for The Dark Knight Rises via Empire Online.

So, there’s two weeks to go until Gotham gets an unplanned course of urban redevelopment, courtesy of the villainous Bane and his grumpy, demolition-friendly cohorts and the number one question for me about this is – do I hold out for proper IMAX or LieMAX, the multiplex-friendly version?

To go and see the film as Christopher Nolan intended involves a trip to Bradford or Manchester, travel and seeing a lengthy (164 minutes – edit, Chris, edit!) flick in not terrifically comfortable auditoriums.  On the plus side, proper IMAX is a sight (and sound) to behold, and this the conclusion to a well-starred trilogy – it’s worth making the effort.

LieMAX is more convenient for me – there’s a screen in my city – but pricey at £12 a ticket, considering that it doesn’t offer a dramatically bigger picture than one of the bigger theatres in my multiplex of choice.

All things considered, and unless I hear differently, I’m going to catch “The Dark Knight Rises” in a regular screen – I don’t remember feeling in any way short-changed by seeing the second Nolan Batman film in a ‘normal’ presentation.  The film, after all, is the thing, is it not?

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Batman meets his match…

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If you’re going to see “The Dark Knight Rises” this summer, you had best come prepared.

That’s because studio Warner Brothers have confirmed that the running time of Christopher Nolan‘s eagerly anticipated, trilogy capping, final instalment of the Dark Knight saga has a two-hour and 45 minute running time.  If you factor in the blitzkrieg of advertisements, concessions stand blurbs and trailers before the film, my Saturday July 21st 2012 trip to the cinema is going to run to three hours and 20 minutes.  Add on travelling time and Nolan is getting a fairly sizeable chunk of my weekend.

Insert ‘alternative use for large-sized popcorn tub’ gag here, gross humour fans.

I imagine that it will be worth it, but my recent trip to see “Prometheus” at my local multiplex has taught me a valuable lesson regarding my seating comfort during long films.  One of these babies is going to be rather useful:

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Geek-centric cinematic event of the summer or cruel and unusual punishment for us Indoor Kids?  I’m genuinely not sure…

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Trailered: “The Dark Knight Rises”

Happy Tuesday, everyone – have a trailer for the forthcoming Christopher Nolan opus, “The Dark Knight Rises” in your ocular cavities!

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If “The Avengers” is akin to a particularly delicious veggie bean burger in a sour dough roll with hot sauce, lettuce and mustard (go with me here), then The Dark Knight Rises looks like a particularly ornate three course meal with a decent cup of coffee following it.

Also, in related news, I’m now quite hungry.  Curses!

Hey, Hey, it's Anne Hathaway!

I’m amazed at how Christopher Nolan has managed to keep up the quality of his reinvention of the cinematic Batman for two excellent movies and it seems as though his aesthetic and storytelling choices show no sign of running out of steam if this trailer is to be taken as any evidence.

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No spoilers seem to be revealed herein – just tantalising hints about Bane, Bruce and the nature of the character played by Marion Cotillard and action sequences which look to one-up the large-scale mayhem liberally peppered throughout “The Dark Knight”.  This is the same Christopher Nolan, mind you, who according to the internet can’t direct action sequences.

This will end well...

And now a pause for a chuckle at the bonkers gall of that notion.  Oh, internet nerd defence forces, don’t ever change…

“The Dark Knight Rises” will, assuming everything goes to plan, be obliterating box office records at a cinema near you from July 20th…

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“The Dark Knight Rises” trailer now live


Yes, Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” is so much more impressive when you can see what the hell’s going on.

 

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – trailer and prologue reaction

If you thought that Christian Bale's Batman was difficult to understand, you'll love Bane...

The slight matter of the prologue for “The Dark Knight Rises” only playing in select IMAX cinemas in the UK and the teaser trailer being attached to prints of “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” wasn’t going to be an impediment to me seeing them today.  Oh, heck no.

This being the age of internet Kung Fu and impeccably coded bread crumb trails concealed within forum posts, I was able to hop around the interverse for a few minutes and got to enjoy both slices of Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming conclusion to the Batman trilogy.

Yes, they were in borderline-imperceptible, somebody’s elbow-in-the-frame, gritty and grainy cam-vision but that’s neither here nor there.  SPOILERS for the preview footage follow.

The prologue, first.  This is the six-minute sequence which introduces the threequel’s villain Bane and does even more than the extended snow level did in “Inception” to surely position director Christopher Nolan as a future Bond helmer.    The action is huge, seems admirably practical in staging and offers a wonderfully frustrating teaser as to Bane’s motivations, back story and character.

Hardy is fantastic in this most brief of glimpses  – a brute of a man who is none the less intelligent, methodical and possessed of a deadpan sense of humour (his one-liner when asked about the goal of his plan is a classic).  If there is a problem, its that Bane’s headgear and electronically processed voice makes it difficult to understand much of his dialogue – a problem compounded when his hench persons rappel down to the jet he’s being transported on (from their own transport plane, as one’s L33T hench persons are wont to do) and proceed to systemically dismantle the bloody thing whilst it’s in mid-air:  It’s a bold gambit and one that I support completely.

The thing is, when you’ve got an already difficult to understand character, heavy-duty sound effects competing for attention in the audio mix and all kinds of visual chaos going on (and you’re relying on this to be your big introduction to the character who will be the main antagonist in the film), it would be nice to be able to understand the bulk of what he’s saying.

It’s a simple but presumably easy to fix post-production problem, which will hopefully be achieved by the time that we get to hear the final sound mix in the release prints.  Because, and call me crazy here, I’m not sure that I want to see a film where both of the main characters are nearly impossible to understand.  It’d be like watching those two titans of elusive diction, Miley Cyrus and Chris Tucker acting together on-screen.  The horror – the horror!

The trailer gives a real sense, meanwhile, of Gotham City’s slide into anarchy and injustice without the Batman on hand to cause massive property damage and beat up fellow costumed neer-do-wells.

We’ve got a football stadium being blown asunder by Bane’s forces, prison riots, mass disorder, the Tumbler being pursued by Batman’s Batwing, Bane standing triumphant and even some business from Anne Hathaway’s Selena Kyle, whose dialogue suggests that Nolan is going to deal with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and anti-globalisation protests in some fashion.  Rather him than Michael Bay, I guess?

Glib internet snarking aside, the trailer is quite heady stuff, even when seen in the murkiest quality possible and suggests that Nolan has lost none of his gift for translating the heightened reality of comic book characters and settings into something which approaches a convincing reality – it’s always seemed as though Christopher Nolan was directing the sort of genre movie which Michael Mann is so skilled in,  but interpolating his take on Bruce Wayne into a story of obsessively dedicated professional criminals and the people who try to catch them.  With more gadgets and a key to the dress-up box.

That may seem inordinately daft to some readers – why is he wasting his obvious talents on Batman when he could be exploring the territory that he brought to the screen in “Memento”? – but the seriousness and grounding that he brings to this character and this world feels just right to me.

If nothing else, he’s managed to almost wipe this rather terrible memory from my mind and for that, I thank him.

 

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