Film Review: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is a triumph of contemporary Hollywood. It has set a bar that few superhero films will ever hope to reach.

Eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham city is a safer place thanks to the law enacted in the former district attorney’s name. The Batman has not been seen, and Bruce Wayne is living a recluse life holed up in Wayne Manor. A storm is coming however, one that looks to shake Batman from his retirement…

The Dark Knight Rises had big shoes to fill, given the commercial and critical success of its predecessor The Dark Knight. Thankfully Christopher Nolan’s film does not disappoint. From the very first scene, TDKR enthralls viewers. This is unrelenting, with the film absorbing viewers fully for its 164-minute duration.

Nolan’s direction is superb. Action sequences are thrilling, and the film moves along at a good pace. The third act in particular generates immense tension, with the climax a fantastic ending to both the film and the trilogy. There are moments in TDKR when it is difficult not to get swept away in the sheer exhilaration of it all.

Written by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises perfectly balances bravura action with a meaty storyline. Characters get sufficient screen time, despite the abundance of them. New characters given depth, and appear authentic. The film features characters that have appeared in previous Batman films. TDKR offers different depictions of them that completely fit in Nolan’s universe. TDKR, like the previous two films, attempts the most realistic sphere for superhero movies. In keeping with this verisimilitude, themes that feature are very contemporary and resonant concerns.

Once again, Wally Pfister’s cinematography is wonderful. The film is really worth seeing in Imax; the footage filmed in this format is incredibly impressive. Hans Zimmer’s score is memorable, and the perfect accompaniment to the sublime on screen action.

Christian Bale offers a solid and completely believable performance, reprising his role as the caped crusader. Tom Hardy is barely recogniseable as Bane, while Anne Hathaway is excellently cast as Selina Kyle. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also a highlight as police officer John Blake.

The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting end to a fantastic series of films. The film is impossible to fault. It is the perfect antithesis to the action-comedy romp of the Marvel films. Though this is most entertaining, The Dark Knight Rises is in a league of its own. At times dark, at times mesmerising, the film is wholly compelling.

Film Review: Inception

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is the best film of the year so far, and a pinnacle which all blockbusters should strive to match.

A team of specialists, led by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb, are hired by a business man to infiltrate the dreams of his rival and plant an idea; a near-impossible feat even in this world of dream extraction. Cobb hopes this last job will be the key to his way home…

Inception works on every level – it is an incredibly entertaining film. The special effects are seemless, and Wally Pfister’s cinematography is spectacular. Hans Zimmer’s score is suitably pervading, perfectly matching the tone of the on-screen action.

But perhaps the greatest achievement of Inception is the combination of interesting storytelling with slickly produced, high-octane action sequences. These scenes excel not only because they are well made, but also because there is a significant narrative that they work within.

Nolan provides his audience with a completely original screenplay, one that he wrote himself. Whilst the ideas Inception promotes have been explored in science fiction films and books before, the film nonetheless offers filmgoers an original blockbuster; a blessed relief considering much of Hollywood’s fare in the last few years.

The concept of inception (that is to say, planting an idea in someone else’s mind) is an incredibly powerful one. With so little known about dreams, Nolan is astute to capitalise on this. With its interesting plot and narrative twists, Inception provides a winning formula of on the one hand offering intellectual stimulation, whilst on the other not being too complex as to lose half the audience. The film thus retains the entertainment and accessibility to appeal to the mainstream audience, whilst giving viewers an intelligence missing from most recent blockbusters.

As ever, Nolan appears to elicit superb performances from his cast. Regular Nolan players like Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe do a great job, whilst newcomers to the fold such as DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt excel in Inception. Tom Hardy is excellent as Eames; the exposure the actor is likely to garner from this film will probably make it his wisest career move.

Inception really is this year’s definitive blockbuster, one that deserves to be seen on the big screen. It is the type of film Imax theatres were made for.