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Dark Knight Rises, The (DQ)


Stars: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Burn Gorman, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Cillian Murphy, Aiden Gillen, Juno Temple, Thomas Lennon

Director: Christopher Nolan

The absolutely terrific last hour of this completion of Nolan's Batman trilogy does a decent job of obscuring the fact that the first 100 minutes isn't actually all that good, and in fact may try your patience more than a little. Once bad guy Bane (Hardy) sets out to destroy Gotham City, though, and Batman (Bale) escapes from the distant pit to which his enemy has consigned him, things really get going. And the last reel has a twist that few will see coming.

It's eight years since Batman, believed to have murdered the 'noble' - but in reality demented - Harvey Dent, disappeared, and a lame and taciturn Bruce Wayne wanders round his mansion. accompanied by his, er, batman Alfred (Caine, overacting atrociously). 'I never wanted you to come back to Gotham, ' complains the old retainer. 'I knew there was nothing for you here but pain and tragedy.'

Alfred's words are truer than he knows once, Bane, wearing an even spikier version of the Hannibal Lecter mask, traps Gotham's entire police force below ground and takes over the city. Batman takes on Bane too soon and, being ring rusty, like Stallone in Rocky III gets his butt whupped - and is consigned to the aforementioned pit, from which there is reputedly no escape.

Motives aren't much clearer than the dialogue here but, although perhaps 30% of Batman's and Bane's words are indecipherable (and the demonic drum score doesn't help), it doesn't seriously interfere with the progression of the story, which climaxes in a race against time to stop a nuclear explosion, with both Bane and Batman producing unexpected allies at the 11th hour.

Hathaway - 'There's a storm coming, Mr Wayne' - creates a fierce Catwoman, but Cotillard more than holds her own as a businesswoman taking over the Wayne corporation. Best performance of all, though, comes from the ever-reliable Oldman as the city's beleaguered chief of police, who knows the truth about Batman's past if not his identity.

If we seem to be treating our superheroes more seriously these days, that's not a bad thing for the impact of Nolan's film, though its elephantine length can't justify the limited strength of the story. Bale is suitably tormented as the caped crusader, and Hardy perfectly OK in a role that could have been played by any pumped-up young character star. For all its flaws, the film remains thundering entertainment for a mass audience.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
164 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Jul 2012