At the Movies - The Dark Knight Rises - Nolan delivers a tour de force

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I would have waited 40 years, never mind four to see ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (‘TDKR’).

The film is likely to be the third and final instalment of the Christopher Nolan (‘The Prestige’ and ‘Inception’) directed franchise.

TOM HARDY as Bane in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller 'THE DARK KNIGHT RISES,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM and � DC Comics

TOM HARDY as Bane in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller 'THE DARK KNIGHT RISES,' a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM and � DC Comics

Call me mad, sad or both but I was one of the several hundred who dragged themselves out of their bed at 4a.m. to attend an early morning screening of the movie at the Brunswick Moviebowl on Friday. Who knew popcorn and Diet Coke could taste so good at 5a.m.?

The previous two movies, ‘Batman Begins’ (2005) and ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) did not disappoint so as ‘TDKR’ was being touted as Nolan’s grand finale, expectations were extremely high.

There’s no easier way to say it than ‘TDKR’ is slick, stylish and utterly satisfying. It’s perhaps the most enjoyable and entertaining of the three Nolan films and the final third ties everything up perfectly without it feeling rushed, forced or contrived.

London-born Nolan is a director who would have fitted right in with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick in the sense that he is equally devoted to what a movie looks and sounds like.

Nolan’s use of sound in ‘Inception’ was like a hark back to movies from the 50s and 60s and ‘TDKR’ was certainly no different. From the sound effects to the brilliantly composed score by Hans Zimmer, the sound in ‘TDKR’ was simply outstanding.

Visually, Nolan has delivered his greatest movie to date. The fight sequences, chases and explosions are without doubt some of the best ever to be seen in a cinema.

Whilst ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight’ were films about Batman (Christian Bale - ‘The Prestige’, ‘The Machinist’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’ - pictured above), ‘TDKR’ is essentially about Bruce Wayne’s struggle to find peace.

‘TDKR’ is set eight years after the death of Harvey Dent and the demise of the Joker. Gotham City is relatively peaceful and Bruce Wayne has turned into a recluse who rarely ventures outside of the large Wayne Manor.

Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred, (Michael Caine) remains at his side and when mysterious mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy - ‘Bronson’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Warrior’ - pictured left) shows up Wayne is forced to dust down his leather cape and get back in the game.

Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane is so skilled and sinister that it could be argued that he surpasses Heath Ledger’s Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’.

Bane is evil beyond belief and thinks nothing of crushing a man’s skull with his hands.

Bane’s appearances on screen are amongst the most enjoyable the movie has to offer and the music used to announce his arrival is outstanding.

Admittedly, when I read that Anne Hathaway (‘The Princess Diaries’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ had been cast as Selena Kyle/Cat Woman I rolled my eyes; I honestly didn’t think she’d be up to the task. However, Hathaway is excellent and her portrayal as the not to be trusted jewel thief is yet another jewel in the movie’s rather twinkling crown.

The film’s ending is without doubt immensely satisfying and not at all implausible. All of a sudden you realise that you are not watching a stand alone third film but instead it brings, what appeared like incidental scenes from the first two films, together and makes them relevant and poignant.

The screenplay was written by both Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan. The brothers’ script is a welcome change and a reminder that big blockbuster movies can operate with a well written and wonderfully woven story.

You know it’s been money well spent when two hours and 44 minutes later you are planning a second viewing.

‘TDKR’ is and was the most anticipated movie of 2012 and Nolan should certainly be nominated for an Oscar.

Like a special three course meal, ‘‘TDKR’ is the satisfying third and final course but those with an insatiable appetite will almost certainly find themselves wanting more.

Verdict - 5/5 - ‘TDKR’ is so much more than just a comic book movie. Thematically, it understands the current state of the world and apathy felt between the ruling elite and the average man on the street - it’s because of this that ‘TDKR’ has so much relevance. It’s entertaining, mind blowing and excels both in terms of sound and visuals. Bale’s Batman, Hardy’s Bane and Hathaway’s Cat Woman are outstanding and the grand finale should bring with it unrivalled satisfaction.