Friday 20th July. It may not seem that relevant to you or I, but it should. For this Friday, the latest instalment in Christopher Nolan’s revamp of the Batman films flaps into the cinema.
The Dark Knight Rises will hit big screens up and down the country to a level of expectancy not seen since the last Harry Potter film. Only this time it is not children quivering with anticipation, but grown men. With details dripped into the public realm only via the occasional new trailer, the wait has seemed endless. However it is nearly over, and here are some reasons why you should be dashing off to your nearest (or biggest) cinema as fast as your little trotters can carry you…
- Christopher Nolan
It’s astonishing to think that, just ten years ago, England’s own Christopher Nolan was just about to pitch his idea for a renovation of the Batman series to Warner Bros. His second “Hollywood” film (Al Pacino-led Insomnia) had just come out and he had big ideas for the franchise. Since then, he has (even Batman-aside) released a global blockbuster in 2009’s Inception and created one of the most under-rated films in recent memory in the form of The Prestige. All of this by the age of 41.
It’s tempting to fall into clichés like “visionary” and “genius”, but the fact of the matter is that few directors in history have made the step up from small to big budget films with the speed, ease and innovation that Nolan has. These days, his name is enough to sell a film. Not many can say that.
- The previous two films
Pre-Batman Begins, the franchise was a laughing stock. Batman Forever may have been just about salvaged by Jim Carrey’s Riddler, but everyone involved in 1997’s Batman & Robin deserves, in no uncertain terms, to be rounded up and shot in front of their families. From Arnie’s execrable Mr Freeze, to George Clooney’s woeful Batman and the astonishing decision to put big rubber nipples on the batsuit it was a disaster. The film led to many critics proclaiming the Batman series to be dead and buried.
It took a serious effort to breathe life back into the caped crusader, and the path that Nolan has led Bruce Wayne down draws parallels with Casino Royale’s reanimation of the James Bond series. Like 007, a hero that was supposed to be dark and sinister had become a cartoonish parody of his former self. The answer was, in both cases, to go back to where it all started and re-establish the character. In both cases, it has been a roaring success. Batman Begins was a fantastic film, but even after that, no-one could have predicted just how good the follow-up The Dark Knight would be. A brilliant plot, excellent acting performances and best of all, a phenomenal bad guy. It is not far from being the perfect movie. With two films of such quality already made, the third and final one comes from a fine pedigree.
In a world where everything from Homeland, to Men In Black, to Saw and Paranormal Activity is a stream of loose ends and potential sequels, it is nice to know that this film is going to offer a conclusion. Nolan has said that this is the last in a trilogy, so I’m looking forward to seeing a film where the end is the end. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to squeeze a sequel out of the Diary of Anne Frank these days.
- The actors involved
Nolan certainly can’t be accused of disloyalty and the cast of Dark Knight Rises reads like a “greatest hits” of his previous works (albeit lacking the sensational Di Caprio, but we’ll excuse him that…). Whether previous stars of the Batman series (Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, etc) or alumni from his other films (Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the cast is looking extremely promising. Hardy in particular was exceptional in Inception, and his performance as main protagonist Bane could shape the movie in as profound a way as Heath Ledger’s star-turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
- The secrecy surrounding the project
In this age of Wikileaks and spoilers, it seems like nothing is safe from internet saboteurs. All it takes is one geek to make a discovery and the Twittersphere is alight with it. However, like Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises has remained on commendable lockdown. The only sources for internet speculation on the plot have been the strategically released teaser trailers, while there are two characters in the film (John Blake and Miranda Tate) who not even the most light-deprived comic nerd knows the role of. With closure guaranteed, god knows what the ending will provide. It’s not impossible that Bane will just kick his fucking head in… Who knows?
- It’s not in 3D
3D once possessed a sort of mystic novelty. You used to be able to go to the Trocadero and watch specially-made films that were designed to show off the technology. Films where the content was entirely secondary to the aesthetics. Then Avatar happened. Suddenly everything had to be in 3D. The novelty has well and truly gone. The fact that The Great Gatsby, which is essentially a period drama, is coming out in 3D later this year just goes to show how unnecessary and absurd this obsession is.
Fortunately Christopher Nolan agrees. The Dark Knight Rises has been shot in IMAX, as its predecessors were, rather than the blunter pictures used for 3D. It will be refreshing and welcome not to be handed some ridiculous spectacles on entry to the cinema…
- Christopher Tookey has given it a bad review
Christopher Tookey, of the Daily Mail, is quite simply the worst critic of any art form in the country. He’s the sort of pseudo-pretentious arse who will praise some arty guff to the high heavens while discrediting any vaguely entertaining film on principle as he seems to think it beneath him. Tookey gave the Dark Knight Rises a mere 2 stars out of 5 on Tuesday. This is excellent news.
Normally, going to the cinema for summer blockbusters carries the additional disappointment of missing out on some nice summer weather. That doesn’t appear to be a problem this year… You probably won’t even squint when you leave.
So, Friday is the day. Clear your calendar. Pre-order your popcorn. Prepare the pick-and-mix… For the 20th July is the day the Dark Knight Rises. From all the evidence, you don’t want to miss out.
by Harry Harland