The Big Short Review: Wall Street Warriors


Director: Adam McKay

Writers: Adam McKay, Charles Randolph

Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

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Release date: January 14th, 2016

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 130 minutes


 

3½/5

Review: The Big Short

Knight of Cups Review: Hollywood Horror-scope


Director: Terrence Malick

Writer: Terrence Malick

Stars: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Brian Dennehy

knight-of-cups-poster


Release date: February 8th, 2015

Distributors: Broad Green Pictures, Ascot Elite Entertainment Group, Pinema, Sun Distribution

Country: USA

Running time: 118 minutes


 

1½/5

Review: Knight of Cups

Exodus: Gods & Kings Review: Anglo Apocalypse


Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Steven Zaillian, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine

Stars: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley


Release date: December 4th, 2014

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Countries: USA, UK, Spain

Running time: 150 minutes


 

3/5

Best part: Bale and Edgerton.

Worst part: The sluggish pace.

A man named Christian plays Judaism’s greatest prophet – now that’s irony! Over the past few months, Ridley Scott’s latest behemoth, Exodus: Gods & Kings, has caused significant controversy. Its casting decisions sent internet comment sections into overdrive, with Caucasian thespians – including Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Aaron Paul – embodying ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and Hebrew slaves via spray tans, wigs, costumes, and eye-liner. Sure, there may have been some ‘Hollywood pretty’ people running around this period. However, the production’s checkered history and questionable choices severely damage the immersion effect.

Christian Bale as Moses.

In a press junket, Scott inappropriately claimed the casting of middle-eastern actors would fundamentally stall the project. Yes, this is how Hollywood works today. However, this, coming from one of Tinseltown’s most prestigious filmmakers, is unprofessional. So, forgetting about ethical quarrels for a moment, how does Exodus: Gods & Kings fare? Short answer: Exodus? More like Meh-xodus (too damn easy)! On paper, this project has several  alluring qualities befitting of big-budget entertainment. Ambitiously, the movie hopes to draw people back to the big screen and the Book of Exodus. Indeed, the story of Moses leading 600, 000 Israelite slaves to the promised land from Egyptian rulers warrants significant discussion. The story, known by many as: “that ‘parting the Red Sea’ one”, deserves many adaptations. After all, religion and entertainment mean different things to different people. Scott’s version hurls us directly into the action, for better or worse. We meet Moses (Bale), in 1300 B.C., as a war-crushing, peace-welding general. Moses, fighting the Hittite army, saves his brother/Prince Rameses(Edgerton)’s life (as prophesied) whilst crafting a flawless battle strategy. Moses, favoured by King Seti I (John Turturro), is sent to Pithom to resolve issues between Hebrew slaves and their masters. Rubbing Viceroy Hegep (Ben Mendelsohn) the wrong way, Moses is closely monitored. grizzly slave Joshua (Paul) and elder Nun (Ben Kingsley) inform Moses of his true origins. He, banished from Memphis by the royal family, marries Zipporah (Maria Valverde) and conceives Gershom. God – appearing as a boy (Isaac Andrews) – and the burning bush demand Moses’ cooperation.

Joel Edgerton vs the Red Sea.

Famed director Cecil B. DeMille adapted this tale in 1923 and 1956, calling both The Ten Commandments. Obviously, Charlton Heston is no less Anglo than Bale. However, that version was, literally and figuratively, bigger than Ben-Hur. The sweeping majesty of DeMille’s second shot overshadowed said troubling elements. Sadly, Scott’s slick yet shallow remake/adaptation pales in comparison. His gold-and-chrome-covered extravaganza delivers everything you’d expect from the master historical-epic filmmaker. However, Exodus: Gods & Kings has no idea what it’s doing, saying, or even thinking. It suffers similar issues as his polarising 2010 Robin Hood. Both historical-epics muddy the waters between reasonable explanation and divine intervention/deus ex machina. Invested in every detail, he wants us to dive headlong into the narrative. Convinced 110% of this gargantuan story’s worth, Scott constructs meticulous analyses of each chapter. Pulling his people through the mud, Moses is more reasonable, complicated man than well-meaning saviour. However, before you can say: “Let my people go!”, It lifelessly charges from Moses/Rameses’ brotherhood to the Red Sea parting to Mount Sinai/Commandment carving section. Dedicating it to recently deceased filmmaker/younger brother Tony Scott, he becomes wowed by every grain of sand, speck of dust, and rule in the book. Discussing the physical, psychological, ethical, and religious ramifications, it bites off more than it can chew. Scott, obsessed with the visual aspects of Ancient Egypt, becomes lost in a (Red) sea of bright colours, flashy compositions, glorious scenic vistas, and full-on set pieces. His version – flipping from gritty character-drama to kooky sword-and-sandal-epic to pompous parable – becomes more narratively, tonally, and thematically barren than a North-African desert.

“You say that you didn’t… cause all this. You say this is not your fault. So let’s just see who’s more effective at killing: You or me.” (Rameses (Joel Edgerton), Exodus: Gods & Kings).

Ben Kingsley.

Despite the cast and crew’s best efforts, Exodus: Gods & Kings is more shiny than seminal. This Old testament walk-through delivers several  gripping set-pieces and glorious compositions. It, attempting to please multiple audiences, valiantly re-creates the story’s most  significant events. The banishment sequence reaffirms Scott and classic Hollywood’s ever-lingering glow. This sequence, drawing  emotional weight from this lifeless slog, depicts a painstaking journey from emptiness to salvation. Scott and co. put a unique spin on this age-old tale of masculinity, heroism, and brotherhood. The ten plagues sequence delivers gripping moments bolstered by sumptuous visuals and intriguing concepts. The kingdom’s science expert (Ewen Bremner) breaks everything down logically, citing the link between a blood-red Nile, frogs, flies, and locusts. In addition, the visual effects and production design crews  construct this 40-minute sequence vigorously. Fusing violence, stakes, and visual flourishes, this middle-third-spanning event is worth the admission cost. Scott’s scintillating world-building techniques help crack the whip. The first action sequence, though derivative of Gladiator‘s opening set-piece, establishes the movie’s scope and style. Developing Moses and Rameses as fearless warriors, this sequence separates the men – and kings – from the boys. Scott, unlike most action filmmakers, draws brilliant performances out of ensemble casts. Bale and Edgerton, matching one another in consistency and enthusiasm, excel despite the controversy. Paul, Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver – overcoming wholly underdeveloped characters – add to the grit-and-blood-stained aura.

Like preceding bible-sized flop Noah, Exodus: Gods & Kings is a bizarre, laughable, yet ambitious re-telling. Modernising one of religion’s most prescient and intriguing stories, Bale and Edgerton save this sword-and-sandal adventure. Despite its valiant attempts, this adaptation appeals to everyone and no one simultaneously. Extending an already expansive tale, Scott walks a shaky line between hyper-realism and full-blown fantasy. Like Moses himself, Scott shuffles from determination to obsession to degradation. It’s his best effort since American Gangster, but – given Robin Hood, Prometheus, The Counselor, Body of Lies, and A Good Year – that’s a low, jewel-encrusted hurdle.

Verdict: A visually impressive yet frustrating biblical-epic.

Franchise Fix – The Dark Knight Trilogy


Well, as far as superhero-action movies go, we have come to this point in our epic saga. Unquestionably, this genre has reached its proverbial peak. Certain entries, defying extreme expectations, have taken it upon themselves to stand out. How are they different exactly? They, above all else, have soared, dipped, punched, and stretched to elevate themselves above the meandering competition. So, what separates a Captain America from a Ghost Rider? It all starts with the seed of an idea, before growing it into an all-encompassing entity.

Nowadays, forced to pay ridiculous ticket prices, the average film-goer determines each superhero flick’s chances of success. To succeed, you need to deliver an action flick people will go see more than once. However, the other side of the coin is one of torrential, Twitter-fuelled critical comments and poor box-office performances. Of course, top spot on the superhero franchise podium belongs to the Dark Knight trilogy. Despite varying in quality between efforts, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s trilogy series has sparked a wave of darker, meatier blockbusters. With that said, each instalment delivers significant highs and debilitating lows. Like the caped crusader, however, they all manage to pick themselves up.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

As the highly anticipated franchise capper, The Dark Knight Rises had a helluva lot to live up to. Resting on Nolan and co.’s previous successes, the final product had the potential to be the best of the series. However, with rumours, videos, and images threatening to spoil the movie’s intricate plot, it seemed destined to continue the trend of underwhelming third instalments in superhero franchises. Fittingly, after its mega-successful release, this instalment was met with polarising reactions from critics, fans, and common film-goers.

Some people, looking past minor quarrels, saw fit to compliment Nolan for completing his game-changing franchise. Sadly, however, many people felt the opposite. Criticising villain Bane’s vocal patterns, the leaps in logic, and egregious run-time, this instalment’s detractors nearly threw it into the Spider-Man 3/X-Men: The Last Stand/Blade: Trinity pit of doom. Thanks to Nolan’s seminal final Batman flick’s mixed response, The Dark Knight Rises comes off as the trilogy’s third best instalment.

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Bane vs. Batman vs. Gotham’s soul.

With that said, I said “third best” and not “worst” for a reason. With minor plot-holes and character faults getting in many people’s way, the movie delivers more-than-enough positives. Nolan, at the very least, should be admired for pulling off such a gargantuan trilogy capper. In fact, the movie, thanks to its emotional heft and stunning performances, is more dystopian drama than superhero extravaganza. With Bane’s spectacular introduction pitting man against machine, this instalment seemed destined to follow charismatic characters through a dire journey. Of course, despite Bane’s raw power and regal presence, you can’t go past Christian Bale’s scintillating turn as a dilapidated Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Providing his best Caped Crusader performance, Bale’s energy and purposeful mannerisms propel his extraordinary character arc here. With an 8-year hiatus, Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Alfred’s betrayal, and Bane’s might to deal with, Wayne’s raw determination pushes him ahead of this instalment’s other well-drawn heroes and villains.

2. Batman Begins

Before the era of reboots, reboots, and more reboots, one origin tale took it upon itself to change the system. Batman Begins, introducing the average cinema-goer to a sickeningly dark version of the Caped Crusader, did its job in delivering something fresh and original for its time. In an age of sugar-coated blockbusters, this reboot opened the doors to several superhero origin movies willing to embrace their characters’ first ventures into crime fighting and personal discoveries.

The narrative, as usual for superhero reboots, kicks off with a younger version of the titular figure. Refreshingly so, his friendship with family friend Rachel Dawes kicks off this transcendent and touching superhero-action flick. With a child’s innocence smashing into said child’s greatest fears, the opening delivers an appropriate leap off the blocks. From there, Batman Begins falls into a pit of despair and anger. With a thirty-something Wayne (Christian Bale) meeting wise nobleman Ras Al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the lead’s journey transforms him from a rebellious fighter into an intriguing symbol of hope.

Batman Begins – the Caped Crusader’s true origin story.

Tackling several  weighty issues, Batman Begins looks into its own soul and examines Batman’s undying aura. With an arresting story wrestling with a claustrophobic atmosphere, this uncompromising thriller aims higher than whiz-bang effects and generic genre twists. From the first Batman sequence onwards, Christopher Nolan presents this fan favourite DC character as a philosophically bruised anti-hero willing to destroy anyone in his way. Like its sepia-esque colour palette, the tone pushes us into each gloriously dour setting. Fusing his Memento/Insomnia darkness with the comic series’ free-flowing nature, Batman Begins threw Nolan into another realm of fame and possibility.

Despite all this, it’s the cast members involved which divert Batman Begins from the Summer tent-pole blur.  Rounded out by Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy, the movie’s talented ensemble brought Oscar-calibre vibes to this intensifying superhero adventure. With movies like Man of Steel and The Incredible Hulk borrowing ideas and sequences from Nolan’s first Bat-flick, Batman Begins, 9 years on, still stands up to intense scrutiny.

1. The Dark Knight

I know, it’s a complete cliché to place The Dark Knight on top of any kind of ‘Best of…’ list. I’ll admit, my extreme infatuation with this feature might be clouding my judgement. However, I think I speak for a helluva lot of people when I proclaim this action-drama to be the best action movie of the past 10 years. Up there with the likes of There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men, this superhero flick is an instant classic that future generations will discover and fall in love with the way we all did. The Dark Knight, Nolan’s magnum opus, is a triumph on every level.

Thanks to scintillating action sequences and pitch-perfect performances, this sequel proves itself worthy of repeat viewings and intense analysis. From the opening back heist sequence onwards, this superhero flick establishes itself as an unbeatable and transcendent. Despite soaring above and beyond the competition, the movie intrinsically examines the evils of good and the strengths of evil. As our characters stand on a knife’s edge, Gotham City’s newest resident seeks to turn everything inside out. Painting each character in shades of grey, The Dark Knight matches crime-thrillers like The Departed and Heat point for point.

Heath Ledger’s momentous portrayal of the Joker.

Of course, credit belongs to Nolan for elevating the genre from its cartoonish roots to a more mature and meaningful place. taking a real-world approach to the Cape Crusader, The Dark Knight  amicably discusses the consequences of vigilantism. Is Batman doing right by the citizens or his own sense of valour? The movie’s greatest moments belong to Batman’s fight against the Joker (Heath Ledger) and Harvey Dent/Two Face (Aaron Eckhart). With Gotham’s tug of war becoming increasingly violent, The Dark Knight lets loose on our society’s fragile world view. Wayne’s ego, now interlocking with his motivations, seeks to push him towards hanging up the cape and cowl. Establishing connections between Wayne, Alfred (Caine), and Lucius Fox (Freeman), the quieter moments cement this movie’s place in the annals of blockbuster cinema.

Despite delivering thorough questions and answers, The Dark Knight dons a core entertainment value at opportune moments. Blissfully so, the action sequences reach sky-high levels of fun. The Bat-pod chase through Gotham ends with pure gusto and awe-inspiring technical savvy. The truck flip alone is cause for celebration. By breaking up the light and dark moments, The Dark Knight proves its own worth as a momentous turning point for blockbuster filmmaking.

Ps. check out this video, it sums up everything awesome and immaculate about this series! Enjoy!

American Hustle Review – ABSCAM Anarchy


Director: David O. Russell 

Writers: Eric Singer, David O. Russell 

Stars: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner


Release date: December 13th, 2013

Distributors: Columbia Pictures, Entertainment Film Distributors, Roadshow Entertainment

Country: USA

Running time: 138 minutes


 

4½/5

Best part: The entertaining performances. 

Worst part: The alienating plot turns.

In one of American Hustle‘s more pivotal scenes, Christian Bale’s Character Irving Rosenfeld asks Bradley Cooper’s character Richie DiMaso the movie’s most important question: “Who’s the master? The Painter? Or the forger?”. Despite being the trailer’s most valuable moment, the query still efficiently sums up this crime-drama’s raw edginess. American Hustle, safely landing into Academy-Award-contention territory, is one of 2013’s most puzzling yet entertaining movies. Its top-flight cast, enigmatic plot, and dizzying set pieces deliver multiple rewards.

Christian Bale & Bradley Cooper.

Despite presenting itself as a “For Your Consideration…” Oscar trap, American Hustle is an honest and adept crime-drama. Today, we rarely become witness to such ground-breaking yet kinetic movies. Despite facing stiff competition in this year’s Oscar race, American Hustle wouldn’t care if it won, lost, or drew. Acclaimed director David O. Russell (The FighterSilver Linings Playbook) is obviously his own man. Given his fiery on-set temper and inspiring talent, O. Russell achieves the near impossible – delivering a stylish, convoluted, and enlightening crime drama free from pretentiousness and overblown moments. Despite my glowing recommendation of American Hustle, I understand the movie’s already-discomforting-yet-minor backlash. It’s certainly not for everyone. At least, I can try to win people over by describing the movie’s terrific yet dicey plot. Rosenfeld (Bale) is a despicable businessman running several companies within New Jersey. With his dry-cleaning and glass-installation businesses in tip-top condition, he becomes a slimy yet clever small-town hero. However, Rosenfeld’s world is rocked by seductive beauty Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). With Prosser becoming Rosenfeld’s mistress/business partner, their greatest plans kick into gear. Embezzling large funds from gullible investors, the terrible twosome expand their vast riches. Thanks to Prosser’s alter ego ‘Lady Edith Greensly’, their schemes and romance blossom into something dreadfully beautiful (or beautifully dreadful, it’s difficult to tell). However, Rosenfeld is bewitched by his bi-polar wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and adrenaline-and-cocaine-fuelled FBI agent DiMaso (Cooper). Forced into the FBI’s clutches, Rosenfeld, Prosser, and DiMaso forcefully work together to take down corrupt yet well-meaning Camden Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner).

Amy Adams.

Amy Adams.

From there, allegiances, plans, and ideologies are warped, tortured, and eviscerated. It may seem diabolical, but the dramatic beats liven up this talky crime-drama. Depicting the late-70s’ ABSCAM scandal, American Hustle delves into the true story’s intricate webbing and most enigmatic elements. With its opening title card saying: “Some of this actually happened”, the movie pokes fun at Hollywood’s stranglehold over inspirational yet unbelievable true stories. After biting into ABSCAM’s saucy yet dangerous secrets, the movie sporadically delves into its own fantastical and larger-than-life adventure. I’ll admit, the convoluted plot-strands and alienating exposition become this cognitive structure’s most problematic elements. However, these inane moments hurriedly brush past the audience. Its most memorable moments are worth the admission cost. Here, ABSCAM’s most confusing aspects are insignificant titbits stuck in an increasingly formidable conflict. Before and after the scandal is brought up then brushed aside, the characters take control of the movie’s electrifying and alarming narrative. Within the first ten minutes, American Hustle takes us on a discomforting, sexually appealing, and comedic journey. Thanks to Rosenfeld and Prosser’s shared narration, these characters introduce and describe themselves. O. Russell, continually choosing controversy over convention, makes several brave choices within the first act. Beyond the schizophrenic narration, the narrative jumps from one influence to another. Despite the movie’s overt self-indulgence, O. Russell displays a glowing affection for such influential crime-drama directors as Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Sidney Lumet. The tonal shifts, ever-changing perspectives, and debilitating plot-turns are derived from Goodfellas and Casino. In fact, like those pulsating movies, American Hustle graciously explores the criminal mind’s most fascinating intricacies.

Jeremy Renner.

Despite the engaging narrative, the plot occasionally gets away from O. Russell and co-writer Eric Singer. Highlighting the true story’s most baffling parts, the movie locks onto its comical and distasteful characters. Despite this, the movie’s sickening comedic touches quickly launch into overdrive. With the wild characters embracing this pressing situation’s absurdity, the biting and ironic humour comes thick and fast. Stuck between rocks and hard places, these dim-witted heroes and villains bumble, wine, and cuss through every dangerous conflict. With lives and reputations at risk, insults fly across each swanky setting. In particular, Rosalyn’s nasty insults and abrasive attitude hit with gut-punch-like effect. Credit, obviously, belongs to O. Russell for the movie’s pitch-black humour and cynical outlook. Despite the punchy tone and zippy pacing, O. Russell’s work hurriedly descends into darkness and chaos. With his filmography covering the gulf war, mental illness, and fallen sporting heroes, his misanthropic perspective casts a detailed shadow over each unique project. American Hustle, his most violent and zany effort yet, illuminates similarities between 70s, post-Vietnam USA and post-economic-crisis Earth. O. Russell, giving fraudulent miscreants second chances whist looking down upon important government agencies, develops several truthful yet misguided opinions. Like Catch Me if You Can and The InformantAmerican Hustle‘s criminal/lawman conflict supports the anti-hero and flips-off the villainous yet untouchable government fat-cats. At least, O. Russell’s work says what we are all thinking. Beyond that, O. Russell bravely pokes fun at the American Dream. Deliberating on race, gender, and class, the movie makes middle class, suburban living seem like a torturous adventure. Setting household appliances, inventive schemes, and aspirations alight, American Hustle is not for the faint-hearted or ignorant.

“Did you ever have to find a way to survive and you knew your choices were bad, *but* you had to survive?” (Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), American Hustle).

Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence.

Thankfully, for less-opinionated viewers, the visuals develop a kinetic and entertaining sensory experience. Sporting elaborate costumes, hair-dos, and personalities, each character sustains exterior and interior quirks. With these characters’ schemes as outlandish as their skin-flashing outfits, the costume design lends American Hustle a pulsating and tangible sheen. In addition, each character – whether they be rich, poor, innocent or slimy – balances stupefying hair-dos atop their attractive facades. DiMaso’s perm, Rosalyn’s beehive, and Polito’s road-kill-like hairstyle are enlightening distractions. Opening with Rosenfeld pasting a bizarre toupee atop his bulbous scalp, American Hustle‘s characters are defined by styles and substance. The mis-en-scene, plastering ugly colours, swanky interior designs, and elaborate patterns across every frame, lends verisimilitude to this otherwise sketchy and kooky narrative. O. Russell, infatuated by overt 70s icons, pumps up the catchy soundtrack at opportune moments. Wings, Steely Dan, The Bee Gees, and Elton John elevate certain tension-inducing sequences. However, credit belongs to the A-list actors draped across every sizzling frame. Their determination and courageousness, tested by O. Russell’s punishing direction, pushes them through each discomforting scene. Like O. Russell’s previous efforts, the shouting matches develop each puzzle piece and flawed character. Swiftly increasing each interior setting’s temperature, the pithy dialogue and loud voices reveal each character’s ugliest qualities. Bale, carrying a belly and comb-over, transforms into a seedy, depraved, and quick-witted figure. Cooper steals his scenes as the incessant and manic agent. Adams, falling boob-first into every scene, is revelatory as the slinky yet tough mistress. Renner and Lawrence provide big laughs and immaculate performances. Meanwhile, Robert De Niro, Louis CK, Alessandro Nivola, Jack Huston, and Michael Pena contribute commendably.

With his energetic direction, elegant screenplay, and Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook alumni, O. Russell has pulled off a stunning hat-trick. Despite minor quarrels, American Hustle peels back several purposeful layers over its 2+ hour run-time. Unlike American Gangster, American Psycho, and American Pie, this crime-drama discovers that particular word’s immense ironic twang.

Verdict: A funny, scintillating, and engaging crime-drama. 

The Dark Knight Rises Review – The Final Flight


Director: Christopher Nolan

Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan

Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine


Release date: July 20th, 2012

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: USA

Running time: 165 minutes


 

5/5

Best part: Nolan’s direction.

Worst part: The leaps in logic.

With a penchant for achieving both artistic integrity and visceral entertainment with his acclaimed works, Christopher Nolan has now seemingly achieved the impossible. The Dark Knight Rises delivers on its promises, while defying impossible fan boy expectations, to create an over-long yet powerfully affecting conclusion to the Dark Knight Saga.

Christian Bale & Tom Hardy.

Set eight years after the Joker’s wrath upon Gotham City and Harvey Dent’s downfall from heroic grace, Gotham is at peace. A crippled Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is torn from its citizens through his own exile. Despite a slinky cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), hot on his trail, Wayne is still determined to rebuild his shattered company, Wayne Enterprises, and restore his family’s honour. But this promise of redemption in the eye of a first world order comes at a powerful price. Under the city, a new evil has crawled to the surface; determined to destroy its hate filled existence. Bane (Tom Hardy), a complex yet threatening psychopath  and terrorist leader, leads the strike against Gotham’s democratic order. His thirst for destruction plunges the city into  darkness, drawing the controversial yet hailed caped crusader out of the shadows to end Bane’s destruction of Gotham’s integral infrastructure.

Anne Hathaway.

Nolan has created an influential, thrilling and poignant tale of good and evil set in the confines of a city under siege. His vision is ever changing, blending together fantastical and realistic elements in an organic fashion. Nolan’s unique and constantly evolving style has developed a balance between dystopian crime-drama and artistic action cinema. The Dark Knight Rises is definitely the most formalist instalment in this already revered saga, as the grand scale of this epic masterpiece creates the climactic struggle for democracy within Gotham’s soul. This is a powerful story created by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, crossing the boundaries of modern blockbuster cinema through emotional depth, a relevant thematic structure and a truly involving and epic sense of scale. The thematic and symbolic structure is based on both Nolan’s artistic influences and the relevance of a crumbling democratic society. The destruction of economic and social order, inspired by Metropolis and The Taking of Pelham 123, is carefully examined through Bane’s madness and Catwoman’s desire for a shared socio-economic society. As a symbol of the wealthy elite in peril, Wayne must ultimately face his harshest fears to protect the citizens of Gotham. With Batman Begins symbolising the importance of fear and The Dark Knight questioning the structure of a post 9/11 society through chaos, The Dark Knight Rises creates a crumbled existence based on the relevance of social order.

“We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.” (Bane (Tom Hardy), The Dark Knight Rises).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Gary Oldman.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Gary Oldman.

The personification of all three elements here is Bane. A mythic creature born with a taste for torturous violence and a vision of ‘freedom’ within Gotham City, his violent ‘Occupy Wall Street’ based assault on Gotham’s elite social hierarchy creates a terrifying yet empathetic presence. Immersed in terrifying villainy, similarly to Heath Ledger’s Joker, Hardy is a dramatic and physical force. With a multi-layered muscular structure aiding his cold demeanour, thick accent and thirst for pain, Bane goes toe to toe with Batman, using his tortured soul to create a similar sense of anguish for Gotham’s citizens. Hardy also creates an awe-inspiring menace through brutal fighting ability. His lack of remorse and fierce physical presence creates a truly potent and symbolic battle with Batman, particularly in their first fight sequence featuring beautifully shot and creatively choreographed martial arts. Bale delivers one of his greatest performances here as the emotionally decayed anti-hero figure, particularly through poignant interaction with Michael Caine’s Alfred and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox. Hathaway commands the screen with a much needed ferocity. While Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt provide solid turns in important roles close to Wayne’s emotional separation from Gotham’s existence.

Arguably the best trilogy in the history of Hollywood cinema, Nolan has grown as a film-maker through his creation of an emotionally gripping and revered superhero saga. Through this depiction of poignant characterisation, a symbolic visual style and resonant thematic core, this truly is cinema as it’s meant to be.

Verdict: An emotionally gripping conclusion to one of modern cinema’s greatest trilogies.