As The Dark Knight Rises for the last time, so the BFI IMAX rises to the occasion for the final hurrah
WARNING: There are no spoilers. Nope, not a one. This is a safe place, I promise.
I tossed aside my covers, rolled onto my side, and opened my eyes. It had been a restless night, partly due to the sudden summer heat and partly due to my barely containable anticipation for what was almost within my sights. Finally, the day that I was going to watch The Dark Knight Rises had arrived, at the BFI IMAX no less, the largest screen in Britain, and thankfully without any of that bloody cumbersome 3D (it’s never much joy wearing glasses atop glasses). Up until then, I’d managed by some miracle to avoid all trailers, sneak peeks, publicity spots, or spoilers, ensuring my viewing experience would be untarnished – I went in with as open a mind as is possible, with just Batman Begins and The Dark Knight nostalgically replaying in the background.
And so there I sat at the back of the auditorium, just about vaguely aware of my friends’ presences, staring intently at that mammoth screen. I patiently and silently waited for the trailers to end – “hmm, the Total Recall remake seems interesting, oh dear, The Hobbit looks rubbish, ooh, a new James Bond film” – and then it happened. The film began.
An empty black screen welcomed us, slowly broken by small but significant cracks of ice – and so the underlying motif was set. What ensued was 165 minutes of pure, unadulterated, celluloid escapism. I was enraptured from the start, completely immersed in this world set eight years since the last. Director Christopher Nolan seamlessly hurls the viewer back into this fictional metropolis, with understated reminders of the last two films elegantly interspersed throughout. A framed photo of Rachel Dawes takes its place on Bruce Wayne’s desk or lightning quick flashes of Two-Face fill the screen. These reminders never feel overly explanatory, a testament to the expectation of an intelligent, knowing audience, but are just rightly timed for the moment.
Nolan succeeds best, however, at achieving balance, delivering exactly what the audience wants without compromising on quality. At once, he conjures into life characters with emotional pull, a tightly written storyline, magnificent visuals and stunning city panoramas, as well as a truly fearsome villain. As with any beloved story, introducing four new characters played by previously uninvolved actors requires some work; audiences must be convinced they belong, convinced that their entry into this established world is easy and fluid, and not simple add-ons. Yet again, Nolan demonstrates mastery in this vein. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of Blake as a young police officer with strong morals and ideals is applause-worthy, while Anne Hathaway teases and beguiles in her role as the elusive Selina Kyle (or Catwoman, though this is never overtly referenced). Marion Cotillard as Miranda is a beautiful and welcome presence on screen, one whose importance is not to be underestimated, while Bane, played by Tom Hardy, undoubtedly takes centre stage. He is a fierce warrior with might, tenacity, and a mask worthy of a Hannibal Lector and Shredder lovechild; a commendable adversary for Batman.
Alongside the obvious pulse-racing and squeal-inducing choreographed action, Nolan impresses with some of his more stripped back scenes. A highly charged, emotion-filled exchange between Bruce and Alfred springs to mind, notable to me for its use of silence as its backing track. Where a lesser director may have felt compelled to coerce feeling by shoving some rousing violins on top, nothing but the words took precedence here with the simple power of the verbal shining out. The effect is one of stark reality and so the audience shares in the characters’, almost touchable, pain. This style is mirrored again later in the first gruelling fight scene between Batman and Bane, forcing viewers to hear the impact of every landed punch and the cracking of every bone.
As the film drew to a close after those intense two hours and 45 minutes, which seemed to fly by in an instant, the whole room sat in stunned awe for a second, before breaking out into applause. The audience felt as I felt, and I felt as they felt. Once outside the IMAX, under the sunshine, having caught our breath and composed ourselves, my friend suddenly and emphatically proclaimed: “This is the greatest film trilogy of all time!” I don’t know if this was a genuine statement of believed truth or just the outcome of some emotional overspill, but the child of the fantastic within me can’t help but tend towards this view too. It is certainly easy to see how effortlessly it slaps other comic book films, such as Marvel’s X-Men and Spiderman trilogies, right in the balls.
The Dark Knight Rises delivers in ways I could not have expected. Though not without some small, silly plot holes, which I’m sure will make their rounds onto those ‘omg, look at all these continuity errors’ shows, the film is by far the best I’ve seen this year. This was not a mere Hollywood movie; it was a film and an immersive experience, and I am gutted it has all come to an end. But oh, what an end it was.
By the way, quick spoiler alert: Catwoman dies.
Nah, I’m only kidding.
Or am I?
Image from: http://blogs.sundaymercury.net/anorak-city/2012/07/holy-trinity-batman-the-dark-k.html
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.