Ror Reviews: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Blu-ray (Film & Special Features)

On December 4th, the final part of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy will be available to own on home release, and we've got hold of it a little early for review. So do I stick by my initial 5 Star verdict? Click on to find out..

The Dark Knight Rises was a big hit with both fans and critics, but there are those that weren't happy with certain elements, and then those that dismiss the movie outright. But that's always been the way with Christopher Nolan's Bat-flicks - I would assume that if you were considering a home release purchase, you must be a fan, in which case I'm talking to you.

8 years after the events of The Dark Knight we find Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) a broken shell of a man. He's a recluse, only conversing with Alfred (Michael Caine), until he encounters Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) a highly skilled cat-burglar. Kyle robs him of his late Mother's pearls, and something else, something that kick-starts the story and sets Wayne/Batman on a collision course with the unholy terror, Bane. Aiding him are his old friends Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), as well as a couple of new faces in idealistic young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a new love interest in Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). But, as his faithful friend Alfred warns him when he decides to put on the cape and cowl again, has he underestimated just how powerful and committed Bane really is?

There's quite a bit of plot - arguably not all needed - here which I'm sure I don't need to go into, but the basic story is a simple one well told. Very well told, in fact it might be Nolan's most cohesively structured narrative yet. The pacing is spot on, although one or two scenes do feel a bit rushed. Wally Phister's cinematography is second to none, and the Blu-ray conversion does it justice. The sound is also impeccable. Nolan has also definitely improved in the action/fight choreography department. That first clash between Batman and Bane is simply incredible - despite fanboy griping about Batman's fighting style. But these movies have never been about action and spectacle first and foremost, they work so well because of the characters and the time we are given to get to know them properly. Some say Nolan's Batman movies lack heart, and while there is undoubtedly a coldness to how the stories unfold, I disagree completely -- particularly with this final installment.

Here Christian Bale gives his best performance of the three movies, hands down. He takes charge of the usual stuff (action, charm, general Bat-manning) better than ever, but it's the scenes showing a side to Bruce Wayne we haven't encountered before -- ones shared with the great Michael Caine in particular -- that he really shines in. He has the usual level of excellent support from Oldman and Freeman too, but what about these controversial (at least for comic fans) cast additions?

Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway are both brilliant in this movie, in fact Hathaway threatens to run away with it altogether. Her Selina Kyle (never referred to as Catwoman) is crafty, sexy and most importantly adds a much needed sense of fun and playfulness to the proceedings. If anything my only gripe with her was that she wasn't in it enough. And then we come to Bane. Let's face it, no villain was ever going to compete with the character of The Joker for a start, he is the greatest comic book villain in history for a reason. Add to that the late Heath Ledger's incredible performance and I really don't think anyone could match up. That being said, Hardy gives it a damn good go. Acting from behind a steel muzzle which obscures most of his acting tools was never going to be easy, but he makes it work. A less interesting character than The Joker for sure, and one who's villainous motivations are a lot more conventional. But what he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in sheer brutality, and that much maligned voice? For me it was creepy and very effective -- even if I couldn't understand every single word! Yes, I'm afraid that old chestnut came into play in theaters, and here again in a couple of scenes. Joseph Gordon Levitt is also on top form as Blake, bringing humanity, decency, and probably a bit more physicality than you might be expecting to the story.

If there's a weak link, I'm afraid it's Cotillard. She's very good, but just doesn't have enough to do to make a real impact. And I'm sure we all know at thsi stage that her final scene in the movie is, well, pretty terrible!

Nolan was under a lot of pressure to deliver after the critical and commercial juggernaut that was The Dark Knight, and he has succeeded. Is it better? I really don't know, but the point is it is a worthy follow up, and a more than satisfying ending to the trilogy. I will echo a few other reviews by saying whoever reboots Batman - whether they deliver a more faithful interpretation or not - is going to have their work cut out.

Special Features

We know how Christopher Nolan is with his special features. He's not a fan of of any additional scenes or extended cuts, and we have no director's commentary either - straight away that is a big disappointment, expected or not. Fortunately what we do get goes some way to making up for it. The documentaries "Ending The Knight" and "The Batmobile" make for a fascinating watch, the former in particular providing an intriguing insight into the production. The 12 production diary shorts - some of which we've featured here - are also excellent, and In addition to some more cool character profiles, we have the usual trailers, art galleries etc. The Dark Knight Rises is a must buy on Blu-ray anyway, and is padded out with some great extras, but if that was all you were going to purchase it for, I'd think twice.

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