It seems that Christopher Nolan has dispensed with any notions of calling The Dark Knight a Batman film, and that is not surprising given the relative lack of screen time afforded to the caped crusader (or is that Superman?) in this the third of what is hopefully only a trilogy.
It's not that I didn't like it, more that three films is enough and usually two too many in most cases. Despite this and other minor quibbles, The Dark Knight Rises (not Batman) is an enjoyable yarn which sees our hero called back into action after several years in recluse at his enormous house. This is because Tom Hardy has turned up playing the part of a quite manic villain called Bane. At this point I couldn't get the term Bane v Wayne out of my head, but I pressed on manfully. Even when I heard Bane's voice I bravely refused to give up on proceedings. Bane wears a mask which helps him breathe, owing to some facial injury which may or may not have been very well explained in the lengthy establishing phase of the film. Yet the voice, coupled with the mask, make him sound and look a bit like a Darth Vader parody, and if there is one thing in film that I don't have a sense of humour about it is Darth Vader. Vader is the greatest baddie in film history bar none. You can keep your Michael Corleone aswell. And the Star Wars theft doesn't end there, as Liam Neeson turns up at one point as a wise old sage offering insight to someone about something. Mercifully, there are no light sabres.
But Bane isn't looking to rule the galaxy far, far away anyway. His mission is two-fold but rather conflicting and therefore possibly self-defeating. On the one hand he wants to stuff it up the rich people of Gotham City for their decadence, overthrowing them in the process, but on the other hand he wants to detonate a nuclear device which would blow the whole city to Buggery and back. If he has a plan for how he is going to escape the carnage himself then I'm not totally clear on what it is. And besides I just can't get past the voice and the mask. Get your own villain Nolan.
Romantic interest is provided by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (she's actually a burgler called Selina who's sole motivation is to get as far away as possible as quickly as possible with as much cash as possible) and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a rich bitch who helps keep Bruce Wayne afloat when his company more or less collapses following an unlikely raid on the stock exchange by our man Bane. He is also able to arrange for an entire American football field to crumble piece by piece in a brilliantly over the top scene, the best thing about which is that the man carrying the ball merely carries on running, reaches the endzone and turns around to investigate what all that noise behind him might have been.
And another thing about Bane, while we're on the subject, I couldn't help but think of McBain from The Simpsons every time he came on screen. You know the one, the Arnie parody? If only Bane (and Wayne once he dons the cape, for that matter) was as easy to understand as Arnie I might have got a little more to grips with the finer points of the plot.
Batman (sorry Christopher) regulars Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman provide their usual steady turns also, as we move towards a quite breathtaking and undeniably exciting climax. Can Bane's demented plot be stopped or are the citizens of Gotham (including the poor children) doomed to either explode or die slowly from radiation poisoning? You'll have to go and see it if you want to find out but I can, despite my disparaging tones, heartily recommend that you do so. The Dark Knight is fun, frantic, folly, and what could be better than that for a Tuesday night?