I guess this time the system worked a little differently.I was going to be away for the weekend, from Sunday but as we ususally do the film thing on Saturday, it shouldn’t have been a problem. Just that,as my son who usually watches with us was out that evening, we decided to leave it for another night. Next day I had to go away to a festival so the film would have to wait until another evening.

When I do occasionally get away to festivals and such, one of my treats is to find a cinema, the bigger the better, and watch the latest release. This time I went to Showcase Cinema Deluxe in Bristol and joined what seemed to be the total geek population for the latest in the Nolan Brothers Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.

Now, recent events meant that the film carried more tension than normal for a film and every solo viewer who shuffled past carrying a bag or wearing a long coat was perceived as a potential maniac with grudge. Anyway, the film itself, once under way,was trouble free.

It was also, more importantly,a very long but good film.

The premise, in short, is that The Batman has withdrawn from a society that has decided that he is the cause of all the problems the fictional city of Gotham faces but unbeknown to the public, he is in fact the reason why almost all crime has been wipe out from the city itself. In the previous film, The Batman decided to let the public  perceive him as the bad guy in order to protect them from consequences of hero worship. Since there is little for a hero to do in a city where all major crimes have been eliminated, the general public start questioning whether he still exists.

Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne, has also withdrawn from society, no longer a wild partying eligible bachelor, but a shabby, bearded recluse. A Howard Hughes figure to those who once selfishly relied on Wayne Manor and its bottomless finances for all their social and charitable needs.

Bruce is lured back into the cowl not by the menacing but calculating brute of Bane, but by a hired hand who he catches stealing from his safe.

The film brings back the hero/villain Catwoman as a double agent , still fiercely independent and self protecting, she maintains the sexual tension between herself and our hero in the black cape, but it is Tom Hardy’s remorselessly violent criminal mastermind Bane that steals the show. Breaking the Bat, literally, and in a twist that only adds to the pain, sentencing him to imprisonment in the same hell hole that created Bane, proves to be  a crucial if distracting side story.

As a fan of the gothic novel/comic book , I found the lack of character development behind the brutal Bane disappointing and the artistic liberty with which his main feature, a permanent mask which causes his voice however clipped and eccentric to sound eerily similar to the other arch nemesis in cinema history, Darth Vader,is explained, annoying in the extreme. Fans of the comic books will know the real reason and its connection to Bane’s brute strength. This is missed entirely here, giving no real explanation for the incredible might of Hardy’s character, the same power that crushes our hero so easily.

The film itself was a staggering though hardly noticeable three hours long which leaves me wondering if they couldn’t have perhaps followed J.K.Rowling’s lead and split the final chapter into two parts, allowing better development of both the plot and the characters.

Overall, the film itself sat nicely as part of an ongoing storyline but should not have tried to closed the book on The Batman himself so easily, although leaving another character with options for future films. Other directors in the past have managed to leave the door open for others to carry on but this film almost seems to shut the door on any future attempts to follow on.

Perhaps the Dark Knight title, as opposed to Batman, signalled from the outset that this was to be seen as a stand alone trilogy rather than their take on a theme?

Familiar characters thankfully portrayed by the same actors throughout and well written plots with great effects has made this a film and a trilogy worth all the praise heaped upon it but I still feel although three was a spree, four would have been more.

Now, on my return, I did finally catch up with Hugh Jackman and his walking talking man sized bash’em bots.

Real Steel read like a big screen twist on the science geek favourite, Robot Wars but this had no sign of loveable scouser Craig Charles or Sgt. Bash and Matilda. No, beneath the costume dressing of battling larger than life android boxers was a very formulaic family story of a down and out failed fighter who discovers he has a son he never knew and sees a chance to make some money. The boy and absent dad grow closer as they and their reject robot rise to take on the celebrity champ. Our hero gets, the girl although any attempt make us think they weren’t already a pair was hidden well,boy finds new respect for his bum of a dad and the under dog fighter comes up trumps Rocky style.

Predictable but enjoyable light entertainment which won’t offend granny or the grandchildren and Jackman gets his chest out often enough for mum too.

So, in conclusion:

Would I pay for cinema tickets for Dark Knight? yes. The film calls for a big screen and big speakers.

For Real Steel? As a six week holiday treat maybe yes but otherwise no.

Would I buy or rent the dvd?

Dark Knight? Yes. I’m a Marvel Fan and would love the box set. Real Steel? no. It will be on television as often as The Waltons Family Christmas if schedulers know there jobs anyway.

Would I watch it on a wet afternoon on t.v.?

Yes to both. I’d stay in on a dry sunny weekend for The Bat!

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