The Dark Knight Rises to mixed reviews as critics miss Ledger
The final Batman instalment is long, confused, and lacks a Joker, but it’s still a blockbuster
ONE OF the most anticipated movie releases of the year, The Dark Knight Rises, premiered in New York last night to mixed reviews, with critics sorely missing Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 from an accidental drugs overdose after playing the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to the Batman saga, starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy, conjures a 9/11 feel with Manhattan under attack from Hardy’s evil Bane, and Batman in retirement. It is filled with spectacular car chases and explosions, but the epic 160 minutes running time, along with a host of new characters and subplots, frustrated some critics.
The Dark Knight Rises is due to premiere in London tomorrow and open in UK cinemas on Friday, but critics have already sharpened their pens. Christy Lemire of Associated Press called the film an "epic letdown" - plot-heavy, laden with expository dialogue and flashbacks and "just flat-out boring at times".
In The Independent, Geoffrey McNab says the film "suffers from a profound identity crisis", and cannot decide whether it is "a brooding, nuanced character study or a rip-roaring matinee adventure". The result is that the film "simply doesn’t gel".
Screen Daily’s Tim Grierson says the film suffers from "a glut of new characters - none of whom are as indelible as Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight". Grierson praises the film’s emotional resonance, but says there’s a "sense of disappointment that this sequel can’t match the heights of the first two films".
Others critics have been more generous. Empire’s Nev Pierce applauds The Dark Knight Rises as "superhero film-making on an unprecedented scale" and "a fitting epitaph for the hero Gotham deserves".
Time Out’s Tom Huddleston calls this Dark Knight instalment "a sprawling, epic feast of a movie, stuffed to the gills with side characters, subplots and diversions."
However, Huddleston also admits that the film suffers from the absence of Heath Ledger. "There’s nothing here to match the intensity of Heath Ledger’s Joker, and the movie feels weaker for it," says Huddleston. "But that was a one-off, and the show must go on."
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy says the Batman conclusion ranks as the best of Nolan's trio, "even if it lacks - how could it not? - an element as unique as Heath Ledger's immortal turn in The Dark Knight." Nevertheless, McCarthy adds " it's a blockbuster by any standard."