BIG, bold and occasionally brilliant, the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series pushes the comic book movie to the limits of what it can bear, but comes good in the end thanks to Nolan’s ability to use cinematic sleight-of-hand to create a grand spectacle that embraces its more fanciful elements while pretending not to be interested in them.
The Dark Knight Rises
Warner Bros, £22.99
Set eight years on from The Dark Knight, the early parts of the film – featuring a crippled Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living like a hermit – may be a little clunky as Nolan devotes a too much time to our hero moping around his mansion, but once it gets going (courtesy of Tom Hardy’s Bane and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman) it really gets going. What’s perhaps most impressive is the way in which he brings what has become a bruising and operatic series to a close in a suitably epic way. Winding proceedings back full circle to the story he started telling with 2005’s Batman Begins, Nolan manages to make The Dark Knight Rises feel like a cohesive trilogy without having to reverse-engineer the story to make all the pieces fit together. It’s an ambitious sequel, flawed yes, but made by a director who cares and, crucially, knows that it’s always best to bow out at the top.
The Bourne Legacy
Sadly the same can’t be said for Tony Gilroy, writer/director of The Bourne Legacy. Having co-written the first three Bourne films, the Michael Clayton director attempts to right what he – and he alone – believes went wrong with the films under Paul Greengrass’s watch with a Matt Damon-free spin-off that is breathtaking only in its stupidity. Justifying the title by dubiously weaving the action into the same timeline as The Bourne Ultimatum, the film reduces Jeremy Renner’s new genetically enhanced super-agent to wrestling wolves, cracking jokes and engaging in lots of derivative action sequences as he attempts to outrun the nefarious government forces trying to kill him. In making the genetic engineering angle the main thrust of the story – as opposed to hinted-at background detail – Gilroy has effectively turned the film into a naff superhero film, one that inadvertently cribs a lot of its plot from Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk. Brief cameos from David Strathairn, Joan Allen and Albert Finney may provide some continuity with the earlier films but really just ruin the original trilogy’s neatly tied-off ending. Horrible.
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