STARRING: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan (CERT 12A, 164 minutes)
The plot: For his final, trilogy-ending Batman picture, director Christopher Nolan pushes events eight years beyond The Dark Knight. Thanks to a major empowerment of law enforcement, organised crime is in abeyance, and both Bruce Wayne (Bale) and his caped alter ego have retired from public life. But when the psychotic Bane (Hardy) unleashes war on Gotham, Batman returns to the fray. Along the way he tangles with cat burglar Selina Kyle (Hathaway), romances Wayne Industries board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) and inspires plucky cop John Blake (Gordon-Levitt), who grew up in an orphanage funded by Wayne’s charitable foundation.
What’s right with it? The movie starts with a bang via a spectacular aerial segment establishing Bane as a highly resourceful foe, and later hits warp speed again after he takes control of Gotham, blowing up its bridges, blocking its tunnels, and unleashing underclass resentment against the city’s pampered elites. It’s astonishing to see this cautionary tale about the perils of widening inequality unfold within a mega-budget blockbuster.
What’s wrong with it? After the whiz-bang curtain-raiser, the first hour seems unnecessarily complicated, talky and weighed down by the burden of respecting the trilogy’s overall story arc.
Verdict: Hot on the heels of the mind-spinning Inception, Nolan once again proves himself as the writer-director most capable of taking the Hollywood blockbuster into surprising and audacious directions. You’d be crazy to miss it. 4/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Hamish Linklater
DIRECTOR: Daryl Wein (CERT 15, 87 minutes)
The plot: With her 30th birthday looming, NY grad student Lola (Gerwig) turns to her best pals Henry (Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister Jones) after being dumped by her fiancé (Kinnaman). Romantic complications ensue.
What’s right with it? Defiantly veering off the train tracks of the traditional romcom, Lola Versus benefits from characters and dramas that resemble real life.
What’s wrong with it? Lola is annoyingly self-involved, and the outcome isn’t one you’re probably rooting for.
Verdict: Fans of the charming Gerwig (Greenberg) will want to check her latest quirky indie pic, while Kinnaman (The Killing US) and Linklater provide bonus treats of hotness and sweetness. However, we can’t help feeling these talents could have been used better. 3/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Ryan O’Nan, Michael Weston, Arielle Kebbel
DIRECTOR: Ryan O’Nan (CERT 15, 97 minutes)
The plot: After losing his girlfriend, bandmate and job, musician Alex (O’Nan) rashly accepts an offer from eccentric loner Jim (Weston) to form a duo and tour the US.
What’s right with it? The songs these unlikely lads create with one guitar and an array of toy instruments are toe-tappingly tuneful – so much so, in fact, the stars have since landed a real-life record deal.
What’s wrong with it? The chatty bits tend to drag on, while the “plot” is really just a series of random incidents.
Verdict: Sweet, funny and calculatedly quirky, this charming indie road movie makes up for in heart and smarts what it lacks in finesse and resources. 3/5 NEIL SMITH