The Dark Knight Rises is yet another triumphant blockbuster from Christopher Nolan. The British-American director has almost single-handedly dragged the genre kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
While his peers such as Michael Bay and Tony Scott seem resigned to making blockbusters that only teenage boys can draw any kind of enjoyment from, Nolan makes spectacles that actually have narrative and emotion in them, as well as great action.
And, rather than narrowing the appeal of his films, making intelligent blockbusters actually does translate into big box office.
That’s why Warner Bros were quick to sign Nolan up to the the new Superman project. And, while he rejected the offer to direct Man of Steel, he did agree to help develop the story with longtime collaborator David S. Goyer, and produce.
While Steven Spielberg brought us event movies of genuine substance in the 1970s/80s like Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T, it seemed that by the 1990s his departure from the genre coincided with a dumbing down of the summer market place (editor’s note: except maybe the first Jurassic Park). With Pixar solely carrying the flag for quality family features, there was no one around to make special live action films that would appeal to everyone.
Nolan’s success is not just down to good writing and fantastic set pieces, but the pacing of his films. Scenes are quick, with every one fading into the next, while always adding to the story.
And, that is what Nolan seems to value more than anything; the story. Much like the great Stanley Kubrick, who used to take years between films trying to find the right subject matter, the star of Nolan’s films are the tales themselves.
Amazingly, he has yet to make a bad film and that of course is extremely rare. At 41 he is still very much a young director, and thankfully, unlike Kubrick, his output is not sporadic.
Even though I love all three of his Batman films, I am glad he isn’t doing any more, because a filmmaker of this calibre should not be consigned to the one subject matter.