Thursday, 2 August 2012

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ – Novelisation by Greg Cox (Titan Books)

Before I sat down to write this post, I found myself wondering when I last made it to the cinema. Thank goodness for the blog is all I have to say :o) I had it in mind that the last film I saw was ‘Revenge of the Sith’ but it was actually ‘Iron Man’… way back in 2008. Three years since I’ve been to the pictures? It doesn’t feel right but that’s what the blog is telling me… Babysitting issues make it even more difficult to go these days (although Hope really behaved herself at the Olympics, maybe she’s ready for a film) and that’s why I love movie novelisations. A ‘book of the film’ is never going to beat the film itself but I’ll always take it over not getting any story at all. There’s also something to be said about not having to queue up to read a book (once you’ve bought it) and reading it in your own house without an annoying couple eating loudly and spoiling all the good bits… ;o)

So it was then that I was really pleased to get my hands on a copy of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. The way things are these days I’m looking at watching this on DVD, in a couple of years time, so was glad to get a chance to read the story in the meantime.
It goes without saying that I’ll be doing my utmost to avoid all spoilers but if you haven’t seen the film yet (I thought it was just me…) then you might want to play it safe and stop reading here. Or not, totally up to you…

It’s been eight years since the Batman was last seen in Gotham City, not that his presence has really been needed with crime in the city at an all time low. That’s all about to change though with the arrival of Bane, a criminal genius on a mission to bring chaos to Gotham City… and more.
Will Batman be tempted out of retirement and, even if he is, will he be able to stop Bane from destroying an entire city…?

Having not seen the film, this review was actually very hard to write. I’d normally judge a book on its own merits but a film novelisation? I think in a situation like this you really need to have seen the film as well; just to be able to tell whether the book has done its job or not. I guess a book can do more than one job though… If this books job was to make me want to go and see the film then it certainly did that.

I started reading ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ a couple of nights ago and finished it the very next morning. Like I said, I can’t compare it to the film but it’s clear that Cox has done very well to inject his work with the raw power and energy of a big screen movie. You have to keep turning the pages; Bane is larger than life and capable of surprising you every time with what he does (I’m thinking of the football stadium…) and how he is constantly one step ahead of everyone. His initial fight with Batman makes for some powerful reading.

The plot itself veers between being absorbing and, erm… not. I enjoyed some of the twists (one of which I should have seen coming but totally didn’t) and I liked the way that Cox takes time to give us a little more insight into each character. Little things like that make this book more than just a ‘book of the film’.

Having said that though… You know how you can really enjoy a film but only bits of it stay in your mind? This novelisation suffers from the same kind of problem. While I enjoyed the main sequences (and the way that it all fits together) I couldn’t really tell you, a few days on, what happened in the lead up to these. If you can’t remember what happens then you have to ask whether those passages were strictly necessary… Is the book possibly aping the film a little too well here…? If it is then it’s not a good thing for a tale told in this format. A movie can afford to lose a little focus while it’s throwing image after image at the viewer; a book needs to be tighter than that to keep the readers attention.

Like I said though, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is an entertaining read as well as one that has me wanting to see the movie on the big screen (we’ll see if that happens). Sometimes, you can’t really ask for a lot more than that. I wish it could have been a little more but I’ll happily settle for what I got.

Eight and a Quarter out of Ten

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