Saturday, July 21, 2012

"The Dark Knight Rises" (2012) - Movie Review

Probably one of the most anticipated film in the past decade, “The Dark Knight Rises” is the film for which I prepared in refreshing viewing the predecessors in my backyard assembling my friends. Such is the love I have for this franchise by director Christopher Nolan who has constructed each of this piece with care for the art of cinema, logic and entertainment in perfect harmony. He extracted some of the best works from his supporting roles and the best in his last venture of late Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”. The expectation as much as one can contain has only exponentially increased and as much as I shunned the pure brilliance of its predecessors, “The Dark Knight Rises” is quite tough to meet those standards. Yet Nolan has proven us wrong with “The Darkn Knight” that ousted “Batman Begins”. “The Dark Knight Rises” is a thorough good work from Nolan and his team, nevertheless it is a victim of a successes of its predecessors. 

The film that begins 8 years after the tragedy Joker has imparted, Gotham has survived without Batman. Thanks to the lie by Batman through Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) of Harvey Dent’s killings put on him that gave birth to Dent Act which has given ultimate control in removing criminals that has made Gotham a peaceful place. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) lives in Wayne Manor as a recluse limping through life and has been drowning in his sorrows of lost love. I would have liked to know the 8 years Bruce went through in convincing himself of being discarded and retired. Or may be not as the sight of depressed man going through life with no sense of purpose would be a separate film on itself. This is not a indie drama we are talking about as it is one of the most popular comic book heroes rejuvenated splendidly on the screen. But in Nolan’s world he exists much more real than anyone would have ever seen in a super hero film.

Bane is played by dangerously built up Tom Hardy whose facial reactions are nothing but eyes as the gas mask covers up his entire face. Sadly his eyes are not ferocious enough and the processed voice needs real close listening to understand. He begins a machination that characterizes the events in bringing Bruce out of his cave onto his Batcave. He suits up with the help of Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman) and tries to battle the new evil as Bane. Bane’s purpose are solely driven by what Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) left in “Batman Begins”. Even that purpose is only told through the summary laid out by Alfred (Michael Caine) for Bruce. While Heath Ledger’s Joker cannot be beaten or matched up, Bane’s belief is not enunciated by himself. He appear to be mercenary and thus the match in the mind game does not equate well enough. Yet the sheer mass and power Tom Hardy brings in this giant is thoroughly entertaining. We believe in the force of this evil and he comes down on Batman effortlessly. There is a drive in bringing him down. Death is not an immediacy of punishment he is looking for his master’s life. He puts Bruce in a prison where hope is torture.

The end to the trilogy cannot be more elaborate. It cannot get bigger than this. And Christopher Nolan does not blow up buildings without a reason. The range of the stunts are brought on to the same gravity and reality “The Dark Knight” had. It does not go beyond it but retains it. When you watch this film with a foundation it lays on in the first hour and we sparsely see the masked hero, we are bombarded with plethora of characters that gets introduced and eliminated properly. There is Selina Kyle better known as Catwoman played by Anne Hathaway with a bite of humour and sliver of hope in change within. Then there is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), who appears to be a proper solace for the lone man who has discarded any form of happiness. Finally there is up and coming officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who knows the man and the mask just by the way Wayne acts out. He is where Bruce was in “Batman Begins” trying to find justice and unable to cope with idealism being beat down by good people.

The best scenes are the ones with Alfred and Bruce. We see the old butler trying all he can to talk some sense in enjoying this small life Wayne has gotten. Caine and Bale have formed a bond through these characters right from “Batman Begins” and their scenes brings forth the much needed and justifiable emotional part the film needs and we truly sympathize with Alfred and through him towards Bruce Wayne. Yet the best of all scenes is the rejuvenation of the old and tiring Bruce Wayne finding meaning in existence and the will to fight in the hellish prison Bane put him through. This is the class of Christopher Nolan who brings epiphany for a character that we can relate and believe. When the magic happens and when we know the character is going to conquer his fears and come through stunningly, we are elated within in being convinced of that than a plot leverage to advance. The joy of the character’s success is organic in Nolan’s presentation. We know this will happen and we are with Bruce Wayne when he makes the leap.

The screenplay by the Nolan brothers is nothing short of complex. It intertwines these people and stitches them up with no idea how the end will be nevertheless keeping us appreciatively guessing. The humour is still there as sarcasm and condescension  oozes which are trademark to Nolan’s writing. In all this is the thumping score of Hans Zimmer riding solo without James Newton Howard and he brings the much needed hair rising experience in a scene filled with gravity or a stunt that requires the extra energy for the audience to root. Through the undergrounds, skyscrapers and chases is Wally Pfister with his cinematography taking us in the IMAX presentation that the film truly deserves.

“The Dark Knight Rises” on its own is a thoroughly entertaining, brilliantly acted, spectacularly choreographed and faithfully performed film. It suffers from the bright lights of the “The Dark Knight” and due to that I was mildly disappointed by the lack of fuel power the villain in this. Sometimes I wish to write a review for a film on different stages, on its new born form, slightly seasoned and in its nostalgic antique/art state. But what that actually means is that me as a person and the surroundings changing along with it and how it alters the way I see the film on different times, surroundings and expectations. While I do not want to do that for all the films, I would like to do for the films I thought I enjoyed but left with a small residue of dissatisfaction. A year from now, if I watch “The Dark Knight Rises”, I might enjoy it more or notice more of its flaws but for now all I can say is that Christopher Nolan has provided the best super hero films one could not possibly imagine and ended it with all his guns blazing gloriously. It is a fitting finale and he can be proud along with his team in pulling it off.


John Tempey said...

I liked the review of the movie better than the movie itself. I think that is the problem - it doesn't stand up well as a movie, there are just some cool parts connected by dialog to tie parts together. I shouldn't have to be told a movie was good, it should just be good. Good review Ashok.

Ashok said...

Tempey! Thanks for reading! I still think it is much better film. I can see someone disliking it but "hate" is a strong word :-P.

Keep reading my friend!

Kishore said...

Ashok ji.. amazing review and you are turning into a true critic pro. And no better compliment when someone can put your review ahead of a Christopher Nolan film itself :-)

I've not had a chance to watch this culmination part yet, but I've still managed to sustain huge expectations in spite of different reviews. I was more curious on how Nolan can replicate or come close to the magic 'Joker' did in The Dark Knight.. Your review answers it well ji.. Good work, keep it up..

Ashok said...

Kishore Ji! Thanks for the kind comments. Coming from you it means a lot. I have not been that frequent in watching films and writing about lately but I definitely enjoy when I do. I am sure this is something that will follow through my entire life! I am glad I could pen something reasonable enough quite confidently now a day. Do watch "The Dark Knight Rises" as it is definitely is a fitting finale. See it and comment again :-)