Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises and how! Wow!

[Batman - The greatest superhero of all time.]
Superheroes, a breed of extraordinary beings that transcend the barriers of age, sex, race, religion, mystical creatures that shock and awe us, inspire us to greater things, who wouldn't like them? We  dream how exciting and expedient it would be to sprout wings and fly or spin spiderwebs with the mere flicking of our wrists, but often conveniently ignore the fact that these superheroes, well most of them, aren't possible in real life. That makes the ones that are all the more likeable and desirable. I can think of only Batman and Ironman as the two superheroes that are possible, of course considering you have all that money to splurge. And for some reason, Batman was the one that always intrigued me. A man leading two lives, a vigilante cleaning up the streets of a rotting corrupting city at night, someone who works without taking credit for it, yet indulging in theatricality and show with flashy gadgets and toys, and still a rather vain person, who is not beyond all human emotions, particularly anger and vindictiveness. He is the most believable superhero there is, and thus the most adored.

[Just love this dramatic poster. The collapsing buildings reminiscent of Cobb's falling world in Inception.]
My fascination with Batman was further boosted by the genius of Christopher Nolan when he rebooted the Batman series; the earlier Batman films look awful! Nolan is known to make amazing films, films that just blow your mind, whether it was with his first one Following [1998], Memento [2000], The Prestige [2006], Inception [2010] or the Batman trilogy, starting with Batman Begins in 2005, followed by The Dark Knight in 2008, and the last instalment, The Dark Knight Rises this year. Nolan has transformed the Batman franchise into one of the biggest, most talked about and highest-grossing franchises along with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, the Star Wars saga, and for some unfathomable reason, the Twilight series. He has proved time and again that he is, without doubt, a cut above the rest. My top three favourite films of all time are all Nolan. When I first saw The Prestige, I couldn't believe that someone could come up with something so good, and it became my favourite film, but was replaced within two years by The Dark Knight, the most perfect film anyone could ever make, a flawless gem, which again was replaced by Inception in 2010 for its sheer brilliance and ingenuity. Although, this time The Dark Knight Rises could not dislodge Inception. but let that not take anything away from it.

What often happens with me, is that I have exceedingly high expectations from almost everything, films, books, my favourite athletes, ... and I am rather fastidious, exceedingly difficult to please. It would have to be just perfect for me to really like it. And after tasting the deliciousness of his earlier movies, Nolan's latest did taste a little bit off. But it still was an amazing film. The direction was outstanding as usual. The character's of the film, having grown on you due to the earlier two films, now seem even more genial, especially Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman, the genius who designs all those awesome things for Batman, the coolest being his latest flying Batmobile and the Batcycle, and I still can't get over how smoothly and coolly the Batcycle's wheels swivel and enable the bike to stop and change direction. Another lovable character is Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred, portrayed by Sir Michael Caine with perfection; the quintessential butler who does everything for you, cares and loves you like a parent, never gives up on you and eggs you on, yet does not shy away from taking a hard stand to convince you from taking stupid decisions. The villain in the film, Bane, portrayed by Tom Hardy, was nothing compared to Heath Ledger's Joker. Probably the mask hindering the acting capabilities of an otherwise fine good-looking actor. Joker shall forever be the villain to beat, for Heath did bring something never before seen to a film character.

[The Rise of the Dark Knight.]
I was surprised at how well Anne Hathaway did her job as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, especially after her horrendous performance at this year's Oscras, co-hosting with James Franco. She looked stunningly sexy in that lycra dress of hers and her feline grace. The incredibly dapper and dashing Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Blake's role to perfection, and the way they reveal at the end that he is Robin, was a nice way to leave a window open for possible future sequels. Oscar winner Marion Cotillard played her part well as Miranda Tate and the twist at the end where she is revealed to be Talia al Ghul was shocking, to say the least. My cousin, with whom I had gone to see the film, did mention in the forced interval that we have here in India, that in the comics she was Ra's al Ghul's daughter, and I brushed it aside, chiding him for always Googling and Wikiing everything and reading up the wrong stuff; well he was right then. Earlier, both Marion and Nolan, when questioned on whether Miranda's role would be similar to the one in the comics, had very smartly denied that, although in the end that is what happens. Christian Bale was of course great as Batman and Bruce Wayne, but when you think of it, very many actors could have pulled off the role as it does not require much acting, with a mask masking your expressions most of the time and a voice that is hardly yours. Nolan seems to have stuck with actors he has already had the pleasure of working with; a large number of them having worked with him in Inception. Maybe this comfort level is what makes the actors deliver power-packed performances.

The music and score for this film was by the great master Hans Zimmer and unlike the earlier two Batman films, James Newton Howard did not return to work with Hans. Hans, who has earlier produced masterpieces for films like The Lion King [1994], Gladiator [2003] and Inception [2010], wowed us once again with music that is grand and moving, giving you goosebumps and making you want to get out of your seats and become a masked saviour the minute you exit the cinemas. The main Batman theme is just out of this world. I loved the way Batman makes his return in the dying stages of the film, with his insignia burning over the bridge and him indulging the cops in a sensational chase.

It wasn't the acting or the music or the direction that let me down just that little. It was certain parts of the story. I think the whole welled prison, though it mirrored the title as Bruce 'rises' from it and even as his fellow cellmates are chanting 'deshi basara', meaning 'he rises' in Moroccan (Ra's al Ghul was an Arab), made little sense. The prison seemed to be one that did not have any guards, and if no one did leave or enter how did the prisoners get their supplies? Why would anyone just leave ropes lying there for prisoners to escape? And why was Bruce biding his time in the dinghy cell, waiting until the very last hour to go and save Gotham? That big a fan of theatricality, huh? And of course those stupid moments when every second is valuable and instead of saving the world you have the hero making out! I found it extremely stupid that Batman did not kill Bane when he had a chance right in the beginning of the movie when the flying mobile is first used and Bane is right there at the edge of the terrace of a building and within shooting range. Also, as Catwoman too said, why did Batman and Bane try and use muscle-power rather than fire-power when sparring with each other? Was it to satiate their mighty male egos? On the dialogues end too, I preferred those legendary ones in The Dark Knight rather than these ones. I was half-expecting Alfred to interrupt one of their fights, shooting Bane and shouting 'Step away from my son'; that would have been a good touch to it. However, the end of the film was really good and positive, with them revealing Blake as Robin and good ol' Alfred greeting Bruce and Selina at some quaint café in the lovely city of Florence. For us die-hard Batman fans, there is hope, despite what both Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan said about there being no Batman sequels after this.

Despite my criticism, I would still say it is one of the best movies, with great action and acting, unbeatable music and direction, and multiple twists and turns that make you wanna stay through the whole three hours, which is pretty long for a Hollywood film, although you just wish it would never end. The film is gripping and a blockbuster entertainer. I am most certain it will smash all box-office records with the frenzy it has generated. And it has generated quite a riot. The day it was released, a deranged man, James Eagan Holmes, donning protective gear, set of smoke canisters and fired in the audience at a Century cinema in Aurora, Colorado killing 12 and injuring 58. Why is it that a majority of these mad men and psychos are always from the Unites States? However, this incident did not mar an otherwise great box-office weekend for The Dark Knight rises. I am going to contribute to that further by going for the film a second time this week, if not more, for the next big film seems to be The Hobbit, and there is still some time to it. Hope the rebooted Superman series, with its first film Man of Steel coming out next year and produced by Nolan, though not directed by him, is just as stupefying as the Batman reboot.

Rating: A well deserved .


  1. Brilliantly written. I am a huge batman fan. But I absolutely hated Dark knight rises. According to me, in case of superhero films the technicalities should be right. And when it comes to batman, the most realistic of all heroes, the technicalities should be spot on. Speaking with that perspective, correct me if I'm wrong, the bomb, which was a part fusion reactor (energy of the SUN!!) should have given off a larger explosion. Apart from this, there were other things that ticked me off. The prison well was one of them. Another was the inhuman task Batman managed to do- with seconds for the bomb to go off, Batman had enough time to listen to Miranda brag about how she fulfilled her fathers's dreams, kiss cat-woman and take the bomb far away from Gotham. Really?! Batman!!!

  2. Thank you. Yes, I totally agree with you. They often like to make it more dramatical with last-minute, rather last-second escapes and saves!