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Sep 30, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


          Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joey King, Cillian Murphy, Josh Pence, Liam Neeson, Nestor Carbonell, Alon Abutbul, Juno Temple, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, John Daggett, Burn Gorman, Brett Cullen, Chris Ellis, Aidan Gillen, Rob Brown, Christopher Judge, William Devane, Tom Conti and Desmond Harrington.


                  Christopher Nolan.


                I was able to watch The Dark Knight Rises two weeks before its release here at a Special Screening (early August). That makes it the first time i ever watched a movie in a Multiplex, the experience i had was just wonderful. I was really looking forward to all the praise this movie was going to get and the box office records it was going to break but more than that i understood the odds it had against it. What happened on the night of its screening at Aurora, Colorado was heartbreaking. Moreover Nolan's decision to not release his movies in 3D which i appreciate very much are one of the reasons why this movie couldn't be as successful as the other big blockbusters we have seen this year. The Joker/Ledger withdrawal and the dark tone of these movies usually makes it less appealing to a certain audience who'll prefer other silly entertaining superhero flicks. I love it when film makers makes something new or a completely different take on anything. Christopher Nolan took a tough task of breathing a new life into the Batman movies by making Batman Begins which was followed by a phenomenal and perhaps one of the best movies ever, The Dark Knight.

               It was obvious that i had some really high expectations from this follow up in The Dark Knight or Batman Trilogy and while i had an amazing time watching it on the big screen and even though i couldn't stop thinking about it for days and days, i felt a bit disappointed. Christopher Nolan is known for making great movies with amazing ideas that requires multiple viewings to really understand the plots and depths of the incredibly layered narration. He weaves this cerebral and very complicated threads that makes your mind go crazy and you love him for that. This last movie in the Nolan's Batman trilogy offers a satisfying conclusion to the Batman we love and know about. However me, as a fan of Christopher Nolan, i was a bit letdown. I think with Batman Begins Nolan tried to create the Batman movie he wanted to while still sticking to the Batman we knew. The Dark Knight being the 2nd movie he took the liberty in making it into a crime saga, much more than an ordinary superhero movie. The problem with this movie is that it felt to generic, felt like Nolan didn't put his utmost effort or maybe the studios didn't wanted him to make another "The Dark Knight" because i know that Nolan doesn't think his audience is too foolish or stupid to really understand his work. The Dark Knight Rises in many ways seems like a Nolan movie made by some guy how usually directs Marvel Movies.

              But even with all that i still had a bloody great time and for what its worth, i enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises more than The Avengers. The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after the events of the previous movie, Gotham is in a state of peace and the violent crimes have been nearly eradicated. Eight years after the fall of Gotham's hero Harvey Dent and the truth about him have been hidden from everyone but it falls into the hands of Bane. Movie opens up with an amazing sequence that takes place completely above the ground, in the air and involves two planes. This is what Nolan does and he gets to do it. That really first scene sets the tone of this movie perfectly and introduces the bad guy, Bane with that scary looking mask with which he covers half of his face and reminds you of Hannibal Lecter and that distinct voice which was the talk of the town since the first trailer was released. On the other hand, we have Bruce Wayne who is in hiding, locked up in the Wayne Manor after the death of the woman he loved and the fact that Batman isn't needed anymore. John Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is someone who somehow knows everything there is about Bruce Wayne and he being promoted know after Gordon gets shot, wants him to return as Batman. Bane begins to slowly make things worse for Batman and for Gotham City giving Bruce the reason he needed to come back as Batman. Some of the most heart touching moments comes from Alfred and Bruce Wayne's interactions when Alfred tries to make him stop as he knows this time, he just might not make it. Amazing how wonderfully Nolan intensifies both the action sequences and such silent interactions between the characters masterfully.

               Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard is interested in the Wayne's Fusion Energy Project while Cat Burglar Selina Kyle played by Anne Hathaway helps Batman in locating Bane. Bane overpowers Batman in a physical fight that ends up in Bane placing him in a prison from which its impossible to get out of. That is where the inmates tells him a story about how Ra's al Ghul's child was the only one to escape, which he believes is Bane but its not. No doubt about it that The Dark Knight Rises is the Best Superhero/Action/Summer Blockbuster movie of 2012 and that its not even nearly as good as The Dark Knight but this is what a Transformer movie would look like when directed by Nolan. That is not a negative comment by the way. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman has to be one of the best things about the movie even though she is being a little underused. Her presence in the movie provides us with some good distraction and some comic relieve. Her introduction in the movie as a maid working in the Wayne Manor as she steals a precious jewelry from Bruce's room for someone she is working for is a bravo moment. The moment she switches to her alter ego Catwoman is a stunning scene, how easily she does it without much cheesiness that brought down the Catwoman movie is impressive. Anne Hathaway looks sexy, stunning and utterly believable in this role. Talking about the villain of the movie, Bane as played by Tom Hardy was really impressive as the bad guy. His motives and the way he brings a havoc upon the Batman and Gotham is very different from what Joker does in the previous movie and it sometimes comes off as dull and underwhelming. The comparisons to both are inevitable, yes Joker was better and yes Bane no matter how much underwhelming as a character he is, his presence in the movie and his one-on-one fighting sequences with Batman are to watch out for.

                There is a plot involving Miranda Tate and Bane, which i wont spoil even though many of you have already seen this movie a thousand of times now. I thought that plot wasn't very convincing and that it wasn't executed quite well in the movie. From the moment we see Marion as Tate, i knew exactly what her real motives were, furthermore her closeness and that cheesy make out scene with Bruce confirms it right away. She was okay in this movie if not good, certainly not as good as she was in Inception but here she is kind of covering up her real self and tries not to reveal her identity which is the reason why we don't see Marion herself as much liberated with her performance. Michael Caine this time gets more screen presence than the previous two movies and his performance is outstanding. Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays an important role as someone who knows about Batman, believes in him blindly all of a sudden and we are constantly kept in that place where we are not suppose to guess who he really is but then the movie fails to do that and the end doesn't necessarily comes off as a surprise but we know he is that guy who is going to be Batman's friend, Robin. Christian Bale, the most important actor in this trilogy have always been not given enough credit for his performance, this time he gets to play Bruce more seriously and in depth than ever. Also the presence of Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and other such actors makes it an outstanding ensemble.

              Hans Zimmer once again gives a wonderful score to the movie, this time its much more louder and thrilling. It helps so much in further increasing the scope of every major sequence in the movie. Excellent Cinematography, the sweeping shots of the city, the fight sequences whether between two characters or the whole battle sequence on the streets, from the flying bat-mobile to the explosions, the camera work is at its best. Nolan uses less CGI as usual which adds a lot to the movie experience, the bat-mobile though looks a bit weird flying off, it doesn't really fits but that is something I'll easily overlook. I am somewhat mixed about The Dark Knight Rises as you can see but that is not to say that this wasn't an excellent attempt. The final 40-45 minutes with those twists and turns and amazing thrilling almost heart stopping one after another sequence is something that elevates the movie. You will really want to overlook the predictable revelations and somewhat generic and conventional setup of it. The open ending of the movie is something that i loved, Batman will indeed live. It all comes down to that moment and i couldn't help but got very emotional over it, so did the rest of the audience.

                  Overlong, ambitious, convoluted, epic, breathtaking, generic, disappointing, entertaining, emotional, are the words i mostly used in my review and no matter how much opposite their purpose is to describe a movie i thing it all comes down to the fact that The Dark Knight Rises while being an underwhelming conclusion to the Dark Knight Trilogy but it still rises above the usual Summer/Superhero/Comic book blockbuster charm and leaves you feeling blown away by the greatness. I think that is what counts here and we should appreciate Nolan's effort in creating this world and for doing the impossible for such type of film making, no matter how much less impressive most of the aspect of this conclusive movie were to its previous movie, i think he did his job very well.

Grade: B+