Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dark Knight Rises (DKR) Review

Being the biggest movie ever made by Christopher Nolan, it has some thrilling set pieces. But it also, leaves you feeling that Christopher Nolan's (CN henceforth) idea about how the film should be was bigger than he could implement. Hype around the film warranted a 00:00 hour premiere viewing accompanied by waiting in the line for almost 3 hours,  but the film certainly did not live up to the expectation. Maybe it is due to the superlative standard set by "Dark Knight", but to my own surprise, despite being a wonderful film, DKR leaves one wanting something more. Before I delve further into dissecting this bombastic film, I warn the readers of SPOILERS. So, if you haven't yet seen the film and plan to watch it, and do not want to know anything about it, absolutely anything !! Then stop reading any further. One humble advice, if you really want to enjoy the film, go in with low expectation and if possible revise the first film of the trilogy, "Batman Begins". 

For those who have continued to read, lets get into the meat of the topic. This is CN's costliest project yet, a whopping 250 million $$ and it is worth every dime, but not a single penny more, because it somewhere lacks the heart. It is highly stylized and CN has tried to use least amount of computer graphics possible. Some of the scenes in the film are epic, right from the starting gambit of aeroplane jacking to  the climax of thousands of policemen and thugs clashing on the streets of Gotham. The film starts with the high-octane kidnapping of a Russian nuclear scientist by Bane, shot brilliantly in Scotland. The opening scene captivates your attention, which it maintains throughout. Cut to Gotham, it has been 8 years since Harvey Dent died and the fall guy has been the Dark Knight. Since then, the city of Gotham has been cleaned, largely due the work of Commissioner Gordon and and a lie about the death of Harvey Dent. To facilitate the lie, the Cape Crusader has also taken a sabbatical and so has Bruce Wayne from public life. The film goes through a languid pace for a wee bit, but it is like the calm before the storm and that is aptly put by Selina Kyle (played electrically by Anne Hathaway), 

"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. ... When it hits, you're all going to wonder how you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us ".  

This one line sums up the heart of the film and makes it very contemporary and relevant. CN being an exceptional and intelligent screen play writer, like Dark Knight he has layers and uses allusions to put forward some of his ideas. Like Dark Knight, this film is also a commentary on the age we live in but somehow it fails to hit the raw nerve the way the last installment of Batman did. Let me not get too ahead of myself, the character of Selina Kyle adds a spark to the film and is certainly a great foil to the dark and brooding Batman.   In the mean time Bane starts to rear up his ugly head in Gotham and, Batman despite being seriously out of touch is forced to comeback. He eventually gets decimated by the super villain, and with this Batman reaches his absolute nadir, where he looses almost everything he has, his money, Alfred  and confidence. At this point, breaking of Batman's back by Bane is more metaphorical than physical.    The film then goes into Bane taking over Gotham through an initially underground (literally) movement, which pitches the cities haves against the have nots. Here we have one of the best set pieces in the film, the destruction of the Heinz Filed (stadium of the Pittsburg Steelers). Even this absolutely phenomenal scene is done without computer graphics, and goes to show CN's team's technical prowess. After this, anarchy sets in Gotham along with a ticking nuclear device. 

Every superhero film is as good as its super villain and that is where DKR fails. Bane despite his hulking figure does not evoke emotions Heath Ledger's Joker evoked. Dark Knight (DK) was as much Joker's film as it was Batman's. In DK the most memorable lines were that of the Joker and he attained cult status as an evil genius, on the contrary Bane comes across as a hulking meatloaf. Though Bane masterminds Batman's and Gotham's fall, he never comes across as menacing as Joker, who carried with himself an air of chaos and randomness. Comparing Joker and Bane is like comparing a scalpel with a sledge hammer. And Bane's standing as a super villain is further eroded by an unexpected twist at the end. I think, Bane's character could have done better without all the dialogues. It would have added an air of mystery to the character. Throughout the film, through flashbacks, the story of Bane's origin is explored and it is there Batman goes to redeem himself. Those sequences are said to be in Turkey (in the film) but are splendidly shot in Jaipur, India. As expected Batman returns to Gotham and thus starts the final epic struggle to end the anarchy. The road to the end has a few twists, and like always, throughout the film CN provides hints about the final twist but you only recognize them once CN has played all his hands.  In the due course to the climax, CN also ties some of the loose ends left in "Batman Begins". 

To sum it up, in the acting department all the actors did their part competently, without being exceptional. Tom Hardy as Bane was underutilized. The film has the usual high production and technical quality one attributes to CN. The film has some of the best sequences in the recent past, which were shot in epic proportions without the aid of computer graphics; but not many dialogues that will stay with you after the film. Personally, the film could have done with a tighter screen play and an ending which did not pander to the masses. Fitting but not an exceptional end to the Batman trilogy. I will give it 3.5 stars. By itself, it is an exceptional and very ambitious film but compared to Dark Knight  (the best super hero film ever made) it does not fullfil its promise.       


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Girl

First time I met her was when I was very young. I still distinctly remember the day she walked into the class, demure yet confident and those rosy cheeks. For the next three years we were in the same class, we were friends but not buddies. I don’t know why, maybe because I was too young to understand her depth or just the fact that I was more interested in playing cricket than wooing pretty girls. But even in those days what came across was her warmth for everybody, I still reminisce the recesses in school when I used to feast on her lunch of roti and fried bhindi (lady’s fingers). Another thing that stood out even then was, you could love her or hate her but you just couldn’t ignore her. After that due to various reasons we were not in touch. It seemed to me that we were on different paths and at that time I didn’t foresee that we would meet again and that too at the crossroads. Years passed and one fine day I found her on a social networking site. All this time she was out of my mind but I hadn’t forgotten her, her childish exuberance, her innocence and her beauty. We got talking after a long hiatus but it seemed that we had never stopped. We opened up to each other and we just couldn’t stop talking, we had so much to catch up; she had still retained her childish exuberance. We were in different cities, separated by thousands of kilometers but before too long, I got a chance to meet her. She was waiting at a cafĂ©, she stood up to greet me when I walked in and I was awestruck. She had transformed from the bubbly, pretty, rosy-cheeked girl to an auburn femme fatale.

But beneath the entire glamor, her eyes showed an open scar, which was still bleeding. Beneath that luminous smile, if you scratched you could find dried up tears, shed without a sob, shed in silence, shed at the dark of the night. But she still had that disarming charm and confidence. I was plagued by a question, how can a person be both, confident yet vulnerable, so beautiful but yet so broken. She had changed in the last few years and I had too. I was no longer the brash kid but a more sensitive one. Life had taught me a few lessons and was about to teach me a few more.  I was at the crossroads of my life so was she and the path we were going to choose eventually was different but somehow fate put both of us at the same intersection for the next one-year. After that I met her only few more times and our communication was mainly electronic but we never felt the distance, at least I never did. During this time we shared our aspirations, self-doubts, fantasies and fears. More I talked to her more I became infatuated with her but I should have understood that she was never a bird that can be caged and then she was anyway beyond my league. It was not that I didn’t try to woo her, people in love can be foolish but what I had failed to realize that even if it had worked, it wouldn’t have lasted because she is like a deer in the jungle, which you should only watch and never try to catch. Few lines of Tagore come to mind,

Mayabono biharini horini
Gohono shopono shoncharini
Keno tare dhoribarey kori pon ?
Okaron ?

Illusive forest wanderer is a deer
One who roams in deep dreams
Why do you pledge to imprison it,
For no reason or rhyme?

May it hide in my own mind from a distance.
I am the melody of the flute, in omnipresence.
That touches the heart and soul alike
For no reason that may strike.

By the end of that year the above realization dawned upon me. At the end of that year I flew away and she also started her grand voyage, some may even call it the “flight of the Icarus”. Today I see her and get to know about her well being from social networking websites. I have not kept the promises to keep in touch, neither has she; the promises made before we started our respective voyages. Now she has transformed even more, she is slowly but surely working towards her goal. In her photographs, she looks even more lovely than she used to, more gorgeous and even more confident but still somewhere beneath that steely gaze you may find fleeting vulnerability. It seems the scars haven’t completely healed yet. As a friend I should have kept the promise but I let things go, as it was hurting me. Yes I have been selfish but whenever my flower girl gives me a call, I will be there. Till then I will savor that fateful year, those few meetings and that smile.

Kindeled by the heavy monsoon breeze
Trickles down the heavenly euphony
The heart becomes restless
For no reason that is harmony

From afar shall I be enticing
Shall tie a bond in secrecy
The bond that is unseen for no reason but pristine

PS: I am glad to be updating my Blog after such a long time. I have been planning to start blogging again but somehow couldn't get down to do it. Hope this is not just a flash in the pan. 
Also, as usual a disclaimer:  the above is a not a  work of fiction and resemblance to anyone is purely intentional. :P