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.       



  1. True. The Dark Knight Rises is a good movie, perhaps a very good movie, but not as exceptional and as captivating as The Dark Knight was.

    1. exactly my feeling once the movie finished ...

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