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The Dark Knight Rises to a satisfactory conclusion
Jul 19, 2012 07:52 PM 4052 Views





Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer/s: Christopher Nolan/Jonathan Nolan/David S. Goyer

Music: Hans Zimmer

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman.

Alright. It’s finally here folks! The highly anticipated ending to the Batman saga. After Christopher Nolan had definitively stated that he was ending the Batman trilogy after this film, expectations were sky high. 3 has always been an unlucky number. Trilogies have been tricky for the best of them be it The Godfather III or Spiderman 3. The question in everyone’s mind, including mine, was that how indeed the arc of narrative would be concluded? Well, be rest assured, all questions are answered, some more convincingly than others.

Premise: (spoiler alert – please skip this section if you want a spoiler free review)

It’s been eight years since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes. Bruce Wayne has developed a limp and become a recluse. Commissioner Gordon is tired of living with the guilt of living with the truth of what happened that night eight years ago. Amidst this backdrop, enters a mercenary called Bane, who is physically much more powerful than the Batman. Also, Catwoman aka Selina Kyle makes an entrance, trying to steal a necklace from the Wayne Manor. She warns Bruce Wayne that a “storm is coming”. Wayne Enterprises’ assets are diminishing and the last hope is Miranda Tate, a wealthy investor who wants to invest in clean energy. Bruce had developed the technology but did not make it public, for fear of it being used by the wrong people as a nuclear device. After Bane’s entrance to Gotham, Alfred warns Bruce that age has caught up with him and that he is no match for Bane, as Bane was also trained by the League of Shadows, and by the same mentor – Ra’s As Ghul, as Bruce was. A young officer, John Blake, believes in Batman even though everyone else does not. Bruce dons the cape once more to protect the city he so loves. He gets beaten, physically and mentally, time and time again. Bane also acquires the clean energy device developed by Bruce and turns it into a nuclear weapon. How can Batman beat a person who is stronger than him? Is Catwoman an ally or a foe? That’s what the film is about.

Narrative arc:

The idea is not novel. Asking the aged hero to defend his beloved city one more time. However, it is the detailing in the concept due to which the film holds up. At around 2 hrs and 45 minutes, the film is of exceptional length. In many ways, it is almost a Hindi film! However, I give kudos to Nolan for keeping the dark and gritty tone throughout. This is not a film where the hero beats the villain. The villain batters and physically shatters the hero. The scars remain and so do the injuries. This is as close to real pain and injury that a comic book hero sustains on screen. I was writhing in pain watching Batman’s agony, being pummelled by Bane. Also, the back story of Bane was very interesting and engaging. Catwoman’s arc started in a good way, maintaining the femme fatale aspect and the dichotomy of morality but it slips into predictability by the end. However, this has nothing to do with Anne’s performance. She is by far, the best catwoman on screen, even better than Pfeiffer’s, in my opinion. Its just that, the character loses depth and becomes predictable and one dimensional and that has to do more with writing than performance. The conclusion I found was very satisfactory and perhaps the only route that could have been taken without anything flashy or controversial. It was a more than decent ending to the story, one which was foreshadowed very early on in the film. The use of the circular narrative arc proves very effective in the film.

Writing and other details:

The weakest part of the film is definitely its writing. I know that is a serious drawback, considering what we’ve come to expect from Nolan. For a brilliantly penned film, you are much better off watching The Dark Knight. Undoubtedly, that is the best film of the trilogy. It’s that simple. Do not compare this with its predecessor or else you will be disappointed. This does not mean however, that it is a bad film in a standalone sense. The stakes are much bigger and plot itself is quite intricate. The odds are always stacked against the good party, which makes the little triumphs even more significant. Even though the emotional canvas of the film might be more expansive, it eats into the intellectual side. Some of the decisions taken writing wise were very predictable. Main culprits here are the Catwoman arc, the nuclear device arc and to an extent, the Miranda Tate arc. This point is clearer after one sees the movie.

There are also some other significant details that cause problems. Surprisingly, the time length is not one of them. For the 2 hrs 45 minutes, a lot unfolds on screen to keep the viewer occupied. First and foremost, it has got to do with Bane’s mask and dialogue delivery. A lot of the time I found the dialogues by Bane muffled and unclear, due to the mask. Please make the distinction; they were audible, just unclear. This handicapped my engagement with Bane to a certain extent. I do not know what alternatives could have been taken but this aspect causes a hindrance. If I recall The Dark Knight, I remember I could quote almost all the lines of The Joker – ‘Why so serious’, ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you…stranger’, ‘Why so serious?’ ‘We are the entertainment for tonight’ ‘Do you know how I got these scars?’ amongst others. I still remember them off the top off my head. The lack of clarity hindered the same impact of Bane’s dialogues. It isn’t Tom Hardy’s fault really. His expressions are still terrific. It’s more of a technical flaw. I loved the concept of taking control of a city from the sewers – the underground, per se. However, another big letdown was the conventional leap of anarchy to anti-communism and fascism. Basically, Bane’s idea of freedom is Robespierre’s Reign of Terror (recall the French Revolution and the execution of King Loius XVI and the rich). This was too simplistic from a writer’s perspective. It was basically a reworking of Pol Pot’s regime (Cambodia) on screen. The Joker, on the other hand, had that enigma as a character which Bane does not. Bane may be a stronger villain, but he is a poor man’s villain. The Joker was the intellectual man’s villain.


The action sequences are truly grand and the ante has been upped considerably. Bane’s escape from the airplane is a majestic sequence. Anne Hathaway is truly sublime in the swiftly choreographed stunts. The gadgets are also better. There is a bike and a flying Bat-something (Batplane?) The sequence where Bane blows up the stadium is truly spectacular. Bruce Wayne trying to make it out of the pit of hell as the people chant in the background is perhaps the most moving scene of the whole film. Wait for the fight between the police and civilians in the streets of Gotham. All in all, there is plenty in store for action buffs.


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