The Dark Knight Rises is closure at its best: wise use of classic components like a brute villain, a slowly growing film that takes its time to revel in it’s linear structure, establishing every detail for you to absorb and an explosive yet comforting end. Do yourself a favour and don’t compare the film to its predecessors. Watch The Dark Knight Rises the way it should be watched: not in 3D, and with an open, patient mind. You will be blown away.
Christopher Nolan really knows how to play with our minds. He sparked a whole new world of ideas in our heads with The Dark Knight in 2008, and of course, had a field day with Inception, but if you pay enough attention, you’ll realize that he isn’t trying to impress us with The Dark Knight Rises. Nor is he merely telling a story (or closing one, in this case). As a sensible filmmaker and storyteller, he’s left the best (read: eccentric, layered and mind-boggling) parts behind, with the peak of the trilogy, which was The Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight Rises is what a finale should be; all-encompassing yet mysterious enough to hold one’s intrigue, mature, and not experimental in it’s treatment of characters and individual scenes and it builds up to a spectacularly fulfilling, almost calming climax and end.
The film begins with a near-dystopian Gotham, a shattered Bruce Wayne and no sign of Batman, 8 years since the tragic night he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s wayward crimes. By now, Gotham has taken an economical and global hit (very well merged with real-life crises) and Bruce Wayne shows no sign of returning as the city’s “masked vigilante”.
The slowly panned out first half establishes all it’s characters and the scenario with meticulous detail. This could have been an impatient viewer's grudge with the film, but Nolan gives you enough to bite on before an impending explosion of a second half.
We are introduced to Bane (Tom Hardy), a muscular masked terrorist leader who intends on destroying Gotham City. While Hardy’s personality as Bane doesn’t match up to the sinister villains of the previous films (and it’s safe to say here that Ledger’s Joker is very hard to match up to), his sheer gritty look is enough to instill fear. Here his mask does the trick; often you can’t understand what he’s saying but you’re half expecting him to, at any moment, lose his temper and tear everything to pieces. His brute demeanor convinces you that he can break Batman apart, and that coupled with a looming fear is what classic villains are made of.
Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) a jewel thief who robs for survival, and has several heated interactions with Batman. Tradionally, she’s known as Bane’s aid, but in the film she follows her own trajectory. Hathaway is strong, witty and plays her part of the Catwoman (although she is never called that) with much panache. Marion Cotillard plays the millionaire Miranda Tate who is a part of the Wayne Enterprises board, and a means of support for Batman as she encourages him to stand up to his responsibility.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, the young police officer is a symbol of our voices as an audience. Through the film we keep expecting Batman to rise, and we never lose faith in him, and Gordon-Levitt’s character recreates the faith that the film continuously needs to fall back on. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman resume their characters as Alfred, Fox and Gordon respectively. All of this is familiar territory; a predictable build up to Bane’s terrorist plans and as an audience that has seen the first two films, we know what’s in store for us.
However, as Batman rises and the film starts rolling into action, every moment that you witness is filled with the baggage of 7 years and 2 films, and Nolan presents every moment victoriously. He gives you what you want to see, triumphs what needs to be triumphed, and slashes what needs to burn. And therefore, unlike The Dark Knight (and my intention here is not to compare the films but our reception of them), this film doesn’t knock the ground off your feat, but manages to restore it back in place for your sense of stability. The Dark Knight Rises is mature story telling; it closes ends but also leaves a tiny mischievous slit open. It has a barrage of inspiring dialogue and superhero morals soaked in action-heavy sequences that are visually epic (kudos to cinematographer Wally Pfister and Hans Zimmer for the audio-visual treat). Essentially, the film gives you everything that you would need in a finale. You might have wanted more unexpected craziness and more edge of the seat moments (the expectations this film was riding on was almost unreal). However, The Dark Knight Rises is more about what you need as a viewer (and a follower of the trilogy), which is a fluctuating closure: one that’s classic and mature, and yet satisfies your need to be surprised. And for recognizing and executing that, take a bow Nolan.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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