Yes, Christopher Nolan, coming back after a very critically and commercially successful, The Dark Knight, was bound to be met with a lot of hype, star attraction and attention. Earlier, though no reports originated from either Warner Bros., or from Christopher Nolan himself, it seemed that Michael Caine and Gary Oldman were more interested in working on a third part of Christopher Nolan’s superbly constructed reboot of the Batman franchise. And then came the announcement—the Dark Knight Rises would be the third and final installment of the Dark Knight franchise from Nolan. He had his arguments—that a movie franchise couldn’t be equated to a monthly comic book franchise. And even then, I don’t believe Christopher Nolan went much further from a comic book analogy—comic books have particular story lines, which no doubt go for more than three issues, but they all come to an end nevertheless. Christopher Nolan’s story line too had to come to an end somewhere, and it seemed three movies would just have to do the trick.
Now one thing that must be borne in mind, that the Dark Knight, did not simply rest on the filmmaker’s shoulders. No, the most important clog in that wheel was a performance, that of the late Heath Ledger who played evil when he played one of Batman’s most charismatic villains, the Joker. In his final performance, Heath Ledger revamped the very concept of acting. His painted skin, his hanging tongue, the color of his hair, the very gait of his walk, everything went on to completely redefine the comic book mythology that we had known so long. Batman had suddenly become very real, dealing with issues much larger than just the well-being of Gotham…he was now fighting on a psychological level.
So now that Heath Ledger had set an unreachable niche in not just the Dark Knight franchise, but in the modicum of cinema as a whole, what could Christopher Nolan do to give us something worthy of a fitting finale? He took the right path out of it, he gave us something to deal with on the macro scale—he gave us the end and destruction of Gotham as a whole. And who better to bring on such villainy eight years since the death of the Joker—the ultimate madman on earth, Bane.
So the movie picks off from where it had been left off. Eight years had passed, the Batman was living out the punishment of Harvey “Two-Face” Dent’s crimes and with the use of the Dent Act, all of Gotham’s organized crime had been wrapped up from the face of the city. Only issue being, the Batman was still being hunted, even though there had been no citing of the Batman for the past eight years. And perhaps everything would have remained that way, if only Selina Kyle (a tongue waggling Anne Hathaway) hadn’t stolen Bruce Wayne’s mother’s pearl necklace. Only Mr. Wayne realizes that she wasn’t after the necklace, she was after his fingerprints on the safe!
And then begins Bane’s nefarious plot to bring Gotham to a stand still. Commissioner Gordon (played once more by the ever dependable Gary Oldman) is attacked by Bane, though he is just about able to escape, rescued by an honest police officer, Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and slowly, the world around them starts to fall into a state of anarchy. Bane is everywhere, a nuclear bomb is set to go off, Selina Kyle is double-crossed, even though she manages to escape, and abductions and murders start everywhere in Gotham.
How long could he resist? To watch the city his father had built just fall just fall away into dust? No. And the Batman comes out of hiding, to fight once again, to get the bad guys out, to defend the good. He is hunted by the police (except Commissioner Gordon who shares the Batman’s secret), but that does not slow him down.
I won’t go on to reveal the entire story. You get the idea. World as we know it collapses, out comes the Batman, he fights, he hurts, he gets hurt, he fights back again and then he takes it all on. That you all know.
But how do I rate it as a movie? With all the excitement and hope that surrounded this movie’s release, how does it finally fare amongst viewers?
To be very honest, the Dark Knight Rises both impresses and depresses. On several counts.
How does the movie impress?
- There could not be a more fitting end to the Dark Knight trilogy. Because unlike the second part, where the threat to Gotham is left in suspense, here chaos breaks through the central nervous system of the city, because Bane takes it to another level altogether.
- Hans Zimmer excels, his rabid chant of megalomania rips through the superb canvas of one of Nolan’s masterpieces. The chant, “Deshi Basara” is Moroccoan for “rise” and no one other than him could have made it sound so uniquely inspiring.
- Bane’s jacket. It looked half swiss army jacket, and half French revolutionary jacket, giving the right mix of anarchy and revolution, which was Bane’s ulterior philosophy in the whole movie.
- Anne Hathaway. She does what she was taken in the movie for, gets all our tongues wagging. In that polyurethane-coated spandex suit of hers, Catwoman has never looked more ravishing. It is a delight to watch her perform her action sequences, drive the Batpod, and kick some real ass.
- The plot. It was a fitting end to the Dark Knight Franchise. Nothing psychological was dished out, everything came down to the final blow.
- Keeping Blake’s character in suspense right till the very end, till he is revealed to be Robin was a masterstroke. Now, with the Dark Knight franchise coming to an end, no one would mind Nolan beginning a Robin franchise. It was just that well done.
And then how does it go on to depress us?
- Tom Hardy. While it true that no one other than Bane could have given us the ending that was played out before us, Tom Hardy was a complete mismatch in his role. He didn’t inspire fear, his voice was anything but frightening, he took the movie completely away from the desired katharsis.
- Christopher Nolan had no business in reducing Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth to a guest appearance. As one of the principal protagonists of the earlier two Batman movies, Alfred was always seen as the moral voice of reason. To shift that on to Bruce Wayne in this installment, particularly when it was the closing film, was completely uncalled for.
- The chaos in the screenplay trying to depict the chaos in the story line was too far-fetched an idea to be implemented for easy viewing. The amalgamation did not work, Mr. Nolan, sorry.
- The initial 30 minutes of the film were boring to say the least. This was not Christopher and his brother, Jonathan Nolan’s best work. The kind of beginnings that Batman Begins and the Dark Knight had achieved, this time was a complete let down.
Alright, so the pros outweigh the cons. But four cons is much more than Christopher Nolan can bear on his shoulders—particularly since he is the maker of The Prestige, The Dark Knight and Inception. The Dark Knight Rises could have been a much better film. But it is also one of the finest movies ever made. Such a fallacy has perhaps never existed in the world of cinema. So, do we rise, or do we fall?
- Happy Birthday, Christopher Nolan: The ‘Dark Knight’ Trilogy Director Turns 42! (splashpage.mtv.com)
- Read About the Bane Origin Sequence Cut From ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (slashfilm.com)
- Bringing Nolan’s Batman to Comics (ign.com)
- Feature – The Curtain Closes on Christopher Nolan’s Batman. (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- The Dark Knight Rises: The Underappreciated Bad Guy (moviesfilmsandflix.com)
- Here’s My Spoiler-Free Review of The Dark Knight Rises (slog.thestranger.com)
- Early Buzz: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Delivers On Lofty Expectations (slashfilm.com)
- ‘Dark Knight’ Origins: Sound Design, Bane’s Voice & Concept Images, Inspiration for Heath Ledger’s Joker (slashfilm.com)
- ‘Dark Knight’ rises to perfect ending (lfpress.com)
- Batman in Film (burkpkrohe.wordpress.com)