The Dark Knight was the first movie to which I gave standing ovation in a theatre – the cinematic experience was so overwhelming that I could not stop myself from doing so. My friend was surprised at my reaction – ‘you generally do not react like this’, he said. Since then, I have given standing ovation to two other movies (‘Avatar’ for its sheer brilliance in conceptualizing an entirely new world and ‘Inception’ which was another masterstroke from Christopher Nolan). Naturally, I had humungous expectation from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ especially as it promised to be an ‘epic conclusion’ to the Dark Knight Legend.
It is almost a week since the ‘conclusion’ unfolded on the Silver Screen – there is no need to recommend or criticize the movie as almost all of you would have seen it by now. The reaction to the movie has been mixed – which comes as a surprise to me. Christopher Nolan had set the bar very high in The Dark Knight and it would have been a miracle if he would have exceeded that by a significant margin. So, it is okay that the miracle did not happen but to me The Dark Knight Rises is almost there (though it did not earn a standing ovation) – probably a 19 to The Dark Knight’s score of 20. Many have reasoned the absence of a villain as charismatic as Joker (played brilliantly by Late Heath Ledger) to be the ill of the movie while some have blamed the slow pace. They may be right in their own space (as watching movie is a very personal experience) but I would now try to put forth why the movie worked for me. Here are my reasons of already watching the movie twice and planning to go for at least one more screening:
It’s definitely a Redemption Movie: With this being the final part of the franchise, I think redemption works well as the theme of the movie. If scrutinized closely, redemption guides the instinct of almost all the main characters including the negative ones (who want to redeem themselves probably in a different way). And as an avid movie fan, I know how much these redemption movies help me to get over troubled times. This one would definitely feature high in my viewing list the next time I am down and out.
The movie is dark: The Dark Knight was dark in its theme and this one holds onto that - Thematically perhaps it is even darker than its predecessor. There is certain gloom in the setting which is often disturbed by the glimmer of hope. And though the movie at times move at leisurely pace, the frames continue to brim with certain intensity which were absent in the recent superhero blockbusters like ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ (I thoroughly enjoyed both of them). To those who complained of movie being lethargic – I think Nolan was setting pieces for a perfect end to each of the character.
It throws some interesting questions: What if the deprived start staking claims on the wealth so measly distributed and that too violently? Urban terrorism is an uncomfortable thought and the movie smartly scratches the surface and meanders away (rightly so!! The genre is Superhero and an excessive focus would have been detrimental). It also asks difficult questions on ‘Morality’, ‘Righteousness’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Societal Decay’ and ‘Corruption’. Definitely the underlying theme is more relevant in today’s world.
Selina Kyle: Anne Hathway as the wily Cat is a worthy addition to the legend. She is crafty, elegant resourceful, agile and dare I say Sexy in her Catwoman avatar. Guided by a sole motive of beginning her life with a clean slate, she makes some pretty interesting choices adding necessary spice to the movie. Can we have a Catwoman series too, Mr. Nolan?
Distinct moral stamp: Let me confess – I was never a big fan of Batman until the Nolan franchise happened. I was more fascinated by a Super Commando Dhruv (though his character seems to be slightly inspired by the Batman himself) or a Spiderman. But, Nolan brought some kind of innate earnestness and moral authority which made this Batman distinct from other Superheroes. This is not to undermine other superheroes – they are all good and morally upright but Christian Bale’s depiction has a more humane touch. His Batman seems to have a moral authority enjoyed by very few characters in the era of modern superheroes blockbusters – and this trait is exploited well in the last movie as well. Sample these:
Selina Kyle: ‘You don’t owe these people anymore. You have given them everything.’
Batman: ‘Not everything. Not Yet.’
Similarly, he asked Catwoman not to use gun while fighting a group of trained mercenaries – He would not kill. As a symbol, he is incorruptible.
Antagonist: Bane is no Joker – and probably this is where the movie is receiving lot of flak. But hey c’mon – why the hell one has to make comparisons (though I admit it is a difficult task to stay away from it too). Look at him as a standalone antagonist and he passes with flying colour. Yes – the muffled voice makes him less menacing than a flamboyantly maniac Joker despite having a dominating physical presence. And yet he is a great foil to the Batman, hell-bent on ‘breaking his body and then his soul’. He is more of a villain than Dr. Connors of Spiderman or Loki of Avengers any day.
Special Effects and Action Pieces: Without doubt first rate!! - Especially the one in which Bane highjacks and crashes the airplane. The mayhem at the football field and the set piece in the climax are perfect for the culmination of an epic series.
There is a new entrant: In the last edition Nolan gave us Bat-mobike and this one he moves a step forward to give us a Bat and the best thing is that the flying machine gives us some stunning sequences.
Supporting Cast: The big guns return to blaze the screen again – Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Michael Cain have relatively lesser screen time and yet they prove their worth in those. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake is another welcome addition to the cast who adds weight to the moral fibre of the story. I think that the character of Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard could have been explored a bit more but nonetheless she adds a different angle to the movie.
Hope prevails: Like any superhero movie, the film establishes that ultimately hope prevails.
And Finally: Because I think it is fitting finale to a defining movie franchise which has taken this genre to a new level.