Movie Reviews

‘The Dark Knight Rises’: A potent end to a perfect saga

By Zaki JufriMovies - 19 July 2012 4:35 PM | Updated 4:29 PM

‘The Dark Knight Rises’: A potent end to a perfect saga

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na… Batman!

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

What happens to superheroes when crime is on the slide and there’s no else to save? They just hang up their fancy suit, and wait for the next seasonal trend when latex is back in fashion again.

That’s basically what Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) did: stash away his Batsuit, walked around his mansion with a cane like Dr. House and saying stuff like “there’s nothing out there for me.”

Think again Mr. Wayne. Before we know it, he’s zipping around Gotham on the Batpod, saving the day again.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is the epic finale to director Christopher Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader.  

Also read: Why ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will save the summer

One of this summer’s most anticipated blockbusters; it is the antidote for moviegoers looking for a superhero movie without all that machismo and spandex of ‘The Avengers’ or the angsty teenage drama of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’.

It’s a movie like nothing else we’ve ever seen – a dark and monolithic superhero movie with all the technological wizardry through the eyes of an auteur.  The themes explored -- symbolic heroism, moral hypocrisy, class-warfare, the persistence of evil – provide the film with the philosophical heft as Nolan and co-screenwriters, his brother, Jonathan and David Goyer survey the notion of (super)heroism and its unintended consequences.

Anne Hathaway looks good in a skin-tight latex jumpsuit. Meeooowwwwrrr

Eight years have passed since the events of ‘The Dark Knight’ and Bruce Wayne has been holed up in his mansion. Thanks to draconian laws set-up in honour of the late Harvey Dent, the streets of Gotham have been swept clean of organised crime.

But Wayne springs back into action when a cat-burglar (Anne Hathaway) breaks in and steals his mother’s necklace. The theft sets off a chain of unfortunate events that leads Batman to face Bane (Tom Hardy), a monstrous and forbidding masked-figure who calls himself “Gotham’s reckoning” and who leads the city into an Orwellian nightmare after overthrowing the status quo.

Also read: Batman versus Spider-Man: Who will save the day?

The performances delivered are top-notch with returning actors Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman delivering as expected. After writing off Rachel Dawes in ‘The Dark Knight’, Nolan provides two potential love interests for Bruce Wayne/Batman – the do-gooder socialite Miranda Tate played by the warm Marion Cotillard, and Hathaway offers just the right amount of mischief and connivance as cat-burglar Selina Kyle who is only looking out for Number One. While Batman and Kyle cross path only several times, one can immediately sense the attraction crackling between the two.

Tom Hardy is menacing as Bane. Who would have thought that the producers would pick this shadowy masked figure who looks more like a crazed WWE wrestler as the follow-up villain to Heath Ledger’s Joker?

“The man who broke the Bat” in the comics is a beast of a villain (definitely not the cartoonish version in 1997’s ‘Batman & Robin’), hell-bent on the annihilation of Gotham and his associations with Batman’s arch-nemeses The League of Shadows puts him right in Batman’s crosshairs. Although half of his face is masked, Hardy delivers a mesmerising performance with his piercing eyes and powerful body language.

Bane (Tom Hardy) is the umm, bane of Batman's existence in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Another new character, John Blake – played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt – adds more drama to the plot. While there has been plenty of talk and rumour about this new character receiving ample screen time, Gordon-Levitt delivers a decent performance as the young, idealistic, hot-headed police patrolman who finds himself under the wing of Commissioner Gordon. We’re pretty sure that Warner Bros have big things planned for Blake.

But it is Christian Bale whose performance is at his best, he carries the film from start to end credits.  Over the course of the trilogy, Bale, as the franchise’s emotional centre, has grasped the understanding of “wearing masks” and the projection of different personalities. Once again, he gives his best performances when Wayne is defeated and incapacitated, but yet fighting the good fight within; eventually ending up in a deep dark hole that started his journey and then struggling to climb out of it.

(SPOILER ALERT: Highlight to read) Guess what is John Blake's middle name? It starts with 'R'.

Director Christopher Nolan has an uncanny ability for producing some of the best and cerebral blockbusters over the past decade. While other filmmakers head straight for popcorn entertainment, Nolan skips the banality and focuses on the higher concept (plus the name actors and eye candy). He feeds his audience with what they want: striking images and the concepts that surround them, and in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ case, Batman’s resurrection story and battling the demons that made him Batman.

From the amazing action set pieces -- the opening high-flying escape without the use of CGI, the Stock Exchange hold-up, the finale street brawl – the cinematography (no 3D here, only 70mm IMAX), the haunting soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and top-notch production design, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a veritable audio-visual feast.

So what if the movie is overwrought with confusing narratives and complicated explanations, it delivers what it promises and that is a satisfying close to the Batman chapter. But is it the end? Nolan and Bale will not have anything to do with Batman after this but no one said that his legend will not continue. We will just leave it as that.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is now showing in theatres everywhere