The Dark Knight Rises

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Note: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is not the sequel to ‘Black Knight’ starring Martin Lawrence.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is perhaps the most anticipated film of the year so far (arguably surpassing ‘The Avengers’, and ‘The Hunger Games’). I took a break from microblogging on my social media accounts because I didn’t want to read anything about the film. My expectations needed to be reasonable. As with every movie, the less I know prior to seeing it, the better. For a moment, let’s ignore the hype, and focus on reviewing the film as a film.

I promise to keep this review spoiler-free, but if you don’t want to know plot details, skip over to the next paragraph. It’s been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), billionaire Bruce Wayne in costume, defeated a villain who was intent on destroying Gotham. But, the superhero was blamed for the death of a district attorney, Harvey Dent, whose work posthumously cleaned up streets and filled prisons under the powers granted by the Dent Act. Since then, the caped crusader hasn’t been seen, which is also true for Bruce, who remains in self-imposed seclusion. He can’t even stop a burglar, disguised as a waitress, from stealing his mother’s pearls. But, there is a villainous threat to Gotham City in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy), a thug with a metal cage on his face. As Bane’s plan unfolds, Wayne must decide whether to bring Batman out of retirement. And if The Dark Knight does indeed return, can he save Gotham city before it’s too late?

Yes, this is a comic book movie, but as I watching ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, I forgot I was watching a comic book film. ‘TDKR’ is more grounded in reality than any other comic book picture I have ever seen. With plot points involving financial meltdowns, occupy riots, nuclear weapons, and terrorism, there are clear parallels between this fictitious comic book world and present-day America. Batman does not have special powers and is only present for no more than 15% of the picture.

Christian Bale’s Batman growl might not be appreciated by everyone – I think it brings a high level of intensity to the character, and I admire it. Tom Hardy delivers very strong work as Bane, even if his most of his face is obscured by the masked cage on his face. Minor quibble – it was a challenge to understand some of what Bane was saying because of this. Sounding like an odd cross between Sean Connery’s love child and Darth Vader, he utters lines of anarchy in chilling fashion. Director Christopher Nolan knows something other filmmakers need to learn – you do not overexploit a great villain. Hardy is onscreen for the right amount of time, and while it may be a flashy performance, it doesn’t dominate the movie. Returning from the previous two films are Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman. Newcomers include Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon Levitt. It is cinematic heaven watching this amazing cast at work. No one is winking at the camera – they all take their roles very seriously. And no one gets lost in the shuffle – every cast member has his/her time to shine.

I’d like to credit cinematographer Wally Pfister for his wonderful work here, which is surely deserving of Oscar consideration come awards season. Same goes for the sharp script by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan. Minor criticisms – as mentioned above, it’s difficult to understand some of Bane’s dialogue (I recommend the use of subtitles if you’re watching this on DVD/Blu Ray); also, some of the plot lines do meander a little bit. However, ‘TDKR’ mostly justifies its length of 165 minutes.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a completely satisfying final entry to one of the greatest trilogies in motion picture history. An ambitious, brutal, gorgeous epic – what a spectacular ending!

– Jerry Nadarajah

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