Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Before I say anything about the movie, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the senseless shooting at the movie premier of the Dark Knight Rises in Colorado. Killing the innocent is an unforgivable crime and I hope the accused is brought to justice so that the families of the departed can get some closure.

And now for my review...


After the stupendous success of the earlier Batman movies (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), the expectations from Christopher Nolan's next were sky high. Personally speaking, I came out of the movies, one happy customer. I think watching the movie in IMAX may have also contributed to that happiness! I read that The Dark Knight Rises was the final installment of Nolan's Batman trilogy but after having watched it, I can't help but think otherwise!

****Plot Synopsis****

The film opens far away from Gotham city with the kidnapping of a Russian nuclear scientist Dr, Pavel by a terrifying herculean masked man (Tom Hardy) and his henchmen. 

Back in Gotham, the audience is reminded that after being accused of killing Harvey Dent and wreaking havoc in Gotham city, Batman vanishes from the public eye. Fast forward to 8 years later. Gotham city is a thriving and peaceful city. Its residents are commemorating the 8th death anniversary of their late civic hero Harvey Dent. Commisioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is wracked with guilt of covering up the truth about Dent's death and Batman's innocence but he is unable to read out a written speech he had prepared revealing the truth to the public. A young patrol officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is one of the few people who believe that Batman is innocent and that he must return to Gotham. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is an haggard crippled recluse who is on a self-imposed exile in Wayne Manor. His faithful housekeeper Alfred (Michael Caine) tries to talk some sense into him but to no avail. A charming investor and board member at Wayne enterprises, Miranda Tate (Marion Cottilard) seeks Bruce's support in investing in her clean energy project designed to harness fusion power.  Meanwhile, a series of burglaries committed in stealth are uncovered leading to news of a "Cat burglar" on the prowl doing the rounds. During the same time, Bruce Wayne, discovers a young woman named Selena Kyle (Ann Hathaway) breaking an entry into his house. Before he can catch her, she escapes into the night swiftly. She steals Bruce's fingerprints for his unscrupulous business rival John Dagget. This burglary sets in motion a chain of events that forces Bruce Wayne/Batman out of hiding. 

While attempting to rescue an abducted congressman, Commissioner Gordon finds himself inadvertently dragged into the sewers and coming face to face with the masked man and his underground army. Gordon's written speech is stripped from him. He manages to escape but is severely wounded in the process. Blake, who has deduced the real identity of Batman comes to meet Bruce to convince him that Gotham City needs Batman. After some research, Bruce learns the identity of the man in the mask. His name is Bane, a mercenary who was trained under Ra's al Ghul (who was killed by Batman) and was once a member of The League of Shadows but was later excommunicated. Bruce realizes that Bane is a formidable opponent and the only way Gotham stands a chance against him is if the Batman is on their side. Bane, under the instruction of Dagget, hijacks the city's stock exchange and engineers risky investments using Bruce's stolen fingerprints thereby bankrupting Bruce and gaining considerable influence over Wayne enterprise. As a counter strategy, Bruce then makes a deal with Miranda Tate to exert enough control over Wayne enterprises to prevent Dagget from taking over completely. Bane kills Dagget to seize Wayne enterprises. Meanwhile, pretending to help Batman hunt for Bane, Catwoman betrays Batman and hands him over to the enemy. She does this out of fear for her life and later comes to regret this action. After being beaten to a semi-conscious state, Batman is thrown into a underground prison which is unescapable except for one instance several years ago when a child had escaped. Bane wants Batman to suffer mental torture and lets him live while watching on a screen what he does to Gotham City. Bane devises a decoy to send the entire police force looking for him in the sewers and traps them there. He then gains control of the Wayne reactor and replaces the core with a nuclear material with the help of the Russian scientist who he had kidnapped. He then unleashes a series of blasts within the city, destroys bridges, releases hardened prisoners, reveals the secret of Harvey Dent's death and turns the city into a state of chaos. He holds the whole city of Gotham hostage and threatens to detonate the nuclear bomb. While in his underground prison, Bruce learns that the child that had escaped was none other than the offspring of Ra's al Ghul. After a few failed attempts at escaping, he is successful and returns to Gotham. With the help of Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon and Blake, Batman has to stop the nuclear bomb from denoting and save Gotham. Is he successful in this mission? Well, you have to go and watch yourself! 

My thoughts....

This movie is full of action and thrills. The Batmobile is replaced by the even more futuristic 'The Bat' (a flying gizmo that helps Batman get out of unimaginably sticky situations). With regard to the characters, it helps if you remember the earlier movies because there are several references to and appearance of past characters. The direction is technically brilliant as was in the case of the previous two movies. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman reprise their roles and are at their dependable best. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is very likable and if there is ever a sequel to this movie, you can bet he will be in it (that's all I'm saying!). The lovely Marion Cottilard has a blink-and-miss role but plays her part well. Tom Hardy makes a menacing villain (case in point: all his steroid induced punches) but you can't help but miss the spine-chilling evil of Heath Ledger's Joker. At times, I was unable to understand what the character of Bane was saying. I found myself squinting and I swear my expression would have been one of trying to solve a very complicated math problem in my head! The surprise package in the movie is Ann Hathaway as Catwoman (although strangely, she isn't referred to as Catwoman even once). I didn't think she was sassy enough to play this part but she does it with ease. In conclusion, this is a movie worth watching because the story is gripping, the visuals are celluloid magic, the characters are engaging and you root for the Batman like never before. 

The Dark Knight Rises…..and how!!!

My rating for this movie is


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