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    Dec 2009


    Default Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

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    Star Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathway, Morgan Freeman
    Director: Christopher Nolan
    Producer: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
    Music Directer: Hans Zimmer
    Genre: Superhero

    “I'm still a believer in Batman, even if you're not,” says a young Sergeant to the billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), knowing that he is Batman. Wayne, limping on one foot, down and dejected, has been hiding in his mansion for years. Suddenly, as you would expect, his Gotham City needs him again. So do all cinema audiences – practically all of them are as firm believers in Batman as that Sergeant, it seems.

    Event pictures with unimaginable budgets to create an incredibly believable alternate world, if you haven’t noticed lately, have turned comic books into mythology for adults. These aren’t kids’ movies anymore. If anything the children will get alienated by the serious mumbo-jumbo of this film. Batman’s a religion. Director Christopher Nolan is a modern-day Valmiki in that sense.

    There are three things he can’t tinker with. One, since this is a super –hero film, there will be a super-hero. He will have an arch-enemy. And he will need to save the world against the brute forces of that crazy villain. Those things are there. Within this old construct, Nolan must introduce nuances to zap and tickle the audience’s brains still. He managed this brilliantly with The Dark Knight. Which explains the unprecedented hype around this final instalment of the Batman trilogy. Is the hype worth it? No hype is. Is the film over-rated? Maybe. But that's always a problem with the rating, not the film.

    Usually a late-riser, I wake up a few minutes after dawn to catch the first show of this Dark Knight Rising, knowing millions of pilgrims around the world will be doing the same. They may have realised this comes nowhere close to the novelty of The Dark Knight. But you know that won't deter followers. No objective dissent is likely to be tolerated either. That’s how religions work.

    What makes Batman, besides his Batmobile, and now the Batcycle, different from other super-heroes is that he’s extremely vulnerable, almost human: one of us. The nuclear threat that Gotham City is under – quite like the real world we currently live in – may be hard for even super-heroes to save us from. The villain holds a grudge against the despotic rich. This is a film on class warfare. He attacks the Stock Exchange first, frees up convicts lying in jail, parts open the football field, decides to annihilate the whole city through a nuclear weapon that’s obviously reached wrong hands: “One man’s tool is another man’s weapon.” Finishing off an entire city would of course mean killing off the several, supposed have-nots he’s batting for as well. But that’s another matter. This is the latter part of the film. It grabs you by the eyeballs, mildly jolts your senses. Dark Gotham could well be Mumbai or New York City. The parallel is complete. It's scary and fun at the same time. You're stunned by the spectacle. And you don't need thick, fat 3D glasses for it.

    Like several Batman films, this one wholly belongs to the villain. Yet, body-builder Bane (Tom Hardy), with his face half covered, and his speech so garbled you can hardly tell what he’s saying, is not a patch on Heath Ledger’s memorable Joker. This is disappointing, given Bane is possibly more powerful than Batman himself. The writers probably make up for the lack of Bane’s charisma by slipping in lots of other characters ,and a stellar cast. There’s the petty thief Cat-woman (Anne Hathway), another millionaire Ms Tate (Marion Cotillard), besides of course the brilliant old-hands Michael Caine (as Alfred, the Butler), Morgan Freeman (as the Lucius Fox, Batman’s genius inventor) and Gary Oldman (Gotham City’s police commissioner). None, however, provide any relief from a deeply unromantic, humourless ride. Nobody was looking for comedy here. But some dark humour could have helped: “Why, so serious?” Am I comparing this too much with The Dark Knight? Oh, how can you not?

    ...being a human...



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