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Ronita Torcato

A little chit, a little chat, a little bit of this & that;meaning news, views & lotsa reviews from an independent journo based in Bombay aka Mumbai


The Dark Knight Rises review

The Dark Knight Rises
Starring:  Christian Bale,Michael Caine,Tom Hardy,Gary Oldman,Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson,Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Matthew Modine, Cillian Murphy,Tom Conti
Director: Christopher Nolan

Don't be fooled by posters proclaiming the end of the caped crusader  in Christopher Nolan's  third (and concluding?) chapter of his Batman trilogy which began with BatMan Begins (2005) followed by The Dark Knight ( 2008) It could well be a cunning ploy on the part of WB to pull in a large audience. Only see how Marvel produced a brand new SpiderMan ( Andrew Garfield)  barely five years after Tobey McGuire's outings. DC Nation has already screened First Look of the new three part Bat Man Of Shanghai animated short series set in an alternate universe  in 1930's China. And did you know a new  SuperMan film (Man of Steel) is  in the pipeline.

So let me shout it from the rooftops ( or correctly, this review )  BatMan 3 ends with a whopper of a finale that can only continue to feed the franchise. And no, I am NOT complaining.
Why? Because for the most part, The Dark Knight Rises lives up to the hype.Box office success might have eluded films like Godfather 3, Alien 3, Superman III and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. But BatMan 3 has all the makings of a massive hit. Long as the film is, there's never a dull moment. Thrills,chills and spills, The Dark Knight Rises has them all. In abundance.

Does this mean it's pitch-perfect? Far from it.Let me elaborate.
Nolan’s script, co-authored with his brother Jonathan,straddles themes of terrorism, economic collapse, political and social anarchy  all of which have been  traversed by other films, too numerous to name. Gotham City, In BatMan 3 as in 1 and 2, is besieged by psychos. This time around, the threat comes from nuclear-armed revolutionaries.

Set eight years after the events of "The Dark Knight" when Batman vanished into the night,choosing to turn from hero to fugitive by assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent (  Aaron Eckhart )  the  narrative indicates that  the deception spun at Police Commissioner  ( Gary Oldman) Gordon's behest, worked for a while as crime was crushed by the  Dent Act. But then, the situation changes;with the (eye-popping) destruction in mid-air of a CIA plane carrying terrorists and a Russian nuclear scientist  and in Gotham City, the  arrival of CatWoman (Anne Hathaway)  a beautiful burglar with a mysterious agenda. She is connected to a bunch of financial crooks and Bane, the hulking, masked terrorist  (played by Tom - Warrior - Hardy )

In his grand,grand mansion,  the reclusive Bruce (Christian Bale) Wayne ( channelling  Howard Hughes) is hectored by loyal butler Alfred ( Michale Caine) to get out of the slough of despond in which he has chosen to wallow. He is no longer the man he used to be and may be no match for Bane, rises to the occasion to  combat Bane much in the manner of  gladiators in a Roman arena. Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) traces  Wayne's journey from an anguished, angry guilt-ridden victim of evil, to a misunderstood conscientous crime-buster who refuses to kill.

If Bale again playing the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman affected a low pitched timbre as the caped vigilante, Bane has a raspy Darth Vader-like  voice issuing from behind the Hannibal Lecter like mask. Bane is the socio-political equivalent of Lecter who elected to eat human flesh, while Bane and his minions want to devour society.
It's tempting to compare Bane with the Joker but I won't. Suffice to say, The Joker was lunatic anarchy personified whereas Bane, who is literally and figuratively the bane of BatMan's life has a poliitical agenda, not unlike the Soviet Commies and revolutionaries of the French Revolution.

There are very very violent sequences evoking Occupy Wall Street  and the storming of the Bastille, except that the Bastille had no prisoners, while Gotham's prison is teeming with the criminally-minded.To really enjoy the film, it is necessary to revisit ( re-see) BatMan Begins when Wayne met Henri Ducard, (Liam Neeson ) a member of the League of Shadows who trained him in the martial arts .But Wayne discovers the League is not all that it's cracked up to be and  returns to Gotham.  The League and other events are referenced in dialogue, not flashbacks.
As in T S Eliot's Wasteland,we realise the end is in the beginning.

Bane's avowed objective is to  unite the public against the capitalists and authorities using violence as a means.
A 'people’s court' presided over by Cillian Murphy  (Dr Crane in BatMan 1) dispenses death or exile sentences to "reactionaries" harkingto the Reign of Terror unleashed by Robespierre and the the Committee of Public Safety  CPS in France which executed  counter-revolutionaries, clergy, aristocrats and royals. No prizes for guessing whose side BatMan is on.

Like Keanu Reaves Neo in The Matrix, BatMan's character echoes Christ's coming to save humanity,indeed, Bale looks remarkably Christlike in certain scenes, as he endows the title role with gravitas and sincerity. The rest of the cast also give their best, the film has only two pieces of note, one by Ravel, the other being a soulful Star Spangled Banner sung by an angelic little boy in a football stadium. But Hans Zimmer's music score is studded with thumping percussion (and of course, the haunting theme)
To sum up, what was stated at the outset: the film is far from pitch perfect.It lacks the brilliant dialogues (in BatMan Begins)  and the  intellectual stimulation ( of The Dark Knight)  but compensates with an emotional and spiritual quotient ( Hope,Faith) sizzling action  and great acting. It is then, in the end, memorable.Don't miss it.

ps Like The Hulk in Avengers, Bane has a rather tenous India connection. The Dark Knight Rises was partly shot in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

pps– A masked gunman who has been identified as a 24 year old white male named James Holmes  was responsible for the massacre of innocents at a midnight premiere of the movie in Denver,USA



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About Ronita Torcato

Torcato Agnela Ronita
An incomplete round-up of movie news, features & views from an independent journo & (dare I say it:-) film critic in Mumbai



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