Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

With a rather vague recollection of the first two Batman movies, I waltzed into the cinema on a Saturday morning to catch the third and final installation to the critically acclaimed Batman series by director, Christopher Nolan. After watching the movie, I could not help but think of the Colorado massacre which took place on 20 July 2012. I was in Penang on vacation when I read the news and I was deeply sadden by it. So many innocent lives were tragically and brutally ended. It made no sense. I was especially affected when I read about the death of a 6 year old girl who was said to be "excited about life" and had just learned how to swim. I couldn't help but wonder what was going on in the mind of the shooter before and during this attack on innocent civilians. My condolences go out to all the victims of this horrific tragedy and though I may just be an ignorant Malaysian, I truly feel for them and it is my hope that their families will find healing and solace in the days to come. 

Review on The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is shrouded in darkness and mystery. Much like the reboot of the Spider-man series, the movie displays a much darker hero, conflicted and divorced from the world around him. Our hero, Bruce Wayne/ Batman (Christian Bale) has been a recluse for the past eight years, having taken the blame for a crime he did not commit. We see him a broken man, having lost his love and reason for living, he sees no reason to move on. He hides himself in a secluded wing of his house where he is served his meals and does not associate with the rest of society. The only person he chooses to come in contact with is his trusty serviceman, Alfred (brilliantly portrayed by veteran actor,  Micheal Caine) who takes care of him and counsels him. 

We learn that in the absence of Batman, a series of crimes have been plaguing Gotham City, including those of the notorious Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) who denies her romantic inclination towards our hero, although it is obvious right from the beginning of the movie when she breaks into his safe and steals his mother's pearl necklace. Our hero does not seem affected by these crime waves and chooses to lead his solitary life, that is until the appearance of our mega-villain, Bane (Thomas Hardy). Wreaking inexplicable violence and causing senseless mayhem becomes Bane's game as he unleashes his reign of terror on the residents of Gotham City. He seems to harness intense feelings of hatred and rage towards our hero but his motivations remain unclear for most of the movie. 

What is a superhero movie without some romance? Romance comes in the form of a "lovely young woman" by the name of Miranda (Marion Cotillard). After hearing about her from various sources, Wayne finally comes face to face with her at a charity event. The two form a romantic attraction. They of course proceed to spend a night together and he seems to genuinely care for her after casting away his most faithful friend, Alfred after some revelations in one of the most touching scenes of the movie. We feel that at this point, Batman is ready to move on. 

After a series of events, including a betrayal from our lovely Catwoman, Wayne is captured and tortured by Bane. He is thrown into a prison underground after being brutally beaten and suffers a pretty serious back injury. While in the outside world, Bane continues his reign of terror on the citizens of Gotham City and forces Wayne to watch. Bane also sets a bomb in motion and kills the only person who can disable it. In the prison, Wayne learns that the only way of escape is to climb up a wall and jump up to a platform before being able to reach freedom. Many have tried and failed. He also has a vision of his dead mentor Ra's Al Ghul and makes the conclusion that Bane is his son and all this is done to avenge his father's death. He spends about two months in jail under the care of the prison doctor and one of its dwellers. He makes an attempt to escape from the prison but to no avail. After learning that fear is the strongest motivation for his survival, Wayne manages to escape from the prison and makes his way to save the people of Gotham City by defeating Bane.

Gotham City is in tatters and many are captured and sentenced to death or "exile" which you will see is pretty much the same thing. Among those captured is Wayne's love interest, Miranda which he vows to save. In a final showdown between Wayne and Bane, shocking revelations come into play which make Bane's motivation somewhat clearer before he is eliminated. But that's not the end to the epic trilogy as there has to be some other element to take care of. Yes, the bomb. This is quickly taken care of by Batman in his final colossal heroic act and contribution to the citizens of Gotham City. 

After watching the movie, the second thought which came to my mind is that I really ought to re-watch the first two Batman movies. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the finale to the trilogy, there is no room for comparison when the other two movies are just vague recollections. I must say however, that Christopher Nolan is a brilliant director. I was totally blown away by Inception and I fail to see any reason why this brilliant director would cease to amaze me with his future work. Bale is brilliant as always and Hathaway fits right into her Catwoman role and costume and is much more convincing than the Catwoman featured in previous movies. Michael Caine is effective as always and manages to bring out a tear or two in some dramatic exchanges between Wayne and him. I did not care much for Bane as the villain though. No doubt Hardy does a good job inflicting terror on the audience, but there is just not enough for me to truly understand his motivation although an attempt is made to address it at the end of the movie.

After all is said, The Dark Knight Rises still delivers as a riveting, engrossing, and exciting watch and a fitting ending to an epic trilogy. Highly recommended for all movie-goers.