Thursday, July 19, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

How do you make a sequel to one of the greatest movies ever made? How do you escape the Cinema Threequel Curse? How do you meet the expectations of millions and millions of fans who want something better than stuff that’s already perfect? The White Knight of Hollywood Chris Nolan takes all these questions, wraps them around an atom bomb and punches the trigger.

In the four years since 2008's The Dark Knight the fandom for Nolan’s Batman trilogy has grown to astronomical levels - you’d have to live on a different planet to not be familiar with these films. Nolan’s lavishness in imagination and passion for real emotions has made the first two parts transcend from mere films to spiritual experiences. The Dark Knight Rises is also not just a movie, it’s a moviemaking miracle and a buffet of eyeball orgasms – one that contains enough visceral thrills and proof of Chris Nolan well and truly rising as the superhero of the greedy movie industry. Not only did he reject 3D because he didn’t want to shoot in a format just to charge people more, but he also shot almost half the runtime of the movie in groundbreaking, spectacular IMAX. There are plenty of big action scenes and excellent character moments, and it makes for a sprawling epic in every possible way, the darkest, most complex segment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. 

If Batman Begins was a surprisingly serious and smart, no BS gritty opener and The Dark Knight was an extraordinary sequel of Godfatheresque levels, then The Dark Knight Rises improves in ambition upon the latter. The whole thing is so bombastic and behemoth in scale that every minute of it continually breaks the trilogy curse. In fact the stakes in The Dark Knight Rises are high enough to make its predecessors look quaint in comparison. 

The first two movies were character and technical triumphs on their own, but it is obvious that Nolan was saving all the goodies for last. The Dark Knight Rises just obliterates the bar with the gritty physical effects sprinkled with CGI. If The Dark Knight had an overturning truck, this one has a whole damn flying bat and exploding bridges. The effects are so realistic it’s impossible to make out between real and CGI, and they are seamlessly woven into the sweeping exhilaration of Wally Pfister’s cinematography. All doubts over Nolan not being a great action director are dispelled as the quick-cutting fight scenes from Batman Begins make way for long, uncut, brightly lit brawls between Batman and Bane and even spectacular large-scale chase sequences. The big prologue involving Bane has to be seen on the largest IMAX screen to be believed. 

It is in your best interest that you keep away from the story details before watching the film – know that the plot takes eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, and Bruce Wayne (Bale) has turned into a recluse, as the villainous Bane (Tom Hardy) not-so-silently plots an apocalypse. The film moves at a breakneck pace and eventually becomes sort of a Die Hard With a Vengeance with gigantic dosages of amphetamine, grit and pizzazz. 

At a mammoth two hours forty five minutes The Dark Knight Rises tends to have a slightly bloated middle section. In creating the biggest superhero blockbuster of all time, rough edges are inevitable, and editor Lee Smith is guilty as charged. The film shifts to a cave under the sands of Jodhpur and fast forwards three months without much consistency, and certain story threads just disappear leaving a couple of plot holes and unnecessary characters. These setbacks are mildly jarring but never catastrophic, because The Dark Knight Rises is an immersive experience. Over the next few weeks I foresee complaints along the lines of Bane not being as awesome a villain as Heath Ledger as the Joker, but that complaint becomes irrelevant, because no one can possibly be as awesome as the latter. The few flaws and an obvious plot twist never weigh down on the film. One never loses interest or gets confused, unlike the case in the Matrix, Star Wars and so many other threequels that are made with haughtiness and contempt for their audience. To make up for the choppy middle section, the third act of The Dark Knight Rises is basically an hour long post-apocalyptic action set piece and is one hell of a rousing stretch of eye and ear candy. It’s not just noise and fire, it is narrative coherence and a progression to an utterly fantastic finale that smashes your mind to smithereens.  

The recurring cast including Gary Oldman holds a more poignant resonance this time around, and Bale is particularly excellent as the tormented superhero. The pain, frustration and fear Wayne feels in losing everything in life is intimately felt by us, as is the strength he finds in himself to eventually Rise. Michael Caine is unforgettably haunting as the distraught butler seeing his surrogate son fall, radiating warmth and helplessness towards Wayne. Anne Hathaway isn’t as sexy as she is oddly endearing as the Catwoman, but Joseph Gordon Levitt is great as a Gotham cop. Bane may not be The Joker, but Tom Hardy does all he can to emote with his face covered - and in one incendiary scene after another mouths some cold, mechanical lines between reducing the Batman to pulp. The only real problem is that Bane’s voice is still not completely audible, and watching the movie in a theater that doesn’t have very high quality speakers will make Bane almost entirely incomprehensible. But even in the lowest quality speakers, Hans Zimmer’s music is guaranteed to blow you away. 

Even with its ginormous set pieces, monstrous scope and SFX, The Dark Knight Rises separates itself from other blockbusters because it rarely loses sight of its humanity and its mission to meet insane expectations. It’s outstanding entertainment, a victory of mad passion and cinematic artistry, with a sly final payoff that gives you goosebumps and leaves you desperately drooling for even more. 

(First published in MiD Day)


  1. So which is better. Avengers or TDKR?

  2. Thanks. Going to watch it on my b'day. 21st july. Nolan has perfect timing!!!

  3. thought u would give 4andhalf or five stars!! disappointed!! btw din read ur review..will read only after watching it. mofos BMS messed it up for me!!so going on sunday!!

  4. happy 2 hear dis after ur wild outburst on twitter.....cudn't get tickets for weekend at imax,prasads,hav 2 wait till tuesday.....

  5. The Dark Knight or The Dark Knight Rises?

  6. Did they show the "Man of Steel" teaser?

  7. Sadly the Man of Steel teaser isn't out yet.

  8. Nope. But I guess it should arrive online soon.

  9. Nolan has perfect timing for your b'day, But your B'day doesn't has the perfect timing for TDKR. It releases in india on 20th July 2012.

  10. Abe chutiyaa Avengers se compare bhi kaise kar sakata hai tu?
    Avengers banan hai na toh writers nahi CGI engineers ki jarurat hai

  11. Obvious plot twist ? Sorry mate, I think I am dumb or just too lost in the movie, I didn't see it coming.

    I also felt it difficult to hear Bane's dialogs, which made it less haunting.

    Oh I did see "Man of Steel" teaser, can't wait !

    Plot holes and extra characters ? I will have to watch again :P

  12. Just back from tdkr. Good entertaning movie but not extraordinary.didnt like the villain much.he looked like a human-bull-dog and always used to keep panting as he could not could he when he always kept his nose covered?His look was inspired form wwe wrestler vader

    The action scenes between bane and batman are not very good.I dont know if its the costume of batman that makes him so slow in his punches but it looked like a fight between two senior citizens.Batman dodges bullets with his costumes but gets stuck with a knife in belly and bleeds!The vfx used at some places is good though.I liked how wayne escapes from the prison and especially agreed with the philosophy that was given.That was a good sequence.

    btw,Nolan didnt have the balls to show batman died in the end,I bet if he had not compromised for the BO,tdkr would pretty much fail how it happens in hindi films.Fans ofc enjoyed it just how HP fans enjoy HP.


  13. Dude he is batman best known for disappearing and I guess Nolan paid more attention to his comebacks which defines the word rises I feel we don't need to know how he got out of the bat and travelled from here and there coz we are watching a superhero movie so something's are betters for us to think abt and enjoy it honestly I did like to see Bruce Wayne alive at the end coz u just can't kill the masked crusader just like iron man came down just in time to eat his showrma before the gap closed in The Avengers

  14. Abe bhosadi ke, TDKR tere grandpa ko bhi dikhayi na toh usake bhi balls gir jayenge. Tu kya cheez hai.
    Have you ever read single page of Batman comics? Do you know how it looks like? May be you were busy having orgasms with plastic Rakhi Sawant doll.
    Bane look is copied from ......teri maa ka bhosada.
    Abe land ke baal, google about bane and find out when it was first created. Nolan didn't have the balls? Do u even know about your balls? no yaar.. not that which is on your hairy chest. (stop looking at your chest)
    abe kaise log hai yaar, I feel pitty about you no not for you, about your parents, they have son like you.

  15. Agreed with every word you said here. What I particularly loved about this movie is how good Bale acted in this movie (am not a huge fan of his otherwise), how Hardy emoted in spite of his face being covered, the twist in the story of Blake aka Robin, and Miranda Tate. And the recurrent theme of an underlying love story in every movie of Nolan's.
    What I dont understand is people comparing Joker with Bane. Two of them are certainly different villians, Joker is more evil, Bane is driven by love for the woman who hates her Dad but still wants to fulfill his destiny , see how screwed up the latter is!
    My ONLY disappointment in the movie is how Bane dies.. What, that's it? A man so evil and strong and one cannon? No drama? And Catwoman. There could've certainly been more to her.
    In spite of all the questions you asked in the latter post, I will say that this is one of the best movies I've seen. And I sincerely hope Alfred wasnt dreaming at the end :)

  16. I think I saw this trailer in the movie last night. With Russell Crowe's narration. A short one, but very interesting.