Film: "The Dark Knight Rises"; Actors: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy; Director: Christopher Nolan; Rating: ****
Once in every few years, a film's expectation reaches fever pitch. Yet, only a handful ever have lived up to it. The last of the "Batman Trilogy", to the delight of fans, does. That it does so, while continuing on the same themes it addressed before, is a feather hardly any film franchisee has claimed.
Seven years since Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) retired as Batman, a new villain Bane (Tom Hardy) threatens not only Gotham's peace, but its very existence. When the entire city is taken hostage by Bane's men and the police are locked up, Batman must return, and fight an impossible resistance with a handful others.
The least one expects from a very popular, self-professed end of a series film is a grand scale. Most commercial cinema merely increases the effects and physical action. While Nolan indeed delivers on these, he goes beyond.
A bank or even a building being held hostage is well-known in cinema. Did you ever imagine an entire city held hostage for months? Like in the second part of the series, Nolan then asks the question: Would normal citizens rise up to become heroes?
Yet, morally and metaphorically, 'The Dark Knight' was stronger. There he asked the same question, but to individual citizens and in the climax on the two boats, to an opposite group of people. There, Batman wins because people in the two boats beat their instinct for self survival by refusing to kill the others for their own sake. In that scene, everyone becomes a superhero. Everyone becomes Batman.
That edginess of script, that triumph of true courage, is missing in this part. It compensates by rising on other counts.
The Nolan brothers (Christopher and Jonathan) know how to intermix a grim story of power, corruption, control and heroism with a spectacular razzle-dazzle. In a very powerful screenplay, the brothers bring attention to the corruption, the power structures and the chaos of the affluent class.
And the brothers, in creating villains that are alter-egos of Batman, and in often giving them ideals as high as him but in the end showing these anarchist villains failing, perhaps makes the greatest joke, the greatest metaphor on the state of the world today.
Perhaps the hidden, dark message is that no matter how much one resists - be it Batman or his villains - a corrupt power structure and affluence will survive. The brothers perhaps want to say that resistance, eventually, proves futile. Perhaps they want to say the opposite, that good and bad, light and darkness and falling and rising take turns and that no matter what, one has to resist.
Nolan is a man in absolute control of his craft. You'll be hard pressed to find a man with such ability to interplay sound and visuals to create a three-dimensional vision in your head.
Hans Zimmer assists him with superlative yet gentle and sombre background score, while as expected, the special effects division delivers the wares without going overboard.
Nolan carries forward the themes from the previous two films - fear, death, anger, corruption, heroism and chaos, and rounds them up into a perfect whole.
In the end though, the true hero that rises from this series is Christopher Nolan. In the wasteland of commercial Hollywood cinema, he is the best thing that has happened in a long time. May his clan increase everywhere.
Review by Satyen K. Bordoloi via IANS
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