This post is the unedited copy of the review published in our film review column Animadversion (Images on Sunday, Dawn Newspaper) on 5th August 2012. The published version is linked at the end of the post.
Darkness Rises. A Knight Falls.
By Farheen Jawaid
The latest in the screen-adaptations of Bob Kane’s Batman comes to an end with The Dark Knight Rises – and what a finale it is! A well drawn-out ride that grabs attention, fascinates the senses and presses out ‘almost’ all the creases by the end credits. It’s a colossal end to a franchise that brought brains with significance to what was otherwise a not so serious genre.
Rises makes one look back at Batman’s movie history: the first one, and still the most iconic, was the visually gothic and whimsical version by Tim Burton simply named Batman, followed by its extravagant sequel Batman Returns – both of which played a major role in darkening Batman’s comic book world; Next came two by Joel Schumacher, and which (especially the latter) were intent on emptying the pun-buckets on audience’s head. Their intentions were more commercial, and old-school, as Batman Forever and Batman and Robin chose to stay close to the 60’s parodist television series than the then-happening DC comics or the reboots by Frank Miller.
Flashforward to 2005 and Christopher Nolan, who introduced his take by drafting out a sensationless, character driven version that even the recently rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man can’t hold a candle to. Nolan’s resume – at that time limited to Memento and Insomnia – was a testament of his talents for telling complex, layered, character driven stories. With his new Batman franchise Nolan relied on the already available (and continuously growing) reserve of story-arcs from the comics for inspiration on which he kept tight reins during the adaptation (a hefty chunk of credit, automatically goes to Miller’s award-sweeping re-introduction/reboot called Year One, which expertly entwines humanly flawed characters in the mix).
Batman Begins started on a high note and still felt incomplete (and a tad derivative). With 2008’s The Dark Knight Nolan showed his true direction prowess by showcasing his diversity to execute complex story-angles with finesse. And again in Rises multiple-threads are laid out and gathered to a dramatic ending which fells just right for Nolan’s Batman legacy.
Rises start eight years after Dark Knight. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is still honored as a “white knight” after his death. His crime protective act – called the Dent Act – is now in action as Batman and, then Lieutenant now Commissioner, Gordon (Gary Oldman) wanted. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) lives a hermit’s life in his mansion. His cowl is hanged as he grieves for his lost love Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Alfred (Michael Caine), his trusty butler looks in disdain and keeps coaxing Bruce for a better life.
However, a new villain, Bane (Tom Hardy), who half covers his face in a jaw-like mask and speaks in a bass-like voice (that is also quite indecipherable), makes an entry into Gotham. Bane has complete believe in his ideology and his past is shrouded in mystery. On another end, two new ladies enter Bruce’s life. One is Salina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who hikes up his interest in some good old-fashion defectiveness (she dresses in leather like Julie Newmar, the Catwoman from the TV series). The other is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) a business woman who is ready to console his love life. Besides them there’s another new face in Gotham. A new police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an able replacement to Dick Grayson, who believes in Batman, despite the dark knight’s current bad rep; and he also sees a kindred spirit in Bruce.
Written by brothers Jonathan and Christopher Nolan with story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, The Dark Knight Rises is inspired from Batman’s much applauded story-arcs called Knight Fall and No Man’s Land – both of which deals with the Bane’s attack on Batman and Gotham isolation from the rest of the world. Talking about anything more demands a Spoiler Alert!
Released by Mandviwalla Entertainment and Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Rises is rated PG-13. It completes a full circle and as an individual film, entertains as well as demands your attention midst all the mayhem and rewards with an exhilarating end.
The published copy is at: http://dawn.com/2012/08/05/animadversion-batman-rise-and-fall/
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