The Dark Knight Rises

Cast: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway; Music: Hans Zimmer; Direction: Christopher Nolan

It is always going to be difficult to match The Dark Knight. After single-handedly reviving the failing Batman franchise, and topping it up with a spectacular sequel, Christopher Nolan would have realised that there is no way he was going to beat the expectations. Do, all he needed to do was just relax and do what came to him naturally.

That’s exactly The Dark Knight Rises offers: Nolan in his natural elements. The conclusion to the trilogy contains intriguing moral dilemmas and muddled up character definitions that Nolan has become famous for, the very style that made Warner Brothers identify the real Batman: He is not your everyday superhero. He is not as exciting as Superman or as energetic as Spiderman. He is confused, brooding and fails more often than he succeeds in saving the world and his failures further mess up with his mind. Occasionally, the villains look like saviours because of society’s lack of clarity with their values. Batman’s butler frequently provides this much needed clarity although it’s difficult for our hero to accept the reality. Giving up is too easy; getting up and putting on the cape and cowl is an ordeal. And Alfred isn’t helping much this time.

The films before Nolan were completely devoid of this darkness and brooding moral dilemma represented by Batman stories. Barring Tim Burton’s honourable attempt, ably supported by Jack Nicholson, others were mere imitation of superhero scripts. Nolan came and changed the game.

Looked at it from this perspective, The Dark Knight Rises is a step ahead in the game. It is not an easy film. It is not your Avengers Assemble. If you were expecting Robert Downey Jr. to walk in and mouth those mischievous lines, stay away. In Batman, even a joker could be terrifying. Although the Cat Woman tries to bring in a comic relief, if you are in Nolan’s world, you don’t expect any relief. You are immersed in the moral games he plays; people who are clearly white are far and few. ‘You could keep the order in the city only with the help of a lie,’ Bane accuses Batman. True enough; the city could breathe easy only because a villain has been propped up as the hero, consequently sacrificing the hero. In this film, Bane, brings the truth to the people of Gotham, in his intention of ‘helping’ them. The fault-lines blur and become fuzzy in the overall scheme.  Is Cat Woman good, even when she changes her mind in the most appropriate moment? The viewers need heroes and villains and therefore they are supplied in the form of Commissioner and the ‘hot-headed’ detective, but this is the most psychologically twisted as for the character definitions can go in a summer blockbuster superhero film. A decade ago, we didn’t know such a thing was possible.

People still compare The Dark Knight. It is a bit unfair. I believe that the greatness of the sequel was unintended and I’m sure Nolan didn’t set out with the goal of ‘making the greatest superhero movie ever.’ Would Satyajit Ray have thought his Pather Panchali would go into the list of 100 great films? Is it his fault that the rest of his films didn’t make into the list? Or does it make his other films any lesser?

Having said that, The Dark Knight Rises is two shades greyer than its predecessor and a lot more complex plot-wise. What made the difference was, there was Joker there to take the great to greatest and Bane, despite the name, fails to even carry his own weight. Critics commented that his face-muzzle has robbed him off any personality, but I think that’s just one of the problems. The fact that even a weak villain couldn’t reduce the excitement is in itself a testimony to Nolan’s competence and the fact that the film starts leisurely in 20 mph and scuttle past at 300 mph towards the spectacular climax shows that he can even effectively mix enough fire-power to his pop psychology.

Don’t believe those who say The Dark Knight Rises isn’t up to scratch. They should have been in Superman comic movie and ended up at the wrong movie hall.