Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises-The Kino Shout! Review

Title: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Verdict: 4/5

Great Films that are similar: Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight


So, here it is at last...

Four years of anticipation, Heath Ledger's great shadow, a tragic massacre, and a saga to finish- few movies could shoulder even one of these burdens, let alone all. Of course, in a Christopher Nolan film, courage is of the essence.

Indeed, the final outing for the Bale/Nolan caped crusader is as courageous as one would have anticipated. The opening image of cracking ice is poignant- a narrative this ambitious will always be skating on thin ice, narrowly avoiding failure in order to find success. Taking place eight years after the fan's beloved predecessor The Dark Knight (2008), the film presents a state of affairs so shocking that it's opening bears far greater resemblance to the saga's opener Batman Begins (2005).
The first thing to note is the air of deathly calm before the storm. There is a sense of silent doom that engulfs the film's opening gala scene:
  •  A divorced/virtually redundant Commissioner Gordon, 
  • Wayne Enterprises' financial trouble
  • The nihilistic, thieving anti-hero Selina Kyle
  • Alfred makes more sorry excuses and, not least...
  • A crippled, pathetic, helpless, depressed Bruce Wayne?!!
Yup, this is certainly a new direction.

"Nana-nana-nana-nana- Heartache!"
Now, I have no intention of getting into spoiler territory. Suffice to say, this is film of big ideas: can a hero have served his time? Is loss more galvanizing than privilege? Can you inspire good in others? But the biggest ideas surround the film's primary theme- suffering. There is a string of new characters for us to meet over the course of the first hour and each one carries suffering as a motivation- the working-class Selina Kyle stealing to survive, the spineless, ladder climbing Sgt. Foley (Modine), the honest-cop Blake (Gordon-Levitt) who is powerless without an honest system and the return of his boyhood hero. Throw in the fact that Commissioner Gordon is riddled with guilt about making a false idol and Alfred's dismay over the whole "Bane can break Batman in two" issue and this should be the most depressing power coup since the Gordon Brown administration...

And so, we move on to the all new villain...
We all know the line

Indeed, with some unintentional donations from the Wayne foundation, Bane does seize Gotham and reduce it..well, not to ashes...more to Tim Burton-ish looking winter of discontent. Bane is, indeed, war incarnate. Whilst Heath Ledger's Joker was the face of a flamboyant nihilism, Bane's intents are bigger, more purposeful, and militant. Bane is more the face of Fascism- an idealist with a disgust for life. You may hate Tom Hardy's wry, Brit accent at first but, be assured, by the end of the film I cursed myself for ever doubting the portrayal. An opening action prologue within a plane provides an inspired introduction to Bane. There is nothing more terrifying than intelligent madness, and the notion that this guy could destroy Batman leads to the most epic of conclusion's for Gotham's fate.

And, whoop Batman's ass he does. But, then, this leads us to what are (in my humble opinion) the film's greatest scenes. Following an unsuccessful physical encounter with Bane, Bruce Wayne (unmasked) finds himself confined in the prison of Bane's youth. This is where the film's true themes manifest before our eyes.

To illustrate my point, check this out

This is the musical motif that persists through virtually every scene of The Dark Knight Rises. It is a chant meaning "rise", and it is found not only in the percussion of Hans Zimmer's score but also echoed in places diverse as Bruce Wayne's howls of pain and the rhythm of tools during a construction scene. So, why the importance of "rise?"


It comes from the pit. You see, in the prison of Bane's youth there is a vertical tunnel, gaping upwards towards the light, leading to freedom. Many men, aided with a harness, have attempted to climb to freedom and failed. They say that only a child has ever climbed to freedom. The catch? He did it without the rope. So, for Bruce to escape he must untie the rope; and use his of fear death to make the leap.

This, for me, is the true meaning of The Dark Knight Rises: That pain and strife exorcise all weakness, and make you whole. Bruce Wayne is told in the prison that he is a man of privilege, whilst Bane is a man born of suffering. Batman initially  cannot defeat Bane. In order to do so, he must face the tragedy within him-even if that means learning the truth about Rachel Dawes wanting to marry Harvey Dent instead of him.

In short, this is the story of the redemption of Bruce Wayne. Bruce must regain his will to live, even without Rachel by his side. You may have problems with the ending: a telegraphed twist, forced romance, broken promises regarding certain characters, a few unnecessary cameos, and silly death scenes from certain French actresses. The conclusion for the principle characters, I would suggest, satisfies entirely. You may be a tad melancholy at some of the more morose details, but we all knew it had to end this way. With Batman, we have always invested in the myth. Thankfully, The Dark Knight Rises ensures that, now, we have also invested in the man.

And so, it ends. It was good, it was bold, it was dignified; Batman bows out with honor, and now Nolan can move on to Memento 2: Memory Cops* in peace.

* not actually happening.

or Alfred: The Naughty Chap Rises

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