Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

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Eight years after the events leading to Harvey Dent’s death, Gotham has enjoyed peace even without the existence of the caped crusader, thanks to a strong legislation founded on Dent’s perceived heroism. The arrival of Bane, a masked vigilante ex-communicated from the League of Shadows, shakes things up as he gains control of the entire city backed up by the threat of a nuclear device he and his henchmen seizes control of from Wayne Corporation. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced out of retirement and returns as the Batman, but with all his wealth and armory gone, has he enough power to defend his city? He gains an unlikely alliance from cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) who holds more tricks up her leather suit than she would like to reveal. Could the bat trust the cat and save Gotham once again or do they all end up in ashes this time?

This is perhaps the best way to end the trilogy but in comparison with the previous two, it is more likely for people to judge the second one as the best, not just because of Heath Ledger’s excellent turn as the Joker but also because of the strength of that movie’s plot and darker theme. The Dark Knight introduced a new genre of superhero movies in which there really is no superhero, but rather a flawed protagonist who shares the burden of providing conflict along with the antagonist. Instead of the glitzy costumes, we get a sentiment that is overwhelmingly anti-hero. The Dark Knight Rises provides the same dark tone but serves more as the conclusion to the trilogy, which is perhaps why some of the subplots seem a bit contrived, but highly enjoyable to watch nonetheless.

Bane as the villain does not leave that strong an impression that the Joker did in the previous movie. This is perhaps owed to the fact that the Joker is the more popular of the two and as already mentioned, Heath Ledger was superb. Tom Hardy is not bad at all, and as a villain he gives you the impression that he could crack your spine with a snap of a finger. Maybe this is his advantage over the Joker. The Joker will scare you because of his psycopathic tendencies but Bane will not only terrorize your mind, he could also leave you paralyzed if he wants to. His built is menacing enough to begin with and this translates well onscreen because the game is no longer just that of outwitting one another. Now, brute strength is emphasized more than ever, and it is obvious that the bat pales in comparison to his nemesis this time.

Michelle Pfeiffer will always be THE Catwoman and Anne Hathaway’s portrayal here does not change that, but we must give credit where it is due. Hathaway is just the purr-fect combination of sexy and kick-ass that she just gives you a good show every time she appears onscreen. Her costume is not as sensual as that of Pfeiffer but its modern feel and the subtle allusion to a cat’s ears do the trick, along with Hathaway's hourglass figure. She would probably not get an Oscar nod for this like Ledger did, but she gives the role justice. Let us leave it to Les Mis to do her all the favors come Oscar time. Another good thing to note is how her character does not draw too much attention to herself, storywise. She is not tossed in there for the sole purpose of being a femme fatale diversion. She is there because she has a purpose, which she gets to fulfill without hogging the spotlight from the bat himself.

The ending is somehow convenient but perfectly understandable because this is the conclusion anyway. Or is it? The ending seems to hint on a new beginning through the introduction of another popular character from the Batman universe donning the cape that the bat has eventually decided to hang. A spin-off, perhaps? If Nolan would be the creative force behind it, then why not.


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