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Monday, 30 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises : a brutally honest review

This post is what its title claims it to be. A precise, unbiased and a thoroughly honest review of what was clearly the most anticipated offering from Hollywood this year.

How am I so sure that this is? Mainly because of two reasons. One, I am definitely not a Batman fan-boy, so I did not ignore plot holes and fallacies which I clearly remember choosing to do while sitting through the last Harry Potter installment. Two, I had heard a lot of both, positive and negative reviews from a host of other people and I had them all playing in my mind during the 3 hours. I thus watched the movie from what was a rather mixed perspective - composed of skepticism and faith in equal measure, and this is the reason why I hope the review is honest and unbiased.

And oh, huge spoilers follow. So tread at your own risk

One, the story.

On an absolute scale, the story was good. Not just good, it was quite brilliant. It had all the required moments, evoked all the right feelings, had the right twists in the right places. It soared high above the average action thriller and had several entertaining sequences which were masterfully crafted. I quite liked it actually. But then, put the story in the context of the Batman trilogy, and all goodness seems to vanish just as quickly. Blame Nolan for the monumental standards he had set in the Dark Knight but simply put, this was the worst storyline in the entire series.

Plotholes were glaring, from the very beginning (how did the huge Boeing 747 loom up suddenly above the CIA aircraft - Without showing up on radar even?), to the Wall Street heist (why were the transactions not reversed after the emergency had passed? Where did the dirt bikes come from?) right up to Bruce Wayne's entire escape sequence from Ra's Ul Ghul's prison. And not to mention Blake knowing that Bruce Wayne was Batman. The movie would have been good despite the fallacies had it not been a Christopher Nolan offering. But given that it was, it was a big disappointment.

Two, editing.

This was an even bigger letdown. Look, I'm not saying the movie was bad. It was very good. But, as I keep reiterating, you just don't expect things like this from someone who has given us Memento, The Prestige and Inception.

The Dark Knight Rises, would have ideally gone on to be a four hour movie had Nolan kept the story natural. The time cap introduced by the nuclear bomb, not only made the plot contrived, it also made the 'race against time sequence' extremely cliched. I mean, duh. This is Nolan for Christ's sake. If you need a time bomb (and a very shoddy one at that) to wrap up the story quickly it is not a good sign!

Three, characterisation.

Forgive me if I sound too skeptical but there was not one memorable character in the entire movie. I won't say the same thing about the performance of the cast however, because it was honestly very good. Anne Hathaway sparkled, and Michael Caine was at his bloody best. And while it wasn't Christian Bale's best performance, he did manage to pull off proceedings quite well.

Despite the star studded cast, what the movie really lacked was character development. In the beginning when you think that Bane is the main villain - it actually makes you wonder whether this is the same franchise that has given us the Joker. Later, when the truth about Miranda Tate is revealed, the little that the character of Bane had developed in the past couple of hours gets instantly dashed to pieces. So now, we have a new criminal mastermind, which is a neat twist in the plot, but doesn't bode well for the overall cinematic experience at all. A diabolical villain with stunning character revelations, is a centerpiece of all such epic franchises (examples abound : Darth Vader, Sauron, Lord Voldemort, Davy Jones, the Joker) and this is one area where The Dark Knight Rises failed miserably. Also lousy was the death of both Miranda Tate, and Bane. How more disappointingly conventional can a car crash and a gunshot be, to get rid of the two chief villains in a story that needs to be phenomenal?

Four, the end.

The ending was a mixed fare, really. While I appreciated the nice twist in how Wayne had himself patched the auto-pilot issue on the flying contraption, that let him survive the nuclear blast, I couldn't really come to terms with Bruce Wayne enjoying a life of peace and romance after all the swashbuckling heroics. Also, was it just me or was the revelation of Blake's real name way too blatant for anyone's liking?


That's about it, really. Saying that I did not enjoy the movie would be a lie. I thoroughly loved it. However, it was still disappointing in the grander scheme of things, because of all the reasons mentioned above. The movie has already tasted its share of eye watering success at the box office, but if the hype surrounding it is anything close to what it really was, then this would probably have to be the greatest thing that has come out since talkies went mainstream.

And that, The Dark Knight Rises is very, very far from being.

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