The Dark Knight Rises — A Fan’s Review

I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan. Prestige still remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and The Dark Knight is the only movie which I have watched on back to back days in a cinema hall. Its ending is such that even today it makes my eyes moist. The genius director in Nolan is justiably complimented by the genius of Hans Zimmer.

There was a justifiable hype about The Dark Knight Rises. After the earlier epic, the wait was just way too long for this movie, even though everybody was realistic in assuming that it was almost impossible to match The Dark Knight, and Bane could never come close to The Joker. Yet, this is Christopher Nolan that we are talking about. An average director could not even dream about making a sequel to The Dark Knight leave alone making a very good — if not a great — film.

I watched the movie on Friday, and while I liked the movie, I left the hall unsatisfied. I thought I was satisfied, I wanted to believe that I was, but I knew I was not. Partly, it was about my high expectations. I knew I should have not compared this movie to the earlier one, and I knew I would not enjoy it if I started comparing, but that comparison was present in the subconscious.

I liked the movie a lot, and would still give it a much higher rating than many other superhero movies (Avengers). The next part of this post is not a carefully written movie review where professionals watch a movie with the sole purpose of ripping it apart in the review, but rather the casual observings of a Nolan (and Batman) fan.

The Good:

– Hans Zimmer: If there is something which was better in this movie than the past, it was Zimmer’s soundtrack. Zimmer did the impossible — by creating an even more riveting soundtrack than what he did in TDK. The chant, “Deshi Deshi Basara Basara” still rings in my ears time and again. Listen to “Imagine the fire” and I’m sure you’ll get goosebumps.

– The story and the twists: I was surprised by the plot twists, where an obvious villain turned out to be a subordinate to a hidden and a harmless character. In an era where we are used to having numerous plots and twists in movies and are always looking for hidden plots, Nolan did a great job of hiding the obvious.

– The connection to Batman Begins: I am fond of this movie. And so it was to my utmost pleasure that there were so many connections to the movie. It gave this movie a great, presentable ending.

– Batman’s struggle to climb up the deep prison. The way the child did it. Without the rope.

– Catwoman’s maneuvering skills with the Bat Pod. Thoroughly entertaining.

– Bale’s performance: One of his best performance to date. From the crippling billionaire to his resurrection as the feared Batman was amazing. But the best part was during the resurrection where he was living in denial — if Bane is the pupil of the very master whom I defeated twice, I can take him. Even though I have out of practice for eight years, and he is not. Even though I will not use guns and would never kill people and he is an animal. It was great direction, and great acting. Typical Nolan.

– “So this is how it feels like.” Batman’s reaction when Catwoman disappears in front of him.

The Bad:

– Nuclear bomb. City under threat. Last minute — second — escape. Cliches galore.

– “The Bat” was nowhere as cool as Bat mobile or Bat Pod. When Bat Mobile first appeared racing away between traffic, or when it self destructed to become the extremely cool Bat Pod, it was jaw dropping. It made me WANT these devices. Or even that Lamborghini which Bale so heartlessly crashed to save an insignificant reporter. The Bat flying in between the city? Not so much.

– Miranda Tate. ‘Nuff said.

– Too many things going on. Character development of Bane, the role of Catwoman, conencting the pieces with Batman Begins, an insignificant romance in between, Blake …. there were so many subplots, that none was ably developed. It felt too hurried — even though the pace of the movie was slow. Compared to the simplicity of Batman Begins, or the fast paced, focused direction in The Dark Knight, I couldn’t connect myself emotionally to this film, the way I was able to do in the first two movies. And mind you, I saw the first movie after watching the epic second one, and still loved it!

– The first two movies had something special. Here, once Bane took control of the city, there were several Bat Mobiles roaming around the streets. Suddenly “The Bat” was fighting against an army and it felt like just another sci-fi movie. Was there a scene which made be stupified like the one where Joker burned a mountain of dollars? No. Was there a scene as moving as the one when Batman reveals his identity to Rachel while diving into a probable death? No. As I said before, I should not compare, but I cannot help it.

– Hans Zimmer. Because I feel the movie wouldn’t have felt 10 percent as good as it felt today if it were not for Zimmer’s soundtrack. In the Dark Knight, Zimmer’s brilliant soundtrack was a great compliment to the movie. In Rises, Zimmer’s soundtrack was the heart and soul of the film.

But most importantly what disappointed me was the ending. Recall the ending of The Dark Knight, where Batman becomes the villain for the greater good of the city despite being the hero. Here the Batman does something heroic — no doubt. But in the end, he becomes a martyr only for us to realize that he in fact faked his death and goes on to lead a normal life. It is totally fine to want to lead a normal life after what he had suffered. But by faking his own death while saving the city? From someone who did a heroic sacrifice years back? I would have preferred if he had saved the city, took the credit and faded away. But then it would not have been dramatic. Clearly Nolan had a challenge.

If Dark Knight was 9.5/10 for me, and Batman Begins was 9.0, this movie was only about 8.5. Only 8.5. Of course, you get what I mean here. It is Nolan we are talking about. Where 8.5 is just not good enough for his standards. Something similar to the feeling one gets when Sachin “only” scores a 90 in a match. Or when Roger Federer “only” reaches the final of a Grand Slam.


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