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A Glorious Requiem For The Dark Knight...
A Glorious Requiem For The Dark Knight….
I delayed seeing Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus, The Dark Night Rises movie, because of the tragedy in Colorado, but my wait and appetite were more than sated. It is true that during my review of Wheedon’s recent Avengers, I said it was the best movie I had seen in that genre, but I can say with joyous conviction that Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises has taken back the mantle… only because Nolan has done so three times… incorporating the previous two movies and tying it up in a neat rapturous bow.
There was a time when Comic Book movies were campy and never had the writing to match the acting talents of some of the stars who dared to venture in movies of that genre - here in The Dark knight Rises, there is top notch thespian pedigree and the script to match. I am deliberately going to give short shrift to the seasoned, brilliant actors like Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Christian Bale, and Gary Oldman because they all have had the respect of their peers and the attendant awards to match; instead, I am going to be long-winded, and deservedly so, on the work done by the younger artists in The Dark Knight Rises like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway.
Anne Hathaway has done good work before, but the truth is that her personal life has had more attention than her acting roles - no more. Hathaway, playing Cat Woman, is lethal and she has the walk/provocative saunter and attitude and acting skills to pull off the iconic feline character. There is a scene where Hathaway is watching Bane pulverize Batman and without saying a word… her facial expressions captures the gamut of emotions and If there is such a thing as ‘vulgar grace,’ it is watching Hathaway straddling and riding Batman’s motor circle and manning or should I say ‘womanning’ it and its guns and making mince meat of some of Bane’s bad guys. Yes, Hathaway repeats what is tantamount to the Wall Street’s ninety-nine per centers mantra, but she does Political Correctness so well… that one does not care. I wonder though about the Cat Woman’s back story that made her so cynical and lethal…. As for Joseph-Gordon-Levitt… who knew that the child star from Third-Rock-From-The-Sun would morph into a master young Thespian? I thought that Levitt career would have taken off like a rocket when I saw him in another masterpiece of Nolan, Inception, but apparently his fame is a slow burn to white hotness. Watch Levitt matching the seasoned actor Oldman's antics over a spirited debate on ethics and duty; watch Levitts again riding the wave of his emotions, while detailing the travails of being an orphan akin to Bruce Wayne’s life… minus being the heir to a fortune.
I would be remiss if I did not say something about the plot of the The Dark Knight Rises, which has Gotham facing unprecedented danger and said danger coming perilously close to its doom’s-day fruition. This time Gotham is in the cross-hairs of Bane and the Dark Knight cannot stop him. We know things were going to go bad for Batman, when, like the Burgess Meredith character in the Rocky movie... where he is warning Rocky that he should walk away and not fight the Mr. T’s character… the same similar dialogue is uttered from Michael Cain (Alfred) to Christian Bale (Batman) about taking on Bane. In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman is showing his age and is an emotionally broken man and when he goes up against Bane and receives a ferocious beat-down… I felt like that boy in the Caribbean witnessing Ali being beaten senseless by Larry Holmes. Not only is Batman literally beaten and broken… he is placed in a foreign medieval-like prison like the ones the CIA uses for Rendition -while imprisoned and broken, Bruce Wayne/Batman is then forced to watch the Chinese-Water-Torture and slow death of his beloved Gotham at the hands of Bane.
Speaking of Bane, played by Thomas Hardy, represents the bad guy every excellent movie must have and Bane more than fits the billing in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane is driven by love and ideology and he has the mental faculties and brute strength, akin to Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter coupled with Sampson’s brawn. Moreover, to look at Bane barking orders and regally engaging in bedlam is frightening and the mask which he sports only adds to the bone-chilling mystique. On the other side of the coin, the reason we love Batman is because underneath that costume is a man without any supernatural powers, yet kicking butt and drinking the nectar of vengeance - it is quite a scene to watch Bruce Wayne going through the most painful of rehab and making it out of an earthly Hell to get back to Gotham and if one had listened closely, one would have heard a little Shakespeare: Once more to the breach... Dark Knight….
There are mad surprises in The Dark Knight Rises and shockingly so that would rival or outdo anything you have seen in The Usual Suspects or The Crying Game… there is even a Judas like betrayal that hits you like Jack Frost, which then reconciled Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight franchise. It is a crying shame that Nolan probably will not be rewarded for his brilliant auteur opus when his movie is not only one of the best in its genre, but one of the best movies period! I venture to say Christopher Nolan is one the brilliant directors of our time or any epoch like Orson Wells or Woody Allen. Look at the scene where Nolan coaxed out of the great Michael Cain…when the latter is paternally trying to convince Bruce Wayne to give up the costume instead of facing the invincible Bane… look at the managed chaos in the many action scenes in The Dark Knight Rises that Nolan orchestrated that only could be articulated in the apt saying, ‘seeing is believing.’ We are even left with a mouth-watering mystery at the end of The Dark Knight Rises… wondering if Michael Cain in some European Cafe is engaged in wishful thinking….