Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

July 20, 2012

Photo finish

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:34 pm

July 20, 2012

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

Director: Christopher Nolan

In order to fully appreciate The Dark Knight Rises, it might be a good idea to refresh your memory of Batman Begins, given that key plot points and characters from the 2005 film are referenced in Christopher Nolan’s final chapter in the Batman trilogy. Oh, and one more thing – it would also help if you had no memory of The Dark Knight, Nolan’s 2008 sequel.

Why, you ask? Well, I’m just going to say it – because while The Dark Knight Rises is a perfectly good film, it’s not The Dark Knight, which remains the best superhero film made yet.

Much of the reason why the new film feels underwhelming compared to the last one, involves new villain Bane (Tom Hardy), who is no match to The Dark Knight’s Joker, as played by Heath Ledger. An intimidating hulk of a man whose nose and mouth are covered by a mysterious Hannibal Lecter-like mask that makes his words mostly inaudible, Bane is a formidable physical presence, but an entirely different beast from the creepily menacing Joker.

Comparisons aside, The Dark Knight Rises is a solid hunk of storytelling, and a fitting end to a very ambitious series. The film opens eight years after The Dark Knight ends, with Batman having disappeared from the Gotham skyline after taking the rap for the murder of Harvey Dent and vanquishing the Joker (although no mention is made of the iconic bad guy in this movie, perhaps as a mark of respect to the late Ledger’s memory?), leaving his alter-ego Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living like a recluse in his sprawling family home. Sullen and unfriendly, and limping around with a stick, sporting months-old face-fuzz, Wayne moans to his trusted butler Alfred (Michael Caine) that the world doesn’t need Batman anymore.

No sooner than he utters those words, Gotham is plunged into anarchy by Bane and his army who stage a visceral attack on the Stock Exchange, and storm a prison releasing hundreds of criminals on the street. It’s a good thing Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) still has some of those trendy Batsuits around for our hero to slip into and take charge.

Unfolding leisurely over 2 hours and 44 minutes, The Dark Knight Rises flirts with some interesting ideas like Bane ‘liberating’ the prisoners so they can snatch wealth from the hands of the affluent, and his setting up of a people’s court to dispense instant punishment to the rich and the privileged. These themes of economic collapse and urban terrorism are thought-provoking and relevant, particularly in today’s times. But they’re never explored in much detail. In contrast, The Dark Knight superbly addressed the fine line between good and evil, and the difficult choices we must sometimes make.

The new film’s mostly somber tone leaves little room for humor, but what’s surprising is how deathly dull some portions are. It’s likely you’ll find your patience waning during the scenes in which an injured Bruce Wayne is imprisoned in an underground well-like holding where he has long, profound conversations with fellow inmates. Equally unconvincing is the romance that develops between Wayne and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a wealthy heiress who joins the Board of Wayne Enterprises, offering to rescue the company during a rough patch.

Considerably more engaging is Bruce Wayne’s interaction with slippery thief Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway), who he first encounters while she’s rummaging through his drawers. Selena, who is referred to as Catwoman in the comic books, is easily the most interesting character in The Dark Knight Rises, not least because Hathaway plays her as a snarky but alluring vixen with mysterious motives.

In Wayne’s corner, meanwhile, aside from old faithfuls Alfred, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), is young, up-and-coming police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who seems to understand early on what is at stake here.

Starting with a thrilling James Bond-ish set-piece in which a shackled Bane is rescued from an airplane by a team of mercenaries, Nolan delivers some jaw-dropping action sequences that literally blow your mind. These include Bane’s carefully planned destruction of a football field, and at least one stunning chase scene involving Bruce Wayne’s newest toy, an armored flying vehicle dubbed The Bat. The last half hour in particular is an extended crash-bang-boom sequence in which much of Gotham is blown to bits.

Although the film’s multiple storylines do get tangled up at times, and despite some messy plot holes, it’s unfair not to credit Nolan with once again giving us a blockbuster with smarts. The Dark Knight Rises is a satisfying, accomplished film packed with little twists and surprising cameos. It doesn’t deliver the emotional wallop of The Dark Knight (in spite of Hans Zimmer’s swelling, self-important score), but it’s a respectable finale to a much-loved trilogy.

I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a spectacle of high standards; just don’t set your expectations sky high, and you won’t be disappointed.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

68 Comments »

  1. How can you compare Joker n Bane ? Both figures are 2 diff. chracters. and TDK n TDKR are 2 diff. movie !!
    4 minumum is the score this movie deserve.
    A complete visual delight, great story and amazing execution thats what Nolan is all about n he deliverd this again !!

    Rajiv Sir , I want be surprised if you give EK Tha Tiger 4.5 stars just bcoz salman has given previous few movies as blockbuster !!

    Come on !! Rate this movie as this movie and not bcoz its a part of a big triology whos 2nd part was exceptionally good bcoz of one legendary actor. Coz if it would not had been Heath L. I dont think TDK would have been as good as it is !!

    Comment by Sid — July 25, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  2. why do people compare the dark knight and dark knight rises i think its ridiculous, u said on twitter bane is not joker
    how can he be joker were they both are different person. can u every think u r bill gates, not in dreams dude.
    i never liked ur reviews but this one movie was far more better than ur review. TDKR is an awsome movie, music,
    story,direction. and jst 3.5 stars dude go see a doctor not movies..

    Comment by balaji ghadge — July 26, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  3. 4.5/5 or 5/5 is justified for TDKR…not less than that in any ways

    Comment by Arun — July 26, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  4. I too am not fully satisfied with this review..as giving 3.5 to this movie is an absolute act of Under-Rating(no-offence)
    Of course..Joker’s legitimacy can never be questioned upon…but tom hardy is equally convincing as BANE..if you’ve read the Comics !!
    Nolan Has Always been completely fair with Batman…he doesn’t always fill in with all of the superhero stuffs and make it an out and out commercial superhero movie.. his movies have this kind of societal relevant topics which has been raised in all of the three movies….while it is true that ”The Dark Knight” does stand out to be an Epic, but it’s also true that ”THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” stands equally closer to it’s Predecessor
    It’s a 4.5/5 on my side…

    Comment by Souvik — July 26, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

  5. My review of ‘The Dark Knight RIses’

    http://karthikganesan.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/dark-knight-rises-yours-not-so-truly-christopher-nolan/

    Comment by Karthik Ganesan — July 27, 2012 @ 6:12 am

  6. My insight about the movie. http://honestmusings.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/insight-the-dark-knight-rises/

    Comment by Adnaan — July 28, 2012 @ 12:20 am

  7. i do agree that rajeev is too strict in his rating of TDKR & i hear every one say Bane is not as good as joker.. i agree joker as a character is extremely powerful & enduring in its appeal .. Cant remember any other character that portrayed evil with such flair & realness as the joker… credit goes to the director who essayed joker’s character & of course Heath Ledger who immortalized it. Now coming to Bane, it is inevitable that he gets compared to Joker but i give two thumbs up to bane.. bane was menacing & the mask & the muffled voice delivery gave him a distinct stand out feature.. as for the movie, i loved it,..! intricate screen play, great dialogues, awesomw background score & had enough emotional punch in its characters… 3 hrs of pure delight & 3.5 rajeev…?! pls be fair..!!

    Comment by natesh — July 28, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

  8. i give 3 stars to movie because in this part the movie length is bery big and after some time it bored you …

    Comment by Aman — July 30, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  9. Great film, wonderful story, amazing action sequences and fantastic ending to finish the Batman trilogy. Only downside Bale can’t touch the legendary performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker. Nice review Mr.Masand. Here is my review of The Dark Knight Rises -> http://sportguy31.blogspot.ca/2012/07/movie-review-dark-knight-rises.html

    Comment by Amin Ajani — August 1, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  10. My Review of TDKR http://cinemathatmatters.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/movie-review-the-dark-knight-rises-2/

    Comment by Saurabh Tiwari — August 1, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  11. Nice review, Rajeev. I am in complete agreement with your rating and your views. I too felt that while this was a decent watch, it would be foolish to compare it with its predecessor as that one was a classic. Again, its only natural to compare, which is why, a 3.5 rating would be apt, if the previous movie was a 4.5+ star movie.

    I love your passion towards cinema and I make it a point to read your reviews, every single week. You have no idea, how much of our money you have saved but exposing the rotten ones, in the utmost honest and candid manner. Keep up the good work, as this country needs honest-experts like you.

    Cheers!

    Comment by Dhiren Shah — August 10, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  12. Here is my review of The Dark Knight Rises -> http://aajani.blogspot.ca/2012/08/movie-review-dark-knight-rises.html

    Comment by Amin Ajani — August 14, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

  13. super flop movie 2.0 star.

    Comment by vivek — August 15, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  14. hey freind i like ur review esp about the hollywood section. i too fill that i will not touch the magic of the dark knight. but it wass none the less…ya someone will think that we should not compare the joker with bane…but the u shold know that joker told (taught ) us the difference between good and evil in extremes or difficulties of life……..howe peaple change when they don’t require the hero.or when they get in trouble…..don;’t hesitate to throw their hero…..(nature of himan being comes out when he gets in trouble…..)(hindi mein aukaat dikha dena………..)
    bane is just a physical presence rather a toy amazingly played by a girl villain……..who just want terror demolition
    no deep character as joker……….but definetly this one is far better then other movies and yes nolan has set his own standards……..so comparision b/w his own film to banti hai yaar………his films ofcourse r uncomparable………..to others……..i m satisfied by movie……….i m eager to see his next directed movie…….

    Comment by viresh — August 16, 2012 @ 10:01 am

  15. No movie critic can ever give a very high rating to a movie ( and never 5 ) because then that movie will be treated as a yardstick for other movie ratings that the critic will give in future

    I am not a critic just a member of the audience and this movie is definitely a 5 (as i saw it 5 times in hall ) 🙂 😀

    Comment by olly — August 31, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

  16. In Rajeev Masand , We Trust 🙂

    Comment by Pari — September 2, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  17. its totally 5/5. From very beggining it engages you till the end. Gives the most interesting character ever in the form of cat burgaler. Most physically strong villian in form of bane. Most grey character ever in form of talia al ghul. Most coolest flying machine in the form of the bat. The biggest terror ever as whole town is in danger. Most twists and turns which remind us of the prestige. Most amazing cinematography. Most mindblowing soundtrack. Batman fighting to save gothem as hard as he ever did. And last but not the least most talented storyteller of modern times CHRISTOPHER NOLAN.

    Comment by sudesh sharma — November 28, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

  18. The Dark Knight Rises is up there with the best movies of the year. It was my favorite movie last year. Hugely underrated just like Batman Begins. It has echoes of Heat and The Departed and just like “Drive” 2 years ago this one also get a snub at the Oscars. In the years to come I am sure TDKR will be remembered as a classic

    Comment by Sreejith — May 2, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

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