Just came back from watching TDKR. Without further ado, here are my thoughts.
Christopher Nolan has brought the story of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) full circle. This is first and foremost a Bruce Wayne movie. Christian Bale spends a majority of his screen time out of the Bat Suit. When we first met Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, he was a disillusioned young man, searching for inner peace and purpose in life. The death of his parents at the hands of a stranger had a profound effect on Bruce’s psyche from which he never recovered. The training he received from Ra’s Al Ghul and his subsequent donning of the costume did not per se help Bruce overcome his rage and sadness, but served as an outlet for them.
In The Dark Knight, Bruce is confident of giving up the cape and the cowl after seeing the way Gotham citizens responded to Harvey Dent’s crusade against organized mobs. The Joker (Heath Ledger) wreaked havoc on Bruce’s personal life by causing the death of Rachel Dawes, the one true love and symbol of hope for Bruce. At the end of the movie, Batman took the blame for Harvey’s death for the sake of Gotham city’s future.
As TDKR opens, we are introduced to Bane (Tom Hardy) as he orchestrates a mid-air hijacking of a nuclear scientist. The sequence was intended to showcase Bane’s determination and willpower to achieve his ends against all odds and costs.
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Back in Gotham, Bruce is a recluse in the reconstructed Wayne Manor. One of the Wayne Enterprise Board Members, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is trying to get Bruce’s attentions, but without much success. She has plans to use nuclear energy for the general good of the society and tries to get Bruce’s help. But Bruce is way too depressed to make any contact with the outside world.
One day, he runs into a robbery in motion by one of the housemaids who steals his mother’s pearls and his fingerprints. Intrigued by this unusual burglar, Bruce does some research and discovers the offender to be one Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). Fans of the Batman comics know Selina is the secret identity of Catwoman, femme fatale and burglar with a cat fetish. Selina is never referred to as Catwoman, though she spends considerable time in the costume.
|Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle|
But Selina’s antics are only part of a much bigger plan against Bruce and Gotham city. Bane is a brute with brains and he has meticulously planned the downfall of his enemies.
The other noticeable newcomer is beat cop Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who catches the attention of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman). Gordon is temporarily rendered out of action and he delegates the detective work to Blake.
Batman takes Selena’s help to stop Bane and this leads to disastrous results for the Dark Knight. To keep this review spoiler-free, I would recommend the readers to find out further details from the movie.
|The amazing Chris Nolan at work|
Chris Nolan has crafted a superb closer to his trilogy. Nolan’s decision to focus on the man inside the costume is testament to his sublime moviemaking skills and he deserves applause for this. Despite the legendary pop culture status of Batman, Nolan invested wisely in Bruce Wayne’s personal journey and this has resulted in the finest movie trilogy (in my opinion, of course). Bruce’s journey of self-discovery began in ‘Batman Begins’ and has reached its due course in TDKR. Rest assured, this movie will knock your socks off, if you followed Bruce’s story so far.
Wally Pfister and Hans Zimmer have always made major contributions to the success of the previous movies and their success continues with this one as well. Zimmer’s music especially is outstanding. His track “Mind If I cut in?” is used at crucial points in the movie.
|Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne|
On the acting front, the honors go to Bale, Hathaway and Levitt.
Bale does superlative work in this movie and brings Bruce Wayne to life like never before. His work is powerful and inspiring and is miles ahead of the other two movies. He is the definitive Bruce Wayne, just as the late Heath Ledger the definitive Joker.
|Anne Hathaway makes a great Selina Kyle|
Anne Hathaway does some fine work as the morally ambiguous Selina Kyle. Selina has some motives of her own and is willing to risk the safety of others. Selina’s character arc is nearly as good as that of Bruce and all credit goes to Hathaway for giving us a very alluring and nifty portrayal.
|Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake|
Levitt, on the other hand, has the relatively easier role of Blake, the cop with good morals and the drive to make an active change to Gotham. Levitt’s character has major presence in the movie and acquits himself very well.
Tom Hardy has bulked up for the role of Bane and thanks to Pfister’s camera work, looks much bigger than he actually is. Nolan has written the character of Bane as someone with total belief in his capabilities to achieve whatever he sets out to do. Unfortunately, Bane's face is covered with a mask and has to communicate only through his eyes. For all of Tom Hardy's considerable acting talents, Bane ends up as a generic tough guy and is intimidating only in his hand-to-hand confrontations with Batman.
|Bane and Bats go Mano-a-mano|
The recurring members of the cast have varying levels of success. Gary Oldman comes out the best in the bunch as the guilt-ridden cop. Gordon’s conscience weighs down heavily on him and his internal struggles have taken a toll on his life. His wife has left him, taking the kids with her. Oldman is amazing in the role.
Morgan Freeman does his usual standard work as Lucius Fox, Batman's go-to guy for gadgets and weapons. The Bruce-Fox chemistry is one of the strong points of these movies. This time around, Fox does not get to have much fun bantering with Bruce, except for a couple of exchanges. But Fox's gadgets are stars in their own right. The new aerial vehicle, 'The Bat' joins the Batpod and together they steal the show in the action scenes.
|Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth|
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth is highly concerned with the direction in which Bruce’s life is seemingly headed. Caine is good in the initial scenes, but soon becomes melodramatic. My sincere apologies to you Michael, I do wish you had toned down your work a little bit.
The movie runs for nearly 165 mins long and suffers from an excess of characters, extended action scenes that could have been cut out completely and some gaping plot holes. To keep this review spoiler-free, I will go into these details in a later post.
Right now, all you need to know is that this movie does full justice to Chris Nolan’s vision and should notch up Oscar nods. Highly recommended for Chris Bale's best performance yet as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
PS: My deepest sympathy goes out to the families and friends of the victims in the tragic shooting in Colorado.
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Image Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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