As one of the millions of audience all over the world awaiting the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I decided to take a trip down the memory lane ...
Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is bound to go down in Hollywood as the definitive depiction of Bruce Wayne’s story and possibly the finest movie trilogy ever. The cinematic journey of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) begins with Bruce imprisoned in an Asian prison. After witnessing his parents getting murdered by a stranger, Bruce is consumed with vengeance towards the man responsible. Due to unforeseen turn of events, Bruce is disillusioned with the legal system and leaves Gotham quietly to begin his study of the criminal classes.
|Bruce after witnessing his parents' death|
Bruce is contacted by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) who offers to train him. Ducard works for The League of Shadows, a shadowy organization based in the Tibetan mountains. Ra’s Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) is the mastermind behind this organization. Ducard teaches Bruce not only the necessary martial arts, but also the need for theatricality and deception. As the final test, Bruce needs to decapitate a petty criminal. Being a man of strong morals, Bruce objects and is forced to fight his way out. The League of Shadows’ headquarters is destroyed. Ra’s Al Ghul and his followers are presumed dead, though Bruce does save Ducard’s life.
Bruce returns to Gotham and becomes the masked vigilante known as ‘Batman’. He is helped in his mission by Alfred Pennyworth (Sir Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).
|Batman makes his first appearance in Gotham|
With the reluctant assistance of Sergeant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), Batman successfully apprehends the local mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson) and Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) who are working together to poison the water supply system in Gotham. However, more powerful forces are at play and Bruce has to face them as the movie reaches an action-packed climax.
Prior to this movie, Christian Bale was famous for his work in ‘American Psycho’. No doubt, his work in that movie helped him in getting the much coveted role of Bruce Wayne. Bale captures the pain and the anger that are the defining characteristics of Bruce Wayne. Bale essentially plays 3 characters – Batman, the public image of Bruce Wayne as a drunken millionaire playboy and the real Bruce Wayne. The casting of Bale as Wayne is to me, as superb a choice as that of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Christopher Reeve as Superman/Tobey Maguire as Spiderman.
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Sir Michael Caine is a veteran in the industry and brings a lot of wisdom and warmth to the role of Alfred Pennyworth, the man who has been with the Wayne family for a long time. He is the closest thing to a family Bruce has and provides the much needed moral support.
|Alfred and Lucius, the closest allies of Bruce Wayne|
Morgan Freeman plays Lucius Fox, the equivalent of James Bond’s Q. Morgan Freeman‘s voice and authoritative deportment have remained the hallmarks of his career. That Freeman’s performance as the cool and classy Lucius Fox is a standout in a movie that boasts of other powerhouse actors like Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson and Caine, speaks volumes of his acting talent. Christopher Nolan is a fan of the James Bond series and quite possibly, he based Freeman’s performance on Desmond Llewelyn’s venerable portrayal.
Gary Oldman has been cast against type as Sergeant James Gordon, one of the few honest cops left in Gotham. Oldman brings out well the world weariness we expect from Gordon’s character. Gordon is the official counterpart of Batman and both these men work together to rid Gotham of the corruption that has reduced it to a shadow of its original greatness.
Cillian Murphy plays Dr Jonathan Crane better known as Scarecrow, the villain who uses fear-inducing gas on his unsuspecting victims. Murphy is suitably chilling in the role. Trivia: he originally auditioned for the role of Bruce Wayne.
Liam Neeson has had a lot of success playing the role of a mentor in his recent movies and this is no exception. His towering height and rich voice help us in accepting him in these roles. To the best of my knowledge, no other actor has the distinction of training not only Batman but also Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars) and the much lesser known Balian de Ibelin (The Kingdom of Heaven).
Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer and Linus Roache are competent even when they make very brief appearances.
If there was one bad casting decision made in this movie (as well as in the trilogy), that would be the choice of Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. I at least never bought her as the Assistant District Attorney that Rachel Dawes is supposed to be. I only saw an untalented but well-connected actress bringing down the quality of the movie whenever she was on-screen. I wonder what factor(s) forced Nolan to cast her. Of course to Nolan’s credit, he recast the character in the sequel.
There are some fine dialogues in the movie. I present here my favorite one:
“Why do we fall, Bruce – So we can learn to pick ourselves up”
This is a gem of a movie and a must watch for fans of the caped crusader.
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Image Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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