Friday, July 27, 2012

Film Review: Batman - The Dark Knight Rises

The third installment of Director Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman, The Dark Knight Rises continues the themes faced by police officer James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in the first two films. Is Gotham worth saving and is donning a mask the best way to do it? It reminded me a lot of James Bond.

Gotham’s trust in its justice system is failing and Batman must try to restore it. Bond is trying to do the same thing but he’s less co-operative and cares a bit less about people’s need to feel safe. Batman is sometimes villainous and when he realizes his similarities to The Joker, and that it’s mostly about his ego, he puts away his cape for 8 years.

In The Dark Knight Rises, he returns to fight the machinations of the villain Bane, while the lines between villain and hero are still blurred, Wayne depends more on Gordon than what he learned from The League of Shadows. From the latter, he’s forced to deal with his weaknesses but also faces another question: why confront your fears only to instill them in Gotham?

Bruce Wayne’s journey from being Batman for his own purposes rather than being a hero that protects people continues with a lighter tone and less violence than The Dark Knight. It makes perfect sense to do so, the third does not fail because of its lighter tone, it’s classic story telling similar to the Star Wars trilogy that the second act is where darkness reigns only for hope to be restored by act three. With incredibly smooth scene transitions, a great Batmobile chase, plus Cat Woman, it delivers on all counts as a summer blockbuster. 

The theme of sympathizing with thieves (they aren’t all lunatics) continues as Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar, shows Bruce Wayne the style of the game. Hathaway’s Cat Woman is always ahead of him and the repartee and sexual tension between them is enjoyable to watch. Hathaway also captures the demure, and mysterious qualities of the comic book character. She doesn’t try to copy anyone else’s performance so it stands on its own.  
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Cane as Alfred help add the humor and fun elements that made Batman Begins such a good start. Alfred represents us, the audience, and just like him we don’t wish Bruce Wayne to make protecting Gotham more about his need to be Batman and his personal issues, than about him still believing that some good can come from the grey. (Cops and Robbers cannot be easily divided into Good and Bad). Bruce Wayne realizes that Dent’s false heroism was based on his anger about the police systems failure to protect Rachel Dawes, and his temptation to adopt the attitudes of The League of Shadows is probably because his parents weren’t protected either.

Similar to Daniel Craig’s James Bond, he could be called a “maladjusted orphan”, but Bond doesn’t have Alfred and the rest of the team, Batman is warmer and less cynical while Bond is more of an anti-hero. Bruce Wayne is also more humble in that unlike Bond, who never listens to M (colder than Alfred), Wayne listens when Alfred says “I’m not afraid that you’ll fall, I’m afraid that you’ll want to fail”. They both have amazing gadgets but Batman is more likable, while he can’t always trust women, he’s less jaded and it’s easier to cheer him on.  Some of the plot was predictable, and it goes without saying that no villain can ever be as good as The Joker, but it’s a well-told story, it has substance, intrigue, and a great ending, I’d see it a second time- four out of five cups of java for me! 


--- Leticia Cambre, blogs at artsynews.posterous.com

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