Monday, August 6, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

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


"The Legends Ends"


Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex


It was a stormy day but by hook or by crook, it was imperative I watch Bruce Wayne before he bids adieu to his fabled alter ego, Batman. Mostly because it had been running for 3 straight weeks and it felt like I was the only person left out on a grand secret that everyone was raving about. So we were only 7, myself included nicely nestled within that cold, dark cinema theater. In the same manner that Bane and his cohorts were wreaking havoc over Gotham City, torrential monsoon rains were battering Metro Manila with much fury.


I did my homework by reading articles on the previous film, The Dark Knight which was shown 4 years ago. This much hyped final film had so much going against it, for instance how could you surpass having the Joker (the late Heath Ledger) as its antagonist?


Answer: You don't. You simply dust the cobwebs off and move on full throttle to the next project with guns a blazing, no pun intended!


Gotham City is now enjoying a peaceful period where crime is almost non existent. Its main characters have either died, voluntarily gone into retirement, are now maintaining low profiles and/or turned into a recluse. In short, boring times have fallen upon Gotham City.


So the scriptwriters along with director Christopher Nolan at the helm decides to shake the audience out of his stupor by introducing us to a wide bunch of characters, some of whom we can't figure out just yet as the film unfolds whether they are good or bad. Anne Hathaway as the burglar Catwoman is without a doubt the most enigmatic presence in the movie. While the rookie cop turned detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is quietly interesting. Bane (Tom Hardy) with his distracting mask that caches both his physical as well as emotional pain was also mildly interesting as a villain. Then he is abruptly reduced to something so insignificant and small. The menacing villain was indeed a towering figure throughout the movie until he is exposed as merely a secondary pawn towards the end of the trilogy. Sad!


In putting up with the current times, Nolan presents us a society where the people take over the reigns of their battled city. With nearly the entire police force trapped in tunnels, ordinary citizens are encouraged to seize their freedom from law. Fed up with the powerful and wealthy, they invade their homes and toss them into the streets. Chaos rules as the people hold mock trials where they judge and sentence the wealthy to exile and death. They rule that every citizen must make a stand because every citizen matters. It openly mocks the idea of a people's revolution, portraying ordinary people as incapable of governing themselves.


The main theme of the film is 'fear'. Batman, aka Bruce Wayne, has lost his soul and his very reason for living. He took on the sins of Harvey Dent and has paid for it with his body and his very essence. Even Alfred (Michael Caine) his loyal butler is not above being involved in substituting truth for lies. Each of these character lives in fear of their lies and the consequences of them coming to light. Each one know that these lies have the power to destroy all that they have worked for. But as each lie is exposed, it only intensifies their drive to be reborn and rise above them.


In this context, I believe "The Dark Knight Rises" was able to redeem itself. It shows us the slow but steady climb out of the rubble by Batman even though he faces formidable obstacles in his path. This movie does everything it can to show that our faith can only be rewarded if it is in the right thing, if is is based on truth. Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.


Yes, there are some glaring loopholes with the plot, and the various murky side plots and the multiple characters may initially slow down viewers. However, as a superhero film, it confronts topics that are relevant. The "good vs. evil" scenario, the value of freedom, the class tension, the personal struggle and redemption of its main characters. Add all of this to the action, special effects, the soundtrack and the impressive cast and you get a fitting finale to send off the caped crusader into the sunset.


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