The Staggering Epic Concludes with the Rise of the Dark Knight!

As the credits rolled past with the haunting “Batman” soundtrack developed by the inimitable genius, Hans Zimmer, playing in the backdrop – I couldn’t help feel sad. Sad that this colossal movie franchise has finally come to an end. And what a conclusion to one of my all time favorite movie trilogies! Everything that I looked for in a series conclusion.  Darker, more fantastic with the action amped up to beyond the “maximum” level, with a hero that your heart bleeds and cheers for. A massive, grim and brutal conclusion, but a satisfying one nevertheless.

What began with an eponymous low-key start in the “Batman Begins” took on spectacular mind-boggling proportions with the second installment, “the Dark Knight” that just blew the minds off people, taking the bar to an entirely new level. Nolan’s been known for his intelligent movies, movies that tickles your grey cells and of late, made on fantastic budget – huge beasts meant to boggle your minds and transport you with visions of catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions and final redemptions. He belongs to the rare few who have tackled the post-9/11 terrorist issues on such a grand scale while keeping in with the sensitivity and gone on to make box office blockbusters out of them. This movie keeps in with the tradition.
So an out-of-shape ( a physical invalid and a mental wreck) Bruce Wayne has taken retirement after his girlfriend, Rachel got killed eight years ago by the raving maniacal Joker and his alter ego, “Batman” has been cast as a criminal in his own hunting grounds, the murder of citizen’s hero “Harvey Dent” being thrust on him. And nothing can force this A-class mopper to come out of hiding.
Well almost nothing – Selina Kyle, a slinky super sexy cat burglar (played by the charming and talented Anne Hathaway, one of my favorite actresses) decides to hit the Wayne Manor for a seemingly small burglary and this sets off an interesting confrontation between her and Wayne. In spite of obvious differences between two, the attraction and sexual tension that crackles in the air is unmistakable and we get the feeling, this is going to carry on further.
But Selina has mixed up with the wrong side of the law and leads Wayne to the sinister and pure evil personified “Bane” – the antagonist of the movie, played by Tom Hardy – a slab of muscle with a wicked looking respiratory-mask that digitally alters his voice and helps him breath normally – who by the way, does get a brilliant opening scene – very similar to Dark knight for Joker – where the entire atmosphere is tense and broody – like the rainclouds gathered over a mourning  and his brutal brooding self is thrust onto the audience. 

Bane is holed up in the sewers of Gotham city with his terrorist brethren and planning on a “Revolution” – the scale of which has not been witnessed before. Indeed - by the end of the first forty-five minutes – when we see Gotham crumple into anarchy and terrorism, collapsing into rubble and dust – we realize we haven’t seen an annihilation of a city on this grand a scale. The football ground caving in with the explosions resounding while the lone player outruns his unlucky comrades sucked into the bowels of the earth – was one helluva scene. The mournful soulful anthem sung before the explosions creates the sense of looming disaster, a kind of fearful anticipation for the apocalyptic reckoning that Gotham is treated to. Fantastico! 

With his city going under the control of the total psychopath Bane – Batman has no other option but to swing back into action on his bat-Mobile – this time, he gets company in the form of earnest newbie cop, Blake (fresh faced Joseph Gordon Levitt – a terrific performance by this talent powerhouse!) and old friend, commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman reprising his role, almost ghost-walking through the movie as it’s the third time he is playing the same role with same expressions of self loathing, confusion and fear)A word for Gordon Levitt : Spell binding performance, as with the earlier movies, even this one is full of tortured souls and earnest cop Blake plays it to the core: an orphan who looks up to Batman and who understands the “anger” that seethes beneath the façade. Among a force of timorous cops, he stands out as the man who knows no fear (a pun on our leading hero J )
Only Marion Cotillard was the weak link in this shining armor: she definitely was not cut out for the role written for her which in itself was not truly convincing –She plays Miranda Tate, a board member on the Wayne Enterprise, and small time lover for rich boy Wayne.
As with Dark Knight, Nolan uses a similar ploy in this movie – where he plunges us and the heroes of Gotham city into the stygian depths of hellish hopelessness (here, pictured as a prison within the bowels of earth where Bane was brought up and where he escaped from – into which he puts a broken bodied Batman) and then in the final act, brings us back to the surface where hope and redemption shines through brilliantly. My only concern was that Bane, while bringing his own share of unadulterated evil and persona to the screen, definitely was not up to the bar set by Joker. While Joker’s vendetta against Batman was more of a cerebral nature and he enjoys the games against Batman, Bane vs. Batman was more of a slugfest – shuddering, bone-crunching and extremely physical. 

All said, this movie brings about an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the trilogy – a plausible movie glossed over with lot of breath-taking CGI effects, toys bigger than ever, villains meaner than ever and a hero that rises out of the gloomy smog of evil that encapsulates our favorite city Gotham. A smash hit for sure. Four and half stars out of five!


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