Gotham’s Reckoning: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

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The Dark Knight Rises (1)

“The Dark Knight Rises” Review

Cast

Christian Bale……………Bruce Wayne/Batman
Tom Hardy……………..…Bane
Gary Oldman……………..Commissioner Jim Gordon

Credits

Director…………………….Christopher Nolan
Producers………………….Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan
Writer……………………….Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer

You might be wondering, “How did one of ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy films make it on to this page?” And yet, here I sit, writing about ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ for the fantastic movie that it is and the fact that it does make you think.

The truth is, I’ve always wanted to write about one of the new Batman films, but I think neither ‘Batman Begins’ nor ‘The Dark Knight’ had as much thought-provoking material as films like ‘Warrior’, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and the other films on this blog. But along with the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s critically-acclaimed trilogy comes the most thought-provoking and introspective of the three.

*BEWARE, this is movie is the third film in the trilogy, so – while this review will not contain spoilers for this movie – it may contain SPOILERS to the story and endings of the previous two movies, so if you haven’t watched the previous two films, stop reading. But seriously, who hasn’t seen the previous two?

Now, with that said and done, let’s get to the real business. The film. And boy, what a film. The hype surrounding this film was immense and expectations were sky-high (after all, ‘The Dark Knight’ was definitely one of the best films of the last decade), and Nolan delivered. And that can be seen right from the stellar first scene, where we meet the superhuman Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Bane – as he nonchalantly hijacks a plane and kills without hesitation – is pure evil, ferocious, and downright scary.

The main story of TDKR picks up 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent/Two-Face at the end of TDK where Batman takes the fall for the cops that Two-Face killed, and for the murder of Two-Face himself. Now, the Dent Act (based on a lie) has managed to lock up over a thousand of Gotham City’s largest pawns in the organized crime game, and the city is a far cleaner and safer place than it was 8 years ago. Like one character mentions, “It is peace time.”

For the last 8 years, Bruce Wayne has been a shadow of his former self, never leaving the rebuilt Wayne Manor. He has retired from being Batman, and is now so riddled with scars, broken bones and damaged cartilage that he can hardly even walk anymore. But one night, when he finds one Anne Hathaway breaking into his house, he begins to uncover a conspiracy involving his own company and he must take action.

Meanwhile, Bane begins to terrorize Gotham City, so much so that Bruce is forced put his cape and cowl back on, despite knowing that every cop in the city is going to go after him for killing Dent. So much for “peace time.” And this is where the films really picks up, becoming an all-out war between the Gotham City and Bane’s army.

The acting in this film is truly astounding. Every single member of the cast plays their role to perfection. Christian Bale is even better than in the previous two films, showing ferocity and fearlessness as Batman and emotional vulnerability and frailty as Bruce – something not many would have expected. Alfred assumes a larger role in this film as Bruce’s counsel and Michael Caine is really excellent in this role. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is also excellent as John Blake, a city cop bent on restoring order to Gotham. Even Anne Hathaway, who plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman, is fantastic. I was very apprehensive about Catwoman in this film (in fact, the word ‘Catwoman’ is never even said in the movie) and how she’d be played and what part she’d play in the story, but my worries were ill-placed as Hathaway was sophisticated, strong and sexy, all at the same time.

And then there was Bane. My god. Tom Hardy was nothing short of extraordinary. The physical presence Bane carries in the film is tremendous and he exudes pure strength. Hardy gets Bane’s voice spot-on too. His up-and-down intonation shows flamboyance and flair, but also doesn’t fail to be absolutely terrifying; he had me trying to mimic the voice for days! We all remember Heath Ledger as the Joker, and how good he was. And I’d have to say Hardy comes extremely close to matching that performance, which gives you an idea of just how good he was. It’s unfortunate that Hardy never takes off the mask (which, in case you’re wondering, helps fight the pain of past injuries and gives him added strength) because if he did, and we were able to see his facial expressions and emotions, he might well have had a shot at an Oscar nomination (who knows, maybe he still will, but I have my doubts). Regardless, Bane – in my opinion – is probably the standout feature of this third film.

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The always-excellent Hans Zimmer puts out another excellent soundtrack, with some of the old scores making a return, but with also some new ones which really help in communicating the dread and despair of Gotham’s citizens; the music does a really great job of conveying the necessary emotions. Even the occasional lack of music adds to the film – most notably in one fight between Bane and Batman.

The one thing that struck me about TDKR is that the film is much more about Bane and Bruce Wayne than it is about Batman. While the previous two films revolved primarily around Batman (especially ‘The Dark Knight’), this film gives a lot of the limelight to the man inside the suit and the man he must defeat. And it works. As I said earlier, this is probably the most introspective and thought-provoking film of the trilogy, and asks many questions of Bruce’s character. He is tested almost beyond his breaking point, which forces him to really dig deep and get the best out of himself. Before he can succeed, he must learn the truth about despair, hope, fear and strength, and this is in turn makes the audience really think about their own character and the lengths they would go to protect those they love.

True, this movie can be nitpicked to death, and there are certain plot holes which are left – surprisingly – open which can really only be closed by saying “It’s Batman”. But I am willing to suspend my belief – to some extent – for the 2 hour and 45 minutes that this film runs for. And with that, I can confidently say that this is a truly fantastic end to the trilogy. While it may not be as good as ‘The Dark Knight’ (I’m still debating that in my mind!), it certainly is the most emotional and thought-provoking of the three. Nolan must really be commended for making this trilogy which has redefined what comic-book movies should be like. TDKR has left me eagerly awaiting ‘The Man of Steel’, which Nolan is producing and co-writing. A brilliant end to a brilliant series.

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Two Brothers: ‘Warrior’

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Warrior

“Warrior” Review

Cast

Tom Hardy…………………..Tommy Conlon
Joel Edgerton.………………Brendan Conlon
Nick Nolte……………………Paddy Conlon

Credits

Director………………………Gavin O’Connor
Producers……………………Greg O’Connor, Lisa Ellzey
Writer…………………………Anthony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman

You might be thinking “What? How exactly does a film about a bunch of guys fighting really make the audience think?” And to that, I would say, “Well, this film is about a lot more than just a ‘bunch of guys fighting.’ ” And when I say that “Warrior” was one of the best – if not the best – films of 2011, I absolutely mean it.

Honestly, I went into the film for the sole reason that Tom Hardy was in it. Since Hardy is going to be turning out as Bane in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” I wanted to get a lay of the land in terms of his acting, especially since one would think that Bane is similar to Mixed Martial Artists in more ways than one. 140 minutes later, I came out feeling absolutely emotionally drained, but in a good way; a very good way.

The film follows two brothers, Tommy (Tom Hardy) and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) Conlon. Tommy returns to his hometown to enlist in a Mixed Martial Arts tournament with one of the biggest purses in history, and he joins up with his father (Nick Nolte) – a former alcoholic and Tommy’s former fighting coach – in order to get his help to train for the tournament. Paralleling Tommy’s story is Brendan’s, who is an ex-MMA fighter who can now barely support his wife and children with his job as a high school science teacher; Brendan sees this tournament at a chance for redemption and a means to provide for his family.

Past betrayals and recriminations keep the brothers estranged from each other and their father, with Tommy only using his father – Paddy Conlon – for training, and nothing more. One of the main reasons for this separation was the fact that Brendan – after having fallen in love – didn’t enlist in the army with Tommy. Matters were further complicated when Tommy left with his mother when the parents split; he watched her pass away in California to an illness that Brendan was never even told about, who had decided to stay with his father.

Once the tournament begins, we see the styles of Tommy and Brendan, with the former taking out each opponent with fast ferocious blows which result in a KOs, usually in the first round. Brendan, however, prefers to wear down his opponents until he seizes the opportune moment to get his opponent into an unbreakable lock, forcing the opponent to tap out. Already, the scene had been set for a fantastic final battle between the two brothers, between two completely different fighting styles. But when this final battle is reached, it is so much more than just an MMA fight.

One of the things that make the movie all that it is is its cast. Joel Edgerton is fantastic as the charming but oftentimes hapless high school teacher, who needs his one chance at redemption. The ever-amazing Nick Nolte was stunning as the brothers’ father, who was trying his utmost to redeem himself and get the family back together; he –along with Ton Hardy – participated in one of the most gut-wrenching scene of the film. Nevertheless, I think the standout performer was Tom Hardy, who played a role that was, though unemotional, strangely moving at the same time. He was mesmerizing as Tommy Conlon, and in my opinion, is probably the best role of his career so far.

The score was an additional factor that made this movie so brilliant. The National came up trumps with a subtle yet moving soundtrack that fit in very well with the film. The film’s best musical moment, however, was reached at the very end of the film, with The National’s ‘About Today’ playing during the dying of moments of the final clash, which resulted in one of the best finales I’ve seen this year.

The movie is set up in such a way that neither brother is supported, and the director – Gavin O-Connor – did this on purpose as to let the audience have its own interpretation, and derive its own meaning. Throughout the film, I never really knew who to support, and all of this culminated to a moment, right at the very end, where I just sat, shell-shocked. Though a winner had been found, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad, and yet I still felt a massive overflow of emotion that brought me to the brink of tears.

Maybe it is because I have a brother who I am very close to, I am partial to films about brothers, like “The Fighter,” and “Brothers.” But the fact remains that this movie is a lot deeper than just MMA fights, and can teach each and every one of us something different. Though it isn’t a tear-jerker as such, this film will nevertheless take you on an emotional rollercoaster, which ends with an absolutely amazing climax. So seriously, go watch ‘Warrior. ’

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