Friday, August 24, 2012

The Hope


                And so it came to an end. Nolan began his Batman trilogy in 2005 and we've waited seven years for the conclusion. The main question is, of course, does it deliver? And the answer is yes...and no. So let's explain that.

                After all the fuss "The Dark Knight" caused, Nolan knew he would have to come up with something even bigger for the third part, and that he did. As in the first two parts, in "The Dark Knight Rises" the future of Gotham is at stake, but this time the threat is even bigger and there's not a soul unaware of it. Ra's Al Ghul was a threat to the Narrows, The Joker to all of Gotham, but a new villain named Bane is a threat to all of the world. He imprisons Gotham with his army and puts a nuclear bomb into play with the world watching. That kind of terrorist element wasn't present till now. Maybe Nolan thought enough time has passed since 9/11 or maybe he just needed a bigger issue for the third part. Whatever the reason, one of the biggest issues in modern America became one of the movie's main themes. And it's interesting to note how it's not the only present American issue tackled in the movie. Bane's attack on the Gotham stock exchange and one of the employee's worried explanation how if the criminals succeed all people's savings won't be worth anything, clearly make reference to the recent Wall Street problems and the impact they had on American (and world) economy.

                But of course, those are not the only issues present in the movie. Like its predecessor, it continues questioning human nature and decisions. It shows there can be good even in a bad person (Bane's capability of love), but it also shows how good people are capable of doing bad things (Gordon's lies, some of the Catwoman's actions) either for their own sake or for the greater good (which is another interesting theme in itself). It also tries to tackle the idea of a society without regulations, where people can do as they please and chaos rules.

                The problem is all of those themes can be recognized in the movie, but they're not given enough thought and attention. The movie functions primarily as an action movie, and with all that action and a lot of stuff going on there's not enough space left for a serious representation of any of the mentioned issues. One issue, however, makes an exception. The issue of hope. It's also something talked about in the previous movies but here it's approached in different ways. On the one hand there is hope for salvation and a better life (both in common people and in Bruce Wayne), but on the other there is an idea of hope as an integral and crucial part of suffering which only makes it worse. There's also the fact that this is the last part of a trilogy so it must tie all loose ends and give a satisfactory conclusion. And in that it succeeds.

                Bruce Wayne started as a broken down human being and found his way of moving on by giving himself a greater purpose and transforming into a symbol. But once his purpose was done and there was no need for that symbol no more, he lost himself again. Which shows that in fact nothing changed. So he had to go through transformation as Batman to complete his transformation as a man and go on with his life. That's why we see a "dirtier" Batman, with less gadgets and tricks and more fist fighting. The transformation is also shown near the end of the movie, when Batman fights Bane in the middle of the massive fight between cops and mercenaries. It was said many times how anyone of the people could be Batman, but only now Batman became one of them. He's more human here than ever before, and he needed to be so he could kill Batman and carry on with his life as Bruce Wayne.

                But let's say a few words about the new characters as well. Bane, played very impressively by Tom Hardy, seems a little underdeveloped. As if his moves and decisions hadn't been given enough thought. And it all ends up being even more puzzling when we find out his true motivation. Miranda Tate, Bruce's new business partner, is potentially the most interesting character but unfortunately ends up being the most inconsistent and disappointing one. Blake, a young police officer, is another character going through important changes in the movie. Changes not so believably done, but nevertheless with a satisfying conclusion. That leaves us with Selina Kyle/Catwoman, another character in need of transformation (this time done well, if a little clichéd). She's played with fantastic seductiveness by Anne Hathaway, and makes a great partner for Batman. There's a certain chemistry between Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway which makes every scene with the two of them in it stand out. Especially the Batman-Catwoman ones.

                As it can be expected, the movie excels in all technical categories. Combine that with very good acting and probably the best Batman soundtrack to date and all you need to add to have an all-time classic on your hands are a great script and direction. Unfortunately, those are lacking. They're not that bad, but the script tries to do too much with too little and lacks focus in some places, and the same can be said about direction, with Nolan bent on over-explaining that which is already clear and under-explaining that which is not.

                As we've said, the expectations for "The Dark Knight Rises" were very high, and we should've known it probably wouldn't reach the heights of its predecessor. Nevertheless, it's a very good movie which is a joy to watch and makes up for not being great in itself by bringing a great conclusion to the trilogy.

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