The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) was something which I have been waiting to watch for the past one year. I am a huge Nolan fan for a very simple reason that I do not think any Hollywood director arrests an audience all over the world including India and takes you to a completely different world visually and then explains everything simply in a meticulous fashion without you feeling confused as to what the hell is going on. He is often called over rated for explaining things too much, which most people said was the case in Inception. But it is due to this explaining, the movie appealed to even the common man and became such a huge hit in India. He is best commercial director in Hollywood that there is.
Having said that, the expectation from TDKR was immense, but let me make one thing very clear at the start of the review that I did not have the The Dark Knight (TDK) hangover. TDKR starts off superbly, the first 20 minutes is gripping, has a good pace and is engaging. After that, it just meanders through the first half consistently lacking in pace and having a high quotient of drama. I have not seen this much drama even in Nolan’s more emotional film like The Prestige. TDKR is over written and for the first time I felt that the words had overtaken visuals in a Nolan film. Whenever it seemed like the film is picking up the bol bachan ruined it. It lacked the edginess that TDK had and a pure atmospheric grip that Batman Begins provided. TDKR was more similar to Batman Begins than TDK, but not in a good way.
The relationships between the characters seem scattered and not enough to sink your teeth in to, because of which you cannot seem to make a connection or an emotional attachment with anyone throughout the film. Be it Batman & Catwoman, Batman & Blake, Batman & Miranda, Gordon & Blake, so on and so forth. The back story was sketchy and again verbose rather than visual. The characters were underdeveloped which was the biggest problem for me being a Chris Nolan film. It was shocking to see the characters being under developed. All your favourite characters of the first two parts lacked proper footage on-screen which made it very frustrating. The likes of Fox (Morgan Freeman) and Gordon (Gary Oldman) had very little to do in terms of taking the story forward and were merely used as set pieces. More footage was given to likes of Anne Hathway (Catwoman) and Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Catwoman especially seemed undeveloped and really unwanted in terms of story. I still do not clearly know where she came from and why was she supporting Bane so much to let the city be destroyed. Lot of questions were left unanswered.
All this wouldn’t have mattered so much to me, if at least the power that we were supposed to feel when Bane and Batman came face to face for the first time was better executed and felt. There was a pure loss of rivalry, it seemed you can’t really feel strongly about their confrontation and even though the physique and stature of both the guys were huge you don’t really feel that mammothness. The only scene which arrests you is when Bane beats the hell out of Batman in the underground sequence. Bane was my favourite character in the movie. The way Tom Hardy managed to emote through only his eyes and especially his voice was just A grade. The narration lacked a flow that we are so used in any of Nolan’s films. It doesn’t matter how confusing his films are, the narration makes it easier to be on the right track and TDKR though not confusing derails us because of the narration.
The action sequences are edge of the seat especially the Batman entry sequence and best of all the football stadium blowing sequence. The film looks amazing visually and creates the atmosphere that was needed. But, what it lacks is that you just can’t feel the tension that Gotham city is getting destroyed and there is no one to save it, you are just not rooting for Batman to come back and that basically breaks the backbone of the film. The screenplay seems too crowded and going on in different directions, which affects the overall premise of the movie. Like for example, the whole Harvey Dent angle didn’t have anything to do with the overall context of the film. All said and done kudos to the fact that Nolan has not missed an angle in TDKR he has pulled out all the stocks, bringing together all the elements of the previous two movies in to this one and the story comes out full circle making it a proper sequel. The whole Ra’s Al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) angle from the first one which led to form the crux of the story and the whole Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) angle from the TDK which kicks off the movie in an interesting fashion.
TDKR had a lot of good potential which went to waste because of sloppy narration, too many characters and an uneven pace. It doesn’t grip you for 2 hrs 45 minutes of its duration , making you very uninterested on the events unfolding on-screen. So much so that when the final twist of the film * Spoiler Alert* about Miranda being a villain comes out, you are not really in a flow of the narration to be shocked. Every great story deserves a great ending, this one had great ending, the problem was the rest of the film lacked greatness.