When I was growing up, I would never expect an action hero movie to have complex and real characters, played by an ensemble cast of A-list actors. Watching ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ last evening, I had a distinct feeling that times have changed. That this is not just a Hollywood blockbuster, not just a summer tentpole; that such a movie is not conceived by just the money people, that beyond being a lucrative comic book franchise minting money around the world, there is a perfect storm of financiers and artisans moulding this last instalment of ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ into a masterpiece of cinematic gem.
Every acclaimed actor has a key role to play. Every piece of the story is an integral part of the central plot that unravels with a pace that turns the conventional three act structure on its head. From the opening sequence, which is not unlike an impressive Bond movie scene-setter, the stage is set for a larger-than-life yet realistic and layered story telling that caters to fans and non-fans of Batman. The arc of each character digs deep into the human psyche yet with occasional playful twists to hold the movie within reach of a summer blockbuster for the masses.
Of course, after ‘Batman Begins’ and especially ‘The Dark Knight’, we know this movie will be good. But ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ still rises above all expectations, beyond all jaded cinema audiences, to become easily one of the best movies in recent times. I saw it on an Imax screen. It is deliberately non-3D. Yet it has more dimensions than most movies I know. The cast and crew seemed to be working within a trusted family. Some new comers to this franchise were in the cast of ‘Inception’.
The screenplay is written by the director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan. Beyond a brooding Bruce Wayne, as the caped crusader, Christian Bale brings a human quality that centers the plausibility of the story. With so many prominent actors, it is amazing there are no scene stealers. Everyone fits in, with the two female leads taking turns to play the villain. Tom Hardy’s villain resonates as a terrorist of the real world. As I left the cinema, the oldest and the youngest actors left me with the strongest impressions. Michael Caine as Alfred and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a possible Robin.