Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight trilogy

Note 1: I have never watched a movie in IMAX. Until now. My first experience of IMAX was Nolan's 'The Dark Knight Trilogy', how fitting is that! \m/

Note 2: No-one needs to sell this trilogy to anyone, and this post doesn't attempt to. This, is a long personal rant about the almost religious experience I had. Tip: Do watch 'Batman Begins' again before watching TDKR. Ah, and I have marked the TDKR spoilers.

Batman Begins 

When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural.

Beginning is the end of the beginning. A storm is coming.

Let's say our caped crusader failed to prevent Ra's Al Ghul from releasing the toxin in the entire city, and Gotham was really torn apart. Out of it would have been born a new Gotham, like how a Phoenix rises from its ashes. This theme is reminiscent of Necessary Evil in 'Watchmen', or the destruction of Zion following the occurrence of the anomaly in 'The Matrix trilogy'. Assuming this to be the natural cycle of things - creation, sustenance, and eventual destruction, this makes Ra's Al Ghul (or, the League of Shadows) the hero of our story, and Batman, the anti-hero.

Of course, Batman saves the day before the people of Gotham collapse their city due to the toxin-induced fear and panic. Fear, or overcoming fear, is the most explicit and loudest theme in 'Begins'. What does overcoming fear mean? Does it mean the absence of our fears altogether, or does it mean channelizing it, and turning it against the ones we want to fight? And what do we really fear? Death? Ourselves? And love? Do we fear love because we don't understand it, and because of the grief and pain that it causes?

That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved one is just... poison in your veins.

The Dark Knight

What about escalation? 

Enter Joker - "Mind if I cut in?". What follows is total, absolute chaos. Joker pushes Batman to his limits, like he had been never before, and Gotham is engulfed in anarchy. Every action will have a reaction, and the harder you hit, the harder you will be hit.

This is how crazy Batman's made Gotham.

Continuing the hypothesis about Begins, Gotham must burn, and Gotham is presented with Joker this time, an agent of chaos. Batman has to face something which he cannot match. With Joker, there is Nothing Out There which could be used to threaten him with. Nothing to do with all of Batman's strength. The knight is darkest just before the dawn.

You know the thing about chaos? It's fair. 

The Dark Knight Rises

Bane is Gotham's Reckoning. Following the events that happened in Begins, Bane is a mercenary who leads an Underground Army to fulfill Ra's Al Ghul's destiny. It has been 8 years since Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent, a figure Gotham now worships, and Batman, declared an outlaw. Gotham's rebuilding is based on a lie, which puts Gotham On Thin Ice and threatens to shake the very foundations it stands on. Batman is not broken mentally this time, he is broken physically. This is pure adrenalin-fueled muscle-fight. This is not an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, this is the meeting of two unstoppable forces. And Gotham really burns as The Fire RisesThis movie is about facing your demons. Accepting them, and making your peace with them. Is Gotham really beyond saving?


Batman's fears come back to haunt him as he hits the lowest point in his life, literallyThe sequence about fear being essential quality for life, and it being the emotion that gives you the impulse in the single moment when it really matters, is mind-numbing.

Is it fear that makes us love? Or love, that makes us afraid? Batman must learn to be afraid again, and Batman must learn to love again. Batman must learn to let go, because Fear will Find You. Batman must remember how it felt like when he was really afraid. And Batman must remember how it felt like when he was truly in love. He must Imagine the Fire that once burned within him, and made him. And it is fear, and love, which saves Batman, and ultimately, Gotham. I feel so happy that the 'pit' sequences were filmed in India! It is the moment of truth for Batman in the entire series. And you cannot help but cheer our (un)masked hero when he, Rises.

The people's court sequences are neatly executed, and Death By Exile masterfully crafted. The movie also brings the story to a full circle as John Blake, a Gotham police officer, Born in Darkness, someone who shares a story similar to Batman's childood, rises in the Bat cave.

((end spoilers))

If you like hot women riding bikes, and if you loved Carrie-Anne Moss riding a Ducati in 'Matrix Reloaded', or if you loved Angelina Jolie in the motorcycle chase in 'Tomb Raider', wait till you see Anne Hathaway riding the Batpod! O. My. God. ♥ And goodness the moment when Catwoman goes "Don't be shy"! Anne Hathaway adds delicious sparks to the already spectacular fireworks.

And of course, this would be incomplete if Hans Zimmer's brilliant score spanning the complete trilogy isn't mentioned. He does well to maintain the grim, dark, and Despair consistently.

This movie makes 'Batman Begins' the most important film in the trilogy. 'Rises' is a fitting conclusion to a brilliant trilogy. Dey-shey bah-sur-rah. Rise.

The Dark Knight trilogy

The trilogy is epic, almost operatic. Batman, a romantic, tragic hero.

There are people and critics who go all "Rises isn't as good as the second movie." Newsflash - there isn't a second or a third movie! This is one story, told in three parts. And I find a lot of people saying that old characters weren't given enough space, and that there were too many new characters introduced. Well, I don't think that there was any other way to end the story fittingly. Compare it to a Shakespearean tragedy, where the climax happens in Act. III, new characters introduced in Act. IV, and Act. V is wrapping up of sorts. Would it be fair to say that Act. V lacked wherein Act. III excelled? Each part has it's own role to play in the big picture, the grand story. And Nolan did right in selling this movie as the "conclusion" to the Dark Knight story.

Nolan got the world eagerly waiting for the final installment, and I haven't been this excited about a movie is a looong time. rottentomatoes had to ban comments on TDKR reviews for a few days, and imdb is still awaiting "5 votes" before releasing the ratings. Now that's something!


"This is it.", says Nolan about his future involvement with DC properties related to the Batman. But he did end the movie in a way the movie studio could exploit in their future outings with the Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt would most certainly make a good Batman. 'Justice league' movie has already been announced. 'Man of Steel' releases next year. From the trailer and the information released so far, it deals with a young Superman's coming-of-age story. It would then hardly be a surprise if 'Man of Steel', 'Justice League', and the Batman "reboot" slated for 2015 are set in the same movie universe as this.

((end spoilers))

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called 'The Pledge' (Batman Begins). The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called 'The Turn' (The Dark Knight). The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call 'The Prestige'. (The Dark Knight Rises)

I cannot wait for what Nolan offers to us next. I cannot seem to think of any other director who has offered such disciplined film-making to our generation. Maybe it isn't Batman, but Nolan speaking to us:

You don't owe these people any more. You've given them, everything.
Not everything. Not yet.

IMAX vs 3D

IMAX is truly the movie format of/for the future. If 'Avatar' was the flag-bearer for 3D motion pictures, then 'The Dark Knight Rises' most certainly is for IMAX. With over 70 minutes of footage shot using IMAX cameras on its proprietary 70 mm film, this is the first major full-length motion picture to achieve this.

Having watched a lot of 3D movies recently, and regretting it, IMAX cannot disappoint by designWhile you can pick and choose which scenes to shoot in IMAX, the complete movie has to be in 3D, an inherent flaw. I can only imagine how much more gorgeous 'Avatar' would have looked had it been shot on IMAX. When the scenes in 'Rises' switch to those shot on IMAX, you are suspended in a moment of disbelief and awe, as you are presented with truly breathtaking imagery. The official IMAX logo gets it right, you have to see it to believe it. 

The format of the future definitely needs to extend, 3D just got the dimension wrong!

The Dark Knight trilogy...


  1. "This is not an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, this is the meeting of two unstoppable forces."
    Excellently put!!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Here be spoilers.

    First of all, an excellent review. But then, that's not why I am here.

    I had typed a whole para here and had to delete it because after 5 minutes of relentlessly crunching keys with my fingertips, I realized that I might sound more like a comics 'fanboy' than someone making any sense. So here is a revised version of what I wanted to say:

    Have you ever had the experience where you like a piece of art, a song maybe, and show it to others only to find their answers consist of monosyllabic 'meh's and 'cool's and then, three months onward, you find every guy around the corner suddenly becoming an aficionado? There was a time when , to me, this used to be a cause of anger, frustration and ridicule. There is a word today for exhibiting that sort of a mentality - I was a "hipster".

    But then I covered my hipster-attitude with a veil of maturity and now I am appreciative of others appreciation. The same thing happened with the Dark Knight. Suddenly every body was a Joker fan. Suddenly everyone wanted to see Batman Begins. (Personally, I do not care much for Batman Begins.) And suddenly everyone wanted to watch the Dark Knight Rises because of... well... Why? Because of the Joker? Because Batman's roster of villains is more colorful than he is? (Taken literally, maybe so)

    I am happy when I hear people say that they think that the second movie was better than the third. I am happy for them and their opinion.

    I loved the Dark Knight Rises. I loved it more than the Dark Knight. The reason might not be so obvious though. This movie appealed to the child within me. When I saw this movie, I was hollering in the IMAX hall, hollering and shouting at the top of my voice, jumping off my seat when I saw Bruce Wayne in the Wayne Manor, gaping like a hormone flooded adolescent when I saw Catwoman as I had seen and imagined her so many times in an age before the internet, grinning like an ass when Alfred presses three pairs of piano keys knowing the most iconic super-hero lair would now be revealed, blushing like an idiot whenever I saw the duo make out, punching the air when I saw Bane break Batman's back, and chanting along with the prison inmates when Bruce made the leap... it was my leap of faith, it was my moment of reckoning, so to speak. No more Vicky Vale, no more Rachel Dawes, no more Miranada Tate or any of the army of bimbos that have assaulted this character. The moment I saw the bomb go off, I knew TDKR had been achieved. The Dark Knight "Returns" had been achieved. Zack Snyder might make a movie on it someday, but it will be only so close to it in spirit as the Watchmen was to Alan Moore's work.

    I am happy for those who loved the movie but think it wasn't nearly as good as the previous one. I am happy because they will never feel what I felt when I saw Alfred smile at the end of the movie, sitting in a cafe in Florence. The 7 year old in me loved the bare knuckled fight that he had seen in the campy 60's series; the 13 year old in me is at peace knowing how Batman recovered from Bane's punishment; the 17 year old me is ecstatic believing that the couple of Bruce and Selina has finally made it; and the 24 year old me can finally rest knowing that someone in this Universe had the decency to give Batman the ending he deserved.

    Now, it is time to move on.

  4. It was a good script that was poorly executed. An amateur could have edited it better, I reckon.

    @daGmann: I hate people who make a ruckus in the movie theater. You may find this ridiculous, but some of us - who love the characters as much as you do - actually want to make sure that we experience the movie in all its audio-visual glory, make sure that we don't miss a single second of it, and, believe it or not, are not there to see footage of Batman fighting Bane with an idiot shouting at the top of his voice in the background. Can you imagine how many of your comrade-fanboys you ruined the night for? Fanboys *exactly* like you who had been waiting for this movie before it was even conceptualized? Fanboys who couldn't get into the "zone" simply because instead of the spectacularly ominous score by Mr. Zimmer they had to listen to what you sound like when you are climaxing?

    Be a little more considerate the next time. Please.

    1. Misdirected anger. Sorry.

      Power to the knight!

    2. I knew exactly the sort of comments I was going to get when I posted that, there is no need to apologize there.

      It was not for nothing that I decided to delete my 'other' comment. Nonetheless, you do have a point. People hate guys like me who holler and scream through the movie, showing their fanboy instincts. But to assume that you derived something extraordinary from the Batman-Bane sequence even if someone shouted in the background would be saying too much. However, that was a mere example and I must say I was not alone in the action. We can assume from your "climaxing" argument that there was an "orgy" of sorts in action.

      But then again, let me assume that you are a fanboy, or girl, to a certain degree, and that your movie experience was thoroughly ruined by the hollering of others, including me, I apologize. Not for the fact that it was ruined, but that I, or others like me, chose a venue where people came to see artistic performances in a Super-Hero movie. You do understand that the Joker, if that is the standard set by the previous movie, was playing what I had seen the character play in comic books for eons now, right?

      Nonetheless, kindly accept my apologies for ruining this movie for you. I never did throw such a spectacular display of disturbances in the Artist or even the Avengers. It is just that there is an event for some of us, maybe in a movie hall, maybe in a sports match, when the word 'climax' is not even close to describing the feeling that one feels.

      Oh, by the way, I don't think we'd be seeing any more batman movies anytime soon. So you wouldn't have to bother with "this" fanboy anymore.

      Power to the knight!

    3. Oh, and as for the script... Well the first time I saw it, yeah, I thought the same thing (but of course, it did not matter). But the second time (and no, I did not ruin it for anybody this time) I realized it was Nolan's Inception style of film making at play. Sure, the editing could have been tighter, but calling it an Amateur's day out is too simple a point of view. This movie deserved more hours than *most* fanboys would have been able to sit through.

    4. You say that nothing extraordinary could possibly be derived from the Batman-Bane sequence and I agree but only partially. Maybe it wasn't the most pivotal part, maybe it was the most linear and the most predictable sequence in the entire movie, but it doesn't change the fact that, in the theater that I was in, the dull thud of Bane's punches was every now and then drowned by some idiot yelling "Ouch!" Fuck you, Captain Obvious.

      I did go to the theater to see an artistic performance because that is exactly what I expected from the cast. You'd have to be slightly fucked in the head if you expected anything less from them, especially Bale. But more importantly, I went there expecting to be blown away by the epic-ness of the story Nolan wanted to tell. I went because I wanted to feel the story, I wanted to be in there and feel what Bruce Wayne was feeling. I wanted to feel every punch Batman took and I wanted to feel terrified of what more Bane could do. Maybe to have one of those "almost religious experience"s of my own. What I did not expect was the shithead sitting somewhere behind me who had already seen the movie yelling, "You're going to love this part." What I did not expect was people thinking out loud inside the theater, "Do you think he is dead?" Fuck you. The whole point of surround-sound/going to a theater is to immerse yourself completely in whatever you want to watch. Not to surround yourself with idiots who just won't shut up! It is them idiots I have a problem with, not idiot-fanboys like you. This is the whole fucking reason I apologized.

      Now that we've cleared up that, I know you are a fanboy, Bhaskar, but I don't think it's possible even for you to simply glaze over the screwed-up post-processing job Nolan did this time. Background score louder than the dialogues being spoken on-screen? You don't need to be a world-class director to know what's messed up here.

    5. @Bhakkar, thanks :) I was kind of hoping you'll put a loooong comment! \m/ I get what you are saying, especially the last paragraph of your first comment! I wish/hope/request that you do a post on the trilogy.

      Coming to the discussion happening above.

      @Anonymous, can we decide what exactly it is that you have a problem with? You have a problem with the movie? Or the director? The editor? The sound-design? Or with the person sitting next to you in the movie theater? Because if it is just the last one, your opinion of the movie would change if you watched the movie after a month or two on DVD?

      You wanted to be "blown away by the epicness of the story Nolan wanted to tell"? Ummmm, Nolan began telling the particular story in question some seven years back, in 2005. Yes yes, "Captain Obvious" and "shithead" ruined this one for you. (Wait, were they getting paid by Marvel?) And "screwed-up post processing job"?! :D One moment you had a problem with editing (And it was not terrible as it has been made out to be above. Sure we can talk about it, but it isn't a "discussion" when the argument starts with "An amateur could have edited it better, I reckon.". This is just blasting something you didn't/couldn't enjoy just for the heck of it. If it really was so terrible, a few specific arguments couldn't have hurt the conversation), and second, "Background score louder than the dialogues being spoken on-screen"?! You do realize that this mess might not have been Nolan's, but of the theater you watched the movie in? ...if you knew a little about projection and sound systems. This is similar to saying something such as - "OH MY GOD! THE DIRECTOR MESSED IT UP SO BAD! THE DIALOGUES AND THE VIDEO WERE OUT OF SYNC!!!!" <- hear how silly this sounds?

      Maybe Nolan failed on some levels with his latest outing. Maybe. But just because you went with certain unreasonable expectations out of this, and taking a stance against the popular opinion, *without* giving reasonable arguments *for* your case, I must say it doesn't help us in taking you seriously. And posting it anonymously makes it worse.

      Hope you get to enjoy the movie the way it was intended to be, when the crowd's gone, in a week or two. Maybe then we'll talk again.

    6. 1. Problems mostly with the movie-theater person.
      2. Opinion might change about execution of the story. I like the story already.
      3. I agree that he started telling the story way back in 2005, but it doesn't mean that if someone screws up the last part of the story for you, the first two parts make up for it. So, mind not blown.
      4. Maybe they were being paid by Marvel. Shitehead sounds like he'd stink though.
      5. I was really talking about the post-processing bit when I said editing, and please accept my apologies for that.
      6. First of all, of course it sounds silly, you put it all in caps. Secondly, there were several intense scenes in this one, and more than a few scenes with Zimmer's score thundering in the background. However, only some of those scenes were fucked in the movie hall. This is not just a problem that I had but a problem many of my friends had, and no they were not in the same theater with me. I think it is highly improbable that some wanker in all of these theaters was playing with the volume-knob instead of his you-know-what. There you go, concrete enough?
      7. I expected a well-made movie with no obvious flaws. Every movie can be ripped to shreds if you think hard enough about it. However, to notice flaws while you're watching it is something else entirely.
      8. Posting it anonymously makes it worse? Just because you don't know who I am, I have lost by credibility? Screw you guys, I'm going to Florence.
      - Batman

  5. @Anonymous

    Alright, so let's make a few things clear.
    1. I am a fanboy. Alright, that is out of the way.
    2. You have pivoted yourself around the one statement made by me regarding "Hollering" and have already decided that I am to be demeaned to the status of *shithead* and so on. Well, you obviously weren't in my theater. (The sound quality was definitely better there). Also, there are more lines than just that in my post which which, I hope, weren't a cause for emotional distress to you as well.
    3. You resort to obscenities and, well, that is normal. But tell me, what irked you to such a degree? Were you watching it in the theater reserved for assholes and, since it was a reservation, made you dislike your fraternity?
    4. Again, I apologize if you were in IMAX Mumbai. Since you already seem to know my name, might as well know where I watched the movie. Though the crowd did seem to relish the atmosphere.
    5. I promise you I did not ruin any dialogues for anyone. Being a 'fanboy', I was as intent as the avant-garde film goer sitting next to me waiting to relish the scene. Of course, I did not share his disappointment.
    6. Marvel did not pay me. And if they did, I would have done a spectacular job. I do not do what I can do for free, you see.
    7. I will not interfere in the Movie making part of the conversation because everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that is not my battle. I agree to some points, but then, as you so eloquently put it, it was a religious experience for me.
    8. Of course you went to the theater to see men clad in high priced hockey pads and women in sleek latex (Kevlar, I suspect) suits to watch artistic performances. I always thought that what was brought to the screen in terms of the character performances was an addition, not the end in itself. I reiterate, you are entitled to your opinion and so am I. If it differs, we debate in a civil manner.
    9. And regarding the Batman and Bane scene, since we are sticking to it as an exemplary instance of movie ruination, there was abject horror in the hall, only to be interrupted by the crunching of Batman's bones (see, I heard that... where were you watching it man?) and *that* is where my hands went up celebrating a triumph of honest portrayals.

    You can yap on about what you want to man, but I have work and there is no point "arguing" with a person who has already made up his/her mind. I do not want your verdict or your judgement passed on me. On a different forum I would have liked to shred you piece by piece. But this is a dear friend's blog, and that comment was meant for him. You can run around under your cover your anonymity calling yourself Batman and two shits will not be given.

    If you want an apology for ruining your experience, from all fanboys the world over, I am sorry. But these fanboys will go to see it again, and again. And you can wait for the Director's cut where a running commentary is required to understand why this movie was good.

  6. Bhaskar, chill, man. No one was passing any sort of judgement on you. "Shithead" and "Captain Obvious" were people sitting where *I* was. I'm going to ignore points number 2-6 therefore. I thought I had made it pretty clear that "It is them idiots I have a problem with, not idiot-fanboys like you." and I meant idiot-fanboy in the most respectful way one can.

    Agree with point number 7 and 8 in that we are entitled to our own opinions about the movie.

    Regarding point number 9, what you heard is exactly what I missed, and then some more, and that is exactly why I am sore.

    To reiterate, I do not want an apology from fanboys. I told you that my anger was *misdirected* at fanboys and I seem to remember apologizing it.

    So to round this up, angry witg the idiot in my theater, not you/fanboys. Now that we've cleared that up, it is a beautiful, sunny day in Florence and I'm going to go take a walk.

    Without the bomb, of course -