Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Let's start right off the bat (pun not intended) by saying that this post is not about what happened in Aurora. That is an unspeakable and, in some ways, unexplainable tragedy. It's never wise to start pointing fingers and assigning blame so quickly (as some people have felt the need to do). I suspect that the shooter's motivation is a lot more complex than a simple, one-word answer, such as "guns" or "Hollywood" or whatever. For those of us on the outside looking in, the best thing we can do is offer support to those in need and join the ancient prayer of "Kyrie, eleison." Lord, have mercy.

With that out of the way, let's talk about The Dark Knight Rises.

I went to see it Thursday night as part of a movie marathon. I got to the theater at 6:00 so I could watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before the final movie kicked off at 12:01 am. As much as I'm paying for that now (I got to bed at 3:30; not a wise choice), I think that helped keep the other two movies fresh in my mind.

So what's the plot of this one? Well, it's several years after the events of The Dark Knight. Inspired by the legend of Harvey Dent (and blissfully kept in the dark about the monster he eventually became), the citizens of Gotham City have cleaned up their act. Crime is down, people are feeling more prosperous, and everything is coming up roses. For the most part. Sure, there are still the poor and downtrodden, but they're mostly out of sight.

Not everything has gone well for Bruce Wayne, however. He's become something of a recluse, hiding in the rebuilt Wayne Manor, his body slowly falling apart from his time as a vigilante. It would take something major for him to rejoin society and don the cape and cowl once again.

That something is Bane, a terrorist with a very odd mask. Bane is the leader of a mercenary group, one that is suicidally loyal to him. He comes to Gotham armed with a complex plan with a simple goal: level the playing field for everyone. And then kill everyone.

Thrown into the mix is a cat burglar named Selina Kyle and you've got a great movie, one that kept my attention all the way through.

Were there bad parts? Yeah, a few. I wasn't entirely enamored with Bane and his headgear. It wasn't just the fact that he sounded like he had a Darth Vader noise machine wired in there. Tom Hardy's choice of accent (whatever it was) threw me off for a while and there were times when his voice was hard to understand. And while I get Christopher Nolan's decision to not mention the Joker out of respect for Heath Ledger, that silence didn't fit the story all that well. That's my grubby little opinion, but there you go.

But there were plenty of surprises in the movie. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised by Anne Hathaway. I seem to have something of a blind spot for her. When I heard she was playing Selina Kyle, my immediate reaction was, "Really? The girl from The Princess Diaries?" But I think Hathaway did an excellent job. She captured Selina Kyle's playfulness, cleverness, and ferocity in a way that worked.

There were also two surprise twists that I didn't see coming, although I should have seen the first one. I mean, I know the Batman mythos fairly well. I should have seen through the smokescreen that Nolan set up around some of the characters to realize what was truly going on. But instead, I swallowed the deception and chalked it up to "artistic license," which made the reveal a lot more fun. The second twist, I didn't see it coming and laughed out loud when it happened. If you've seen the movie, it's the one that happened right before the ending.

And can I say how much I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this too? Simply awesome.

So I'd say that this is a film worth watching, a great non-superhero superhero flick that really wrapped up Nolan's trilogy well. I've read rumors that Warner Brothers is already starting plans for a Batman reboot. I would not want to work on that movie, because Nolan has left some mighty huge shoes to fill.

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