Monday, July 23, 2012
Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises
Eight years have passed since the end of "The Dark Knight," when Harvey Dent (then going by Two-Face) went on a killing spree. Batman took the fall for Dent's crimes to preserve the heroic DA's memory. In turn this has allowed Commissioner Gordon to clean up organized crime in the city and make Gotham City about as peaceful as it's ever been.
Meanwhile, the man behind the Bat, Bruce Wayne, hides in his mansion, letting everyone think he's taken a Howard Hughes-style turn. That is until he's visited by a catburglar named Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman, though that name is never used in the film. She steals Bruce's mother's necklace but also something else very important.
At the same time, a mercenary named Bane has escaped from CIA custody and heads into Gotham. He has a very intricate scheme to destroy Gotham, with the help of a business rival of Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, and an army of thugs. After Commissioner Gordon stumbles onto Bane's hideout in the sewers and is wounded, Bruce decides it's time for the Batman to return, against the wishes of his butler and former guardian Alfred.
I don't want to spoil the Byzantine plot too much. I will say if you go to Wikipedia and look up "Batman Knightfall" and "Batman No Man's Land" it will give you an idea of where things are heading. There's a little bit of the French Revolution mixed in too, or perhaps the Occupy movement. Ultimately it leads to Batman perhaps having to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his city. If you want a hint about that, think of the end of "The Avengers" from last May. (And though no one else has probably read it yet the fifth Scarlet Knight story, which I wrote in winter 2010, also ends in a very similar fashion.)
To address what I said at the beginning, there are a few things that were pretty implausible. The fusion generator first of all, especially a fusion generator that can fit into an armored truck. At this point even if that technology existed, I'm pretty sure it would take up a very large room. Also, I'm pretty sure you can't pop your spine back in like a dislocated shoulder. Even if you could, I don't think you could go running around kung-fu fighting people a month later. And yeah "The Bat" does not actually fly and probably couldn't.
Anyway, it is a little slow in the build-up. If you were expecting wall-to-wall action that's not really this movie. There are some good one-liners and puns, but it's not as funny as "The Avengers" nor should it be. I mean come on, Batman isn't a funny guy.
The end is great, even if it seems to operate under movie time. I mean it's still dark when they say "We have 45 minutes left!" and then like the next scene it's morning and the sun is shining. That's a quick sunrise! I wasn't happy with the ending for Bane, but oh well. There are definitely a couple of surprises you probably won't see coming, or perhaps you will. I'm sure if you watch it again the clues will be more obvious.
It is a great way to wrap up the series, incorporating a lot of elements from both "The Dark Knight" and "Batman Begins." The latter actually seems to be involved more. There aren't any mentions of the Joker, perhaps out of respect to Heath Ledger, while we get flashbacks of Ra's Al Ghul and Two-Face. Anyway, I would suggest doing as I did and watching "Batman Begins" beforehand to refresh yourself with some of the important plot points.
Overall it's been pretty incredible what Christopher Nolan accomplished with these films. While the Tim Burton ones were nice, the Nolan movies made me at least think Batman could be real. Not only Batman, but also the villains he faces are not so implausible. Actually Two-Face might be the most implausible just because of how overboard the FX people went on his face. I mean no one with that kind of damage should be able to get out of bed, let alone go on a homicidal rampage.
Of course if you really want to know how to be a real superhero, you should read the Practical Superheroism posts every fourth Wednesday, which would be THIS Wednesday. I'm just saying...
On a side note, I hope people come out and support the film. You shouldn't let the actions of one lunatic stop you from living your life. That's what we all said after 9/11, right? And it's still true in this case.
That is all.
My score: 85/100 (3.5 stars)
Metacritic score: 78/100 (3 stars)
Tomorrow is a Two-Fer Tuesday...