Thursday, July 26, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises (Spoilers)

Directed by:
Christopher Nolan
Written by:
Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and
Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
Christopher Nolan (story) & David S. Goyer (story)

Christian Bale        Bruce Wayne
Gary Oldman        Commissioner Gordon
Tom Hardy        Bane
Joseph Gordon-Levitt    Blake
Anne Hathaway        Selina
Marion Cotillard    Miranda
Morgan Freeman        Fox
Michael Caine        Alfred
Matthew Modine        Foley
Alon Aboutboul        Dr. Pavel (as Alon Moni Aboutboul)
Ben Mendelsohn        Daggett
Burn Gorman        Stryver
Daniel Sunjata        Captain Jones
Aidan Gillen        CIA Op
Sam Kennard        Special Ops Sergeant
Aliash Tepina        Hooded Man #2
Nestor Carbonell    Mayor
Brett Cullen        Congressman

It’s eight years after Commissioner Gordon and Batman have cleaned up Gotham City.  Bruce Wayne’s still nursing his injuries. Gordon is sticking with the lie that Harvey Dent was the city’s hero.

The Bat Signal’s fallen to disrepair along with the Caped Crusader’s reputation. Wayne has retired from public life and left the Wayne Corporation to run itself after an attempt to create a safe nuclear reactor for clean energy reveals that the device may well work, but could be used as a bomb. His only interaction is with his faithful butler, Alfred, until the Catwoman steals his mother’s pearls. He chases her to reclaim the prize only to discover she was actually after a good deal more than jewels.

Blake, a new officer on the Gotham force, notices one of the young boys from his former orphanage, Saint Swithun’s, is dead. He learns that The Wayne Foundation has cut funding for boys over sixteen and many of the boys are going underground to the sewers because there’s work to be had there. The work turns out to be crime.

There’s a new villain in town and this one may well be the ruin of Gotham City. Bane, the protégé of Ra’s Al Ghul who was first Wayne’s mentor then nemesis, is planning to use the Wayne Industries reactor to blow Gotham to dust. Bane’s an interesting character. To me, he seemed like an unclothed Darth Vader with more swagger than the Sith Lord’s ominous menace.

The first portion of the film was riveting with a daring midair highjack scene that will take your breath away. Catwoman’s escapades are well-done. Anne Hathaway isn’t Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar, but she’s definitely well above Halle Berry’s insipid portrayal of the slinky jewel thief.

The central act dragged. Bane’s political attack on the stock exchange, etc. was far too heavy-handed. Times I couldn’t tell if he was a 9/11 terrorist or an Occupier. Perhaps that was Christopher Nolan’s intent? Sticking Wayne in Bane’s former oubliette of a prison seemed like a gimme.

No, I’m not telling you the end. I will say the action picked up and the film delivered. It’s a worthy finale for a three-part series, which was mostly good.

What I liked most about the film was the music. This surprised me because James Newton Howard was not involved in this picture as he was the first two. The soundtrack is the best Batman music ever. Hans Zimmer makes every note drive the plot forward. If you want music that will get you moving, consider this soundtrack for a heart-pumping workout. The sound’s definitely the best Dark Knight soundtrack and possibly Zimmer’s high note as well. 

As always, Michael Caine was the best Alfred ever. Christian Bale delivered a stirring performance as Bruce-Batman, and Gary Oldman’s reprisal of Commissioner Gordon was his best in the series. I’m going to be watching out for Joseph Gordon Leavitt, who played Blake. He may well be the next big action hero.

As for the rating,  The Dark Knight Rises was worth matinee price. While I have the other two films in the series, I am not sure whether I will purchase the DVD or not. I didn’t like The Dark Knight Rises as well as either of its predecessors.

I suspect this film will be forever tainted by the shootings in Aurora, Colorado on the night of its opening. Whether the shootings are a direct relation to the film or not may never be known. What I would like to say is remember the film’s message. Batman’s mission is about heroism, taking care of your fellowman and helping those who need it. My hope is the fans of Batman will rally around the victims. If you want to help, here’s a link: 

Giving First

PARENTAL ADVISORY:  This film is rated PG-13 for violence. Please do not bring your little children to the theater. One child in the audience with us was screaming and begging to leave. If your kid isn’t old enough to handle this kind of film, do them and the audience a favor and leave them home.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, July 2012

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