Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises
seen @ Jackson Heights Cinemas, Jackson Heights, Queens, NY

Many of us will never know what it feels like to kill another human being, even if only in self-defense. If we were to be honest with ourselves, though, the truth is that we crave that feeling from time to time. That guy on the freeway who cut you off. The supervisor who you just know has it in for you. The teenager on the subway playing his iPod too damn loud.

Most of us, however, find alternatives to acting on these impulses. Going to the movies is one. Maybe we can't take a knife to the throat of the woman next door who plays her TV at high volume at two AM, but there's a certain catharsis we get from seeing Jason Bourne or Iron Man or James Bond enact violence for us. It can be an adrenaline rush, and it can be immensely satisfying.

But sometimes make-believe violence isn't satisfying enough.

I'm not about to make some tirade against violence in movies. True, I was a bit more, shall we say, uncomfortable, sitting through trailers for The Expendables 2, Total Recall, and Taken 2 in front of The Dark Knight Rises than I would have been two weeks ago. But TDKR, indeed all three of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, has more than its share of violence. It didn't bother me before and it doesn't now, because plain and simple, I like it. Why? Because I know it's not real. Regrettably, some people are unable or unwilling to make that distinction...

...but I believe most people can. So when I see Hollywood bigwigs talking about wanting to be more responsible regarding the level of violence in their films, or studios wanting to recut or  reshoot future films because of what happened in Aurora, I worry because it feels like a dangerous precedent could be set, one that could lead to restrictions on this art form we call movies. Bottom line: people getting shot in a movie can be terrifying, awesome, hilarious or profound... but it's not real. Remember that.

So I went to the Jackson to see TDKR and there were two uniformed cops hanging around outside under the marquee. When the movie ended, a squad car was parked on the street, right in front. My immediate reaction was, "Are you kidding me?" Folks, the Jackson is an ancient neighborhood theater with only three screens, located in the middle of Queens, far removed from the bright lights of Manhattan. Does the NYPD really think a copycat shooter is gonna come here of all places? And for that matter, how long should we expect to see cops casing theaters showing TDKR? The rest of the summer? I had my laptop with me and I was fully expecting to be searched, but it didn't happen.

The movie itself was entertaining - my stomach was in knots towards the end, it was so intense - and it finished pretty much the way you would want this movie, and this trilogy, to end, given the fact that Nolan and Christian Bale are through with it, but I was shocked at the amount of gaping plot holes. TDKR is paced very quickly, because so much happens in it, and as a consequence, certain plot elements go by totally unexplained, and I don't mean minor ones either. (If you want to go into more detail, let's talk about it in the comments, where we can go into spoiler material.) Honestly, they almost ruined the film completely for me.

Tom Hardy's Bane made me long for Joel Schumacher again. His pro wrestler getup looked out of place in this context (I still remember how skinny he was in Star Trek: Nemesis - can't believe how much he bulked up for this role!) and talked like Sean Connery imitating Darth Vader. I barely understood what he was even saying half the time.

Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, just might be the best Catwoman ever. She was exactly the right combination of sexy and deadly, with a certain degree of character as well (as much as could be gleaned from a ginormous ensemble film like this). I agree with Nolan that she deserves a solo movie.

So is TDKR the best "part three" movie ever, or at least the best one of the superhero genre? I'd say yes to the latter by default, but given how utterly wretched most "part three" superhero movies are, that's not saying a whole lot. The bar can be raised a little higher. It's definitely not the best of the Nolan trilogy, though I'm not sure if I can decide between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Still, I give Nolan all the credit in the world for raising superhero movies to the next level. Indeed, it almost seems wrong to call them such; they play more like a cross between crime dramas and James Bond-like thrillers. The fact that the hero wears a mask and cape seems incidental. TDK was such a critical success that it came within a batarang of a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and the fact that it didn't get it led to major changes in the way Best Picture is voted on. And of course, the late Heath Ledger will forever be remembered as portraying one of cinema's greatest antagonists.

These three films will leave behind a legacy that goes far beyond movies and far beyond pop culture. I think it's safe to say that they changed the world.

Some men just want to watch the world burn
Man of Steel
'Man of Steel' must escape Reeve's shadow


  1. I can't discuss the film yet as something just a bunch has me less interested and it's all about things I realized about the film, but I thought there's one point you'd find interesting.

    Bane is not the biggest Tom Hardy has been. He's about the same size as he was in Bronson. If you actually go back and look at Nemesis though, Shinzon is all in tight leather, so it's hard to tell, but he was big then. The biggest he's been though was WARRIOR. He is freaking HUGE in that and cut as well, supposedly the best shape he had ever been in.

    1. Heard of 'Bronson,' never saw it. Forgot about 'Warrior' though; he did look big in that.

  2. I agree that it's more of a drama than a superhero movie. This is fine with me, but I do admit that I would've enjoyed more Catwoman antics. Anne Hathaway was spectacular, and while I would've liked more screen time for her, I understand that it was an already long and packed film. I, too, am glad that I put it off a bit and enjoyed it without the initial shock ringing in my head.

  3. Catwoman, I think, was never really taken this seriously as a character - in TV and film - before now. Even Pfeiffer's Catwoman, great as it was, never really had much of an agenda in comparison to Hathaway's, nor was she all that faithful to the comic. And of course Berry's version was even less so.

  4. Great line! "...talked like Sean Connery imitating Darth Vader."

    1. Supposedly it was worse in the early trailers.

  5. Rumors have it that Anne Hathaway is talking a Catwoman spin-off, so you may get more of her in the future. I was wondering if you were going to see TDKR in the theaters or not. Just as an aside, I've added you to my Liebster Award list. If you'd like to participate:

  6. Thanks; I'll go take a look.

  7. I agree that Nolan has indeed set the bar for superhero films, and I do like his Batman films are more like a crime dramas than comic-book movies in that there are as much dialog than action sequences, if not more.

    That said, I do not think this is the best of the trilogy.

  8. Yeah, I don't either, but I'm still not sure which is. Maybe I should watch TDK again...


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