Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

A friend of mine asked me recently if she could see The Dark Knight Rises without having seen the other two films starring Christian Bale. Would she understand what was going on? Well, to be honest, no. She wouldn't have a clue as to what's going on.
When we last left Batman, he agreed with Commissioner Gordon that Harvey Dent would be left as a hero instead of the disfigured evil villain he was, and that Batman would take the blame for all the destruction Two-Face left in his wake.
Eight years later, we find that Bruce Wayne is a shadow of the man we knew. Not only that, but Wayne Enterprises is pretty much broke. But a new villain has come to town, and Batman had better figure things out or Gotham is lost.
I normally don't write reviews about big movies because I figure they've been reviewed to death. But this one is so good that there are so many things that spring out at the viewer and cry for attention.
First of all, let me say this film is a worthy successor to the last. It's wonderfully imagined and filmed. Bale may not be your favorite Batman, but he's certainly the most distressed you've ever seen. We see and feel his pain, and the modern Batman, this 21st century non-Superhero, is plagued with self-doubt and has the whole distrust of his city on his back.
Several new characters enter the fray. And they're all interesting.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Blake, a policeman who rises to detective, and he represents the moral core of the film. He's also Everyman here, you and me, should we find ourselves in such a situation (provided we're good people, brave, with a sense of right and wrong).
Bane is a new type of villain, one who has his own moral sense and loyalties, many of them hidden to us. But his physicality is clearly frightening. Tom Hardy (Bane) just keeps upping his profile, he's that good.
Marion Cotillard keeps finding nice, sometimes smallish roles in which she can let her qualities shine. She's Wayne's new girlfriend, a woman in the energy industry who seems to understand what the city (and Bruce) needs.
Perhaps the most startling role of all is Selina, portrayed by Anne Hathaway, who looks like Catwoman, but nobody ever calls her that. While most all Batman villains are certifiably insane (Dent, the Joker, etc.), Selina is not insane. She's a thief. But she takes it to a whole 'nother level.
And while we've seen Commissioner Gordon before (Gary Oldman), he's quite different in this film. He takes a different path.
We're not dealing with redemption here. We're dealing with a phoenix. Can he rise again to save the city and people he loves? The various pieces here -- and there are many -- come together in an explosive denouement. It's a long film. Be sure to budget your time. Your interest will definitely be taken care of.
Thumb's up.


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