Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


Superheroes are usually infallible, except for whatever their one weakness is.  What I mean is that after a knock down, drag-out end of the world fight, they are able to get up, wipe the dirt off their shoulder, and walk away without any visible scars.  Batman is not superhuman though, he relies on technology and a therapist's dream amount of anger.  It has been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight and no Gothamite has seen even a glimpse of Batman (Christian Bale).  Coincidentally, nobody has seen reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne either.

Bruce limps now; he shuffles around with a cane, stoops his shoulders, and has no cartilage in his knees.  During a fundraiser, he is actually at a disadvantage and lets a cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), sneak into his rooms and steal his dead mother's pearls right in front of him.  Yep, Bruce Wayne is depressed.  Business isn't doing too well either.  Along with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) who runs the day-to-day of Wayne Enterprises, Bruce sunk half his money into nuclear fusion research trying to develop clean energy for Gotham City.  That avenue does not appear to be taking off any time soon.  Alas, if it was just his money, Bruce probably would not be so down in the dumps, but he also took the money of philanthropist and do-gooder Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard).  Bruce really does not like to lose a good looking lady's money.  

The Dark Knight Rises would be an altogether odd Batman film if the main villains were depression and the recession.  No worries, the bad guy this time literally emerges from a dark hole in the ground, wears a grotesque mask on his head, and sounds like a hard to understand Darth Vader.  Bane (Tom Hardy) is a big guy.  One could say he grew up in a rough neighborhood and has been socialized to become the world's, and naturally Gotham's, leading terrorist.  He nonchalantly takes over and disintegrates a CIA aircraft, takes the entire New York Stock Exchange hostage, and oh yeah, gets his hand on a neutron bomb which he hangs over the heads of the woefully unlucky Gotham citizens.  Please Batman, come back to us; but there is no Batman to be found.  Gotham City blames the Batman for Harvey Dent's death and despite the best efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to temper their anger, nobody likes Batman too much.

That is just fine with Alfred (Michael Caine).  He is more than happy to see Batman hang up his repelling hooks and leather body suit.  Besides, he thinks Bruce Wayne can do the world more good than Batman can; especially an older and weathered Batman.  But if it wasn't for those gosh darn meddling kids, Batman probably would have stayed out of this whole mess.  Rookie police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) knows the truth about Bruce Wayne.  How?  Well, you will have to watch the film for that; needless to say, I thought it was quite the stretch how he figures it out.  Blake works for this film's resident jackass, Foley (Matthew Modine), who is angling to take over for an even more weathered Commissioner Gordon.

The Dark Knight Rises is a big film.  I do not necessarily mean that in terms of its budget, its expected box office take, or the IMAX screen I saw it on.  Just like The Dark Knight, its underlying philosophy is big.  The script dives deeper than the ordinary first layer of is he a superhero or a vigilante?  Perhaps Alfred is on to something that what the world needs is another philanthropic billionaire and not a guy hopping around town on his latest crazy gadget.  The gadget this time is a kind of batwing, but is just odd looking and clunky.  Bane also has his own philosophy, but it is more "We are the 99%" taken to the nth degree combined with a dash of mayhem and some spicy nuclear armageddon.  I only understood about 80% of Bane's dialogue.  There are times when he is truly hard to understand.  He voice is amplified by a microphone and I think there is an Irish accent in there.    

This film is a fine capstone to Director Christopher Nolan's trilogy.  It stays away from the campy, make fun of itself side ala Batman Forever and continues the effective choice from the previous film of an incredibly formidable enemy.  Just like Heath Ledger's version of the Joker, Bane is not someone you take lightly.  Batman can mess around with the Riddler and Mr. Freeze, but Bane would eat those two for breakfast.    

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