The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Last night at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, a 24-year old man wearing a gas mask walked into Theater 9, in Aurora, Colorado, tossed smoke bombs and opened fired on the patrons. At least 12 people were killed and several others injured. I don’t believe bleak films like The Dark Knight Rises inspire people to kill others, but I sometimes wonder if film makers are pushing the limit. Perhaps Batman is best viewed as a graphic novel.

While watching the show at a midnight marquee several hundred miles away in Michigan, I watched the film uncomfortably surrounded by obnoxious, rude and unfunny teens. I don’t like crowded places. I prefer to watch films in the afternoon (the earlier the better) to avoid packed houses. Watching the film, I was perplexed, not exactly knowing what I was seeing —was this a super hero film, gritty and violent urban crime drama, or political commentary? Christopher Nolan’s final installment of the Batman legend is a vile film populated with confusing characters and unmoving leads in Batman (Christian Bale) and nemesis Bane (played by Tom Hardy). Even Anne Hathaway’s much publicized Catwoman (she looks good on a Bat-cycle) seems detached from her character. Folks expecting to see a witty, funny and action-packed film like The Avengers will be disappointed. The Dark Knight Rises has too many flaws for it to endure as a classic of the genre.

  • Flaw Number 1: I couldn’t understand what Bane was saying. It’s very important that the masked villain be intelligible. Remember Darth Vader? He too had a breathing apparatus (if that is what is indeed positioned on Bane’s face and head), but we could understand him.
  • Flaw Number 2: Bane’s breathing apparatus *SPOILER* Yes, I too figured that Batman was gonna pummel that thing.
  • Flaw Number 3: Christian Bale obviously wanted to end this trilogy. Perhaps he was method acting. For what it’s worth, his Batman isn’t very interesting. For that matter, neither was Bane.
  • Flaw Number 4: Too many characters. Why is Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul needed for this story? Why does Catwoman need a lesbian plaything/pupil? Why is Matthew Modine needed as a Gordon’s subordinate?
  • Flaw Number 5: The secret to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is we actually like Hannibal Lecter. We knew what he was about. Nolan/Hardy never fully reveals Bane’s motivation. Does he seek social upheaval? What’s this guy about?
  • Flaw Number 6: Why doesn’t batman use his utility belt on Bane? He’s not very smart. *SPOILER* Catwoman just blasts the guy away.

Perhaps I am too negative. The Dark Knight is well-constructed and ties up the loose ends. The opening action sequence is a humdinger. I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the impressionable Officer Blake. His character evolves into a surprise. Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman return and they are always solid. I even enjoyed the cameo appearance by Cillian Murphy (as the Scarecrow/Judge).

If only Nolan had trimmed out 5 characters, changed Bane’s head-gear to better reveal his face, had competent sound people (Hardy sounded plenty articulate in Inception), and fleshed out Bane’s character a bit more…

Batman **, Catwoman **1/2, Bane *, Supporting Cast ***, Action ***, Cinematography ***, Story so so **. I donno. I’d give this film **1/2 out of ****.

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