Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I want to begin by saying that it is incredibly hard to write an adequate review of this movie without including spoilers.  While I normally try to provide a spoiler-free reading for those that are on the fence I have to apologize that some of the plot is going to have to come out.
This movie represents the final chapter in the Dark Knight Trilogy directed by Nolan.  It began with the origin story and pitted Batman against his standard rival of The Joker.  In part two we saw Batman fall into disgrace and despair as a hunted vigilante.  And here in three we see his rise and redemption.

The main players reprise their roles.  Bale comes back as Bruce Wayne, Cain as the ever loyal Alfred, Freedman as Fox, and Oldman as Commissioner Gordon.  Simply all of them are spot on in their performances and provide exactly what they brought to the previous films.  It is a little sad that this has been declared that Bale has hung up the cape and cowl with this movie as I do think his Bruce Wayne/ Batman is as solid a pairing as the Batman movies have seen since Micheal Keaton began the modern era of Batman movies.

I also am a huge fan of Micheal Caine and believe that anything he touches is golden.  He ~is~ Alfred and honestly I have a hard time with too many other actors trying to take on that part.

New to this film are Anne Hathaway and Jason Gordon-Levitt, both of whom turned in excellent showings.  I remember Gordon-Levitt from his days on 3rd Rock as the geeky teen, and seeing him go from that to the hard nosed cop from Brooklyn was an impressive leap for me.  He continues to impress.

And at the same time, his part in this movie was right on as the young but aware cop who knows that evil has to be stopped.  He never quit believing in the Batman and he always kept up the fight.

Hathaway was one I was worried about going in.  She seemed a departure from the usual Catwomans we've seen in the past, but my fear was totally unfounded.  Of course, she also did a great job as Agent 99 in Get Smart so perhaps Catwoman wasn't as much of a stretch.

This installment sees the rise of Bane and another round of taking all of Gotham hostage.  Being totally fair, there is a question of plausibility seeing how often Gotham has been taken over by some gang of thugs and had nuclear bombs set up, fire bombs thrown, etc.

If you accept that once again the city can be put under siege again, then what you get is a nice flow of events and twists and social commentary.  Bane wants to return the city "To the people" and you get to see what happens when the mobs take over.  

I have heard that this movie is somewhere between Occupy Wall Street fantasy, and cautionary tale. There are elements of the French Revolution and related imagery, as well as a certain "eat the rich" kind of imagery.  I don't think that it treats either "Side" too well.  The rich are shown to be decadent, and the unwashed masses to be uncontrollable without law and order forcing them to behave.

As such the movie proves to be evocative and engaging.  There is a lot of conversation to be born from it and I do think, like a great deal of literature, it is both an examination of our times and forces us to engage that examination to see what we believe to be valid and invalid points.

As someone who is familiar with a lot of the Batman stories in a general abstract sense, it was also interesting to see which continuity they were going to follow.  Several times I thought "oh... they're going to do ~that~ here" only to find out they went another way.  

Overall this was the perfect end to the trilogy, making a series of movies that rose, fell, and rose again to a new height.  I do not like that it seems movie #2 is becoming the "downer movie" so that the third is the true finale, but I can live with it if it means we get more like this.

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