Reviewed by: Scott Brennan
Is it right to take from the rich and give to the poor?
The villain Bane claims he is a necessary evil, providing a reckoning for Gotham.
What do you think of the comment that if you want to save the world, you have to trust the world?
escalation between criminals and police
bravery, courage, self-sacrifice
Tom Hardy … Bane
Liam Neeson … Ra’s Al Ghul
Christian Bale … Bruce Wayne/Batman
Anne Hathaway … Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Joseph Gordon-Levitt … John Blake
Gary Oldman … Jim Gordon
Juno Temple … Holly Robinson
Morgan Freeman … Lucius Fox
Marion Cotillard … Miranda Tate
Aidan Gillen … CIA Agent
Michael Caine … Alfred
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Warner Bros. Pictures
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|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“The legend ends”
July 20, 2012—A dark night did arise. The sadness felt by this reviewer for the families and loved ones of those killed or wounded in the deadly shootings early this morning upon the release of this film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado—is not measurable. But surely, the thoughts and prayers of thousands are with them during this difficult time. This violent rampage perpetrated by a deranged 24 year old—allegedly acting as “the Joker” in the spirit of the villain by the same name in the second film of this trilogy by writer/director Christopher Nolan—will certainly be touted as support for the “watching violence—produces violence” argument. Unfortunately, that debate will probably only create more discord, not less. However, no matter what side of the argument anyone is on, a tragedy has taken place, and prayers are needed for all involved, especially from those who frequent this Web site and claim to follow the Christ of the Bible.
It is difficult to write a review in light of this calamity. But in full disclosure, I saw the film today, before I learned of the events that occurred just after midnight last night—at the opening of the film in Colorado—so my overall reaction to the film, and the notes that I took are prior to having heard of the human catastrophe—which I did—after leaving the theater this morning. Not surprisingly, as you will read below, some of my comments had already alluded to my concerns about the excessive violence in the movie—questioning the rating system of the industry, as I have done a number of times before in the reviews I have submitted for this Web site.
One goal of the director (Christopher Nolan) in the first film, “Batman Begins” (2005) was to create a sense of “FEAR,” pure and unadulterated, grounding the film in its more original storyline. It was in that story that a child had witnessed his parents’ senseless murder, creating young Bruce Wayne’s need to “right the wrongs” which set the tone for overcoming that all pervasive fear. The second in the trilogy, “The Dark Knight” (2008) was designed to generate a palpable sense of “CHAOS” through a deranged fiend portrayed particularly well by the late Heath Ledger in his final performance as “the Joker” before exiting this world’s stage in his own real life tragedy. Finally, the raw emotion to be felt in this—the final story in Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) is obvious within the first few minutes of the nearly 3 hour film, “PAIN.” The entire film is a barrage of sequential vignettes, each more painful than the one before it—at times excruciating to watch. The last time I can recall seeing so many violent acts affect my psyche this way was during “The Terminator” series back in the 1990’s—which, in retrospect, seem almost tame compared to this film.
None of this is written to detract from the obvious talent that Nolan has in creating stand-out films. His recent success with the film “Inception”—an overly complicated plot—some complained—reached new heights as to what’s possible when it comes to merging special effects with what gets written on the human heart in terms of pure emotion. “A dream within a dream”, were just words without a picture, until Christopher Nolan came along. And, to his credit, he waited for the perfect script before embarking on this third film—in his opinion—to complete the trilogy, not wanting to merely press the “cash cow” for the sake of being the second man in Hollywood to have directed all three super hero films in a franchise of this magnitude. (The first was Sam Raimi for the Spider-Man trilogy.) Fearing he would be bored halfway through production if he found he had a film he deemed unnecessary, he looked for the right script. That screenplay finally emerged from his own creative energy—once again with the help of his brother Jonathan, to complete “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Undoubtedly, many moviegoers will be attracted to this film simply by the name recognition of the cast: Christian Bale (Batman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Cat Burglar), Michael Caine (Alfred), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Liam Neeson (Ra’s al Ghul/Henri Ducard), Matthew Modine (Deputy Foley), all of whom portray their roles with convincing style, not too over-the-top, but with a slightly dark hue, in a DC Comic-come-to-life-sort of way. For the diehard fans that will see this film no matter what negative light I shed on it, they probably won’t be disappointed. The Hans Zimmer music is rich, textured, and paced what should have been an unbearably long film—to seem like only two hours instead of three.
Finally, the script was artfully written, and there are few (if any, at all) unanswered questions—due to one of the more tightly sewn up final acts in recent memory. (No jacks left spinning in the final scene.) And even where the viewer had to suspend disbelief for a ridiculous amount of time—for feats beyond capability—even for these humans—Nolan was able to nuance the scenes with both subtle and stark reminders that this is only a comic book come to life, albeit a serious one.
This final chapter of Nolan’s trilogy integrates plot elements and events from the first two films in a way that suggests years of planning. Fear brings revenge, which breeds new villains creating chaos, which leads to the death of a lover, years of reclusive living until—at long last—the agonizing pain of Bruce Wayne, both internal and external, forces Batman out from hiding one final time. The conclusion is not forgone, and the twists in the plot define suspense in the truest sense of the word.
My comments here are mostly about the violence. And I don’t just pick on Christopher Nolan here. I believe the industry went over the brink years ago and, sadly, has created an appetite in the “world audience” for more and more violence to be realized on film—just for the sake of the violence itself. Nolan might argue that he needed it for his goals and to fulfill his storyline of “PAIN,” but I would counter that much more could have been implied rather than shown—although to his credit—it could have been much worse. It is not bloody or overly graphic like a “B” slasher-film, but the depth of the darkness and pain is deep—in a terrifying way—far too much for children, in this reviewer’s opinion. The crashes, the shootings, the bombs and the implied deaths are intense and repetitive—even a live football team on the field is swallowed up in an explosion in front of thousands. How they obtained a PG-13 is past my understanding.
In addition, there are the usual cleavage shots, a tight Cat Woman outfit and some scenes with Christian Bale without his shirt. One of them is when he has just finished having sex (implied one night stand) with Miranda (Marion Cotillard)—something seemingly out of character for a billionaire who spent half his fortune trying to save Gotham from the sins and evils that plagued it—be they small or great. There are other kissing scenes, including others with Batman, which also reflect on the moral character of all those involved. There is some light drinking throughout the film, along with some light obscenities which included 2 uses of “son of a bit_h”, 7 hells, and 3 damns (amounting to about 4 obscenities per hour) and a couple of profane uses of the name Jesus—moderate compared to most films today.
While I won’t reveal the ending, and I will acknowledge that the character of another protagonist—played by a subordinate street cop (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is very refreshing to the story; I still believe that, overall, it isn’t enough to give this film a recommendation. Even the redemptive nature of Batman’s willingness to give all for the sake of his love for Gotham, like God giving his all by sending his Son, isn’t enough to resurrect this plot… mired in the miasma of relativism. For this reviewer, the world of Bruce Wayne, with his personal angst, his inner demons, and the way he overcomes them, leaves one feeling like he does it all on his own—with his own inner moral compass—one we can’t see, but are asked to believe is true and just.
At the end of the day, my heart goes out to parents raising children in our world today. The nature of the “imitative behavior potential,” due to a diet of films and video games streaming excessive violence 24/7, must be difficult to combat, and, no doubt, it cannot be good for the human race. Common sense says so. Of course, most children and adults won’t take such actions in real life, but there are always those few that do. And they stand out with tragic results—whether it’s the death of 7 year old Heaven Sutton this past Wednesday, July 18th, 2012, with Chicago’s 251st homicide since January of this year (in a city with strict gun control) or the violent shootings in Aurora last night. One can only wonder how much the perpetrators may have been influenced by what they had seen and heard over their lifetimes. Just ask any cereal company or Madison Avenue about the power of suggestion. Repetition pays dividends. We will reap what we sow.
Watching “The Dark Knight Rises” is a perilous descent into a maelstrom to catch the few rays of light that might be found there—too dangerous for children or immature teens. Enter at your own risk is my final word.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate—“Jesus” (2), possible G-damn / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
Reviews of other Batman movies
Prequel: “Batman Begins” (2005)
Prequel: “The Dark Knight” (2008)
“Batman and Robin” (1997)
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.