Sunday, July 22, 2012

Episode 1399: The Dark Knight Rises

Went to see The Dark Knight Rises with Phil. Let me start off by saying that I think this is an excellent film to cap off the trilogy with, and as we've seen from previous film trilogies, it's not always easy to finish well. I've enjoyed Christopher Nolan's darker take on the Batman franchise, and it's definitely a bleak vision of humanity that is being presented here. I think it's fair to say that superhero films always tend to be some form of moral allegory. If that scene in The Amazing Spider-Man of the cranes swinging into alignment across the city showed human behaviour at its best and noblest, The Dark Knight Rises repeatedly shows us the opposite. When Bane incites the citizens of Gotham to take back their city, now that the police are trapped underground, they react by seizing the rich and privileged. (Personally, I don't concur with critics who read this story arc as Nolan indicting the Occupy Wall Street movement. That's too reductive for a film of such complexity.) I'm oversimplifying things a little, but the fact remains that given the opportunity to behave badly without fear of reprisal, that's exactly what they did. Towards the end, there's a scene where Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character pleads with a fellow cop (hello, Desmond Harrington!) to let a bus-load of orphans cross the bridge out of Gotham, and the other cop simply refuses to budge, going so far as to blow up the bridge. It's a moment that's heartbreakingly ugly in what it says about humanity. On the other hand, all the protagonists are designed to show us that true heroism comes from choosing to stand in the gap, even when no one else will, and I think it's incredibly important that for all his gizmos, Bruce Wayne is still just a human being, not some superpowered guy. (Ditto for Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle, who steals every scene she is in, and Gordon-Levitt's John Blake, who turns out to be Robin.) My only complaints have to do with some plot twists, especially the one involving Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate, which I didn't think were strictly necessary. (This one was actually brilliant, but I felt its inclusion was a sign of the film overplaying its hand, given that the storytelling up to that point had already been densely layered.) Also, some of Christian Bale's dialogue was just awful. I don't come to a superhero film expecting Shakespeare, but there were some real clunkers that Bale had to deliver.

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