Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012). Director: Christopher Nolan.

"You're not living. You're just waiting -- waiting for things to go bad again."

This is the sequel to The Dark Knight and the third in a trilogy of films made by Christopher Nolan about Batman, and probably the worst of the three. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) has been laying low since the events of The Dark Knight but has to come out of retirement to take on the threat of Bane (Tom Hardy), a grotesque killer that he thinks is the son of old enemy Ras Al Ghul. Bane not only manages to kidnap and imprison Batman in a hole called the Pit, but takes over Manhattan Island -- uh, I mean Gotham -- and holds everyone hostage with a nuclear bomb that is going to go off eventually whether he detonates it or not. [This leads to a mini-revolution that makes Occupy Wall Street look like a walk in the park.] This a perfectly workable plot and this might have amounted to a thrilling movie if Nolan was content to make a satisfying and exciting action film with good characterizations and acting [which this has for the most part]. Instead Nolan drags his meandering movie out for nearly three hours, has lots and lots of talking and brooding, and fails to craft one single memorable set piece throughout the entire movie -- yes, there is not one really memorable sequence. The Dark Knight, which started out very badly, eventually became compelling and entertaining, but The Dark Knight Rises never really amounts to much despite all the busyness and the pretentious stabs at profundity. Even the Batman comic books have had more meaningful stories than this. Worse, The Dark Knight Rises isn't especially well directed, edited or photographed, and at times you get the impression that the music [Hans Zimmer], as is often the case, is doing most of the work [at keeping the audience awake, for one thing], although even the score is nothing special.

There are some good things, however. There is an unexpected development late in the picture regarding one of the characters which I found to be a genuine surprise [and which I should have seen coming]. The acting is quite good, with Bale making an effective caped crusader, and Michael Caine a strong and sympathetic Alfred. I don't know what to make of the weird voice Tom Hardy uses in his turn as Bane [which could be his normal voice, of course] but it doesn't seem to suit the character. Anne Hathaway is good as Selina Kyle [never referred to as the Catwoman, although that's who she is], although her character is pretty unlikable, and Marion Cotillard [Nine] really scores as Miranda, who is involved in Wayne industries and dallies with Brucie Boy in the bedroom. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fine as the cop, Blake, who sort of functions as an uncostumed Robin, and there are satisfactory turns from Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Modine, and others.

Verdict: Pick up a good Batman comic book instead. **.

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