July 19, 2012, - 4:22 pm
I have mixed feelings about “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest installment in the Batman movies, which debuts in theaters at Midnight, tonight. Overall, I liked it. I especially loved the ending (and there are sort of two endings). But why did I have to sit in my seat for nearly three hours of repetition and sullenness to get there? The movie clocks in at 164 minutes (2hours and 44 minutes), and it feels like it. At the critics’ screening I attended, a bulb burnt out and we had a brief bathroom break intermission, which this movie badly needs, though not as badly as editing and cutting. Plus, at times, I needed a translator to understand some of the muffled English peppered with a British accent. And that’s not to mention the muddled Occupy Wall Street message, which is at once vilified, but also glorified. (My fellow Detroit movie critic Tom Long calls it, “Occupy Batman.”)
Christian Bale and Gary Oldman are two of my favorite actors, and that makes the movie likeable, as with every movie they grace. And there are other likeable aspects, such as the new addition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a smart beat cop who was raised at a Gotham City orphanage and knows something big and bad is going on when others don’t notice or, worse, dismiss his worries. Also, as much as I usually don’t like her, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (who is never called that in the movie, but wears her leather get-up) is good in this role. Still, the movie was far too long, had too much going on, and was at times very confusing. An hour could have been cut from it, the script tightened, and it would have been much better. And they could have cut out a few characters. There were repetitive scenes: of how sad, brooding, and hermit-like Bruce Wayne had become, of how brutal it became in an underground prison pit where he ends up, and the like. There is also poor attention to detail. Most of Gotham’s cops are trapped in tunnels under the city for more than three months. And yet when they come out there is barely a day’s stubble on their faces. Doesn’t make sense, nor do other plot details.
The story takes place eight years after the last movie (which debuted four years ago). Bruce Wayne (Bale) is now a wounded misanthrope, who lives like a Hermit in the top floor of his mansion. His company is almost broke because it doesn’t make anything anymore, since he’s not there to attend to it. The only thing in which he’s involved is an attempt at clean energy mechanisms, in which a wealthy woman (9/11 Truther Marion Cotillard) has invested. Also, Batman is seen as a bad guy around Gotham and thought of as the murderer of Harvey Dent, because the world doesn’t know the real story of what became of Dent. The demogogic Gotham mayor takes full advantage of this and denounces Batman. But Gotham is calm and doing well because new laws have created law and order.
But, soon, an evil villain, Bane, escapes from custody and, through his strength and power, grows an army of bad guys in the Gotham sewers and tunnels. They take over the stock market and assume control of assets, ultimately obtaining a nuclear bomb from inside Wayne industries, which they use to blackmail all of Gotham into fear. Bane is Occupy Wall Street on steroids and exemplary of the type of terrorist ethos and tactics practiced by the real Occupy crowd. There are some spectacular terrorist explosions he and his men perpetrate in order to instill fear in Gotham. And since Gotham is superhero speak for New York City (and looks exactly like it), it’s kind of scary because it reminds us of the 9/11 attacks and gives pointers on more things the terrorists might do the next time they try. Islamic terrorists would have been more realistic enemies in this movie for that and other reasons. It’s never explained why Bane uses Occupy speak–decrying the wealth being held by a few while the masses go without, and yet, he keeps the power and never gives the wealth to anybody else. What is his motive? Why must Gotham be destroyed in his view? It’s kinda, sorta explained when we learn with whom he is working. But not really. And it seems silly. We’re never really sure why he wants to destroy New York, er . . . Gotham, and its inhabitants, even with the measly “explanation.” Also, Bane (played by Tom Hardy), has his face in a spider-like mask that covers his mouth and nose, but it’s barely explained why. Given his English accent, muffled by the mask, at times, it’s nearly impossible to decipher what he’s saying. English subtitles, please.
Bane draws Bruce Wayne back to the real world and gives him a reason to be Batman again and fight evil. But his strength is puny compared with Bane. How he ultimately overcomes the brutal villain seems hard to be believed as does the way he saves the day toward the end. No, that’s not a spoiler–Batman always saves the day, doesn’t he?
Selina Kyle (Hathaway) is the cat burglar who is supposed to be Catwoman (but again, that name isn’t mentioned in the movie). She steals from the rich because they deserve it and can afford it. There’s your “Occupy” BS again. She comes to the attention of Bruce Wayne because she breaks into his safe, steals his mother’s pearls and also takes his fingerprints for some sort of identity theft scheme, which is ultimately part of Bane’s plot to ruin Batman and Wayne and take over Gotham. She has some female friend, who is never really explained, and appears to be some sort of partner-in-crime galpal/pseudo-lesbian. Or something. And there are a lot of “or somethings” throughout the many confusing plots and subplots. And not in an intriguing way.
Still, Hathaway’s and Gordon-Levitt’s supporting roles are interesting and their acting is good. As is Bale’s and Oldman’s. And that of the old stand-bys, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, as Bruce Wayne’s respective butler and gadget guy. (Cotillard was awful.)
It’s a workmanlike superhero movie and it’s good. But if they’d shortened, tightened, and clarified the movie, it would have been great. The great actors make it good, and the ending is very charming. The special effects are the usual greatness you expect from blockbuster superhero movies. And I liked it much better than “The Avengers” (read my review) and the new “The Amazing Spider-Man” (read my review).
Just make sure to take a bathroom break before the movie. You’ll be sitting there a long time. And, again, I loved the ending. Both of them. The old and the new . . . . Hint, hint.
Watch the trailer . . .
Tags: 9/11 Truther Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Bane, Batman, Batman movie review, Bruce Wayne, cat burglar, Cat Woman, Catwoman, Christian Bale, Dark Knight Rises, Dark Knight Rises movie review, Gary Oldman, Gotham, Harvey Dent, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, new Batman movie, New York, New York City, Occupy, Occupy Batman, Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Selina Kyle, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Rises movie review, Tom Hardy, Tom Long