August 05, 2012

MOVIES: The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012)

Well, let's start with the good things about The Dark Knight Rises. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though he isn't given anything interesting to do as a young Gotham police detective, is professional and competent, and doesn't embarrass himself; and Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle (never specifically called "Catwoman" in the movie), is charming, with a light grace and ease that the movie could use more of.



Let me think...

Nope, that's about it. The rest of the movie is pretty damned boring. The problems start with something as simple as voices. Christian Bale's Batman voice still sounds as if Bruce Wayne is a nervous 19-year-old putting on what he thinks is a real man's voice. And while Marion Cotillard's English has gotten good enough that you can understand the words, she still has a tendenCY to put the emPHAsis on all THE wrong sylLABles.

And then there's Tom Hardy's villain, Bane, who speaks through a mask in an electronically altered rasp that is frequently incomprehensible, and for whatever reason, it gets worse whenever the dialogue is at its most expository and you really need to understand him. (And physically, Hardy is so freakishly bulked up that he barely looks human anymore.)

The movie plods along for more than 2 1/2 hours, and could easily be pruned down to under 2; the biggest time-waster is a long sequence involving Bruce Wayne trying (over and over and over) to escape from an underground desert prison.

Not only is the story padded to ridiculous length, it's also a seriously conservative political statement. Bane's rhetoric (and Selina's, in the early going, before she abruptly switches to being Batman's ally) is very much inspired by the Occupy movement, with lots of talk about how the little people need to fight back against the oppression of the wealthy, and a violent attack on the Gotham Stock Exchange.

The movie argues that the end result of the Occupy movement is violent anarchy from which we can only be saved by the generous actions of the wealthy, here represented by billionaire Bruce Wayne/Batman. Everyone who claims to care about the future of the little guy, or of the planet, turns out to be a villain; the wealthy are their innocent victims.

Even technical things that the earlier movies in the series got right don't work here; Hans Zimmer's score is a loud percussive assault, and the movie is ugly to look at, with fight scenes that are impossible to follow.

Sad way to bring the Nolan/Bale Batman era to an end. Maybe at least the spinoff movies that are painstakingly set up in the final act will be an improvement.

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