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The Dark Knight Rises

The 2012 film directed by Christopher Nolan based on the DC Comics character

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Dark day after night

  • Jul 22, 2012
I don't know I've ever started a review with a more conflicted mind or heavy heart.  This movie will be forever linked to the killings associated with one showing of its midnight opening in a Colorado theater.  No viewer or reviewer can see the film without that fact in mind.  When I saw the movie today a day after the opening and after the news had consumed the internet, I confess that it affected my experience of the movie more than I expected.  The scene in the movie where head bad guy Bane and his team force their way into a crowded stock exchange floor and randomly kill traders was particularly disturbing in light of the event. 

To keep the event in focus:  millions of people saw the movie on thousands of screens around the world without taking weapons and killing.  The movie did not make this one disturbed individual do what he did.  However, because he referenced himself as the Joker after being captured, it is clear that he was influenced by this specific film series.  What I find most disturbing about this particular serial killer is that unlike most he did not kill himself or force police to kill him.  He chose to be taken alive, as if he specifically wanted to see what impact he had on the movie and movie-goers. 

All of which is a dark tribute to the power and depth of the film-making here.  In the second and third movies of the trilogy, director Christopher Nolan deals with real issues of police power, politics, crime, democracy, wealth, and morals in serious ways that make these much more than simple action, adventure, or superhero entertainments that usually populate the summer blockbuster movie screens.  In Rises, The Batman returns to a Gotham City blessed with eight years of freedom from mob criminals thanks to a powerful legal weapon and a large professional police force to give it feet.  But the equilibrium seems an edgy and fragile one, and when bad-guy Bane rises (literally) from the sewer to bring his own brand of revolution and freedom from repression, the tipping point comes quickly.  And while billionaire Bruce Wayne and other upper-class rich people are called to account for failing to fight for justice in this society, this is not a simple class-war "get the rich" story.  Bane himself is no political philosopher, even though he mouths the classic Marxist calls for workers to rise up and take back their due; indeed, like the historical Russian revolution, the uprising in Dark Knight quickly becomes a dictatorship of the proletariat. 

As a movie entertainment (lest we go to far into tragic news and political theorizing) I give Dark Knight +3 stars.  While satisfying, thoughtful, well made, and well acted, the movie seems overlong and overplotted.  There is some movie fun here, but it gets lost during stretches by the length and complexity of the plot, and (even though I hate to go back there again) by the event that marred the midnight opening.  My vote for best line in the movie goes to The Batman who turns back to Cat Woman in the middle of a scene and finding that she has abruptly disappeared.  Looking about quizzically, he finally response "So that's what that feels like", in reference to his own propensity for spontaneous disappearance. 

Speaking of Cat Woman, Ann Hathaway is a strong addition to the cast, as is Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Indeed, for a couple of substantial stretches while The Batman is in hiding or otherwise indisposed, and Police Commissioner Gordon (the always excellent Gary Oldman), Gordon-Levitt carries the full weight of the force for good in the movie, both physically and morally.  Hathaway is morally compromised by her occupation as a jewel thieve, but has the acting ability to carry both the action sequences and the inner conflict between her desire for self-preservation and her pull toward service of the greater good.

The ending has been much anticipated and debated, and while there is a twist to the ending, it wasn't as surprising to me as the surprise character who masterminded the events in Gotham City.  Nolan has said he has closed his involvement in the Dark Knight franchise, but of course the door is always remains open for a future reboot with new actors, writers, and directors.

For today, we have this.  Nolan has created, with the help of powerful writers and actors, a series that transcends the superhero genre, and gives real power and respectability to the graphic-novel-movie genre.  Fans will always be able to enjoy the action, tension, humor, politics, and movie-making magic of The Dark Knight.   

Except for twelve from Aurora, Colorado. 

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July 22, 2012
yep, the script was dangerously overcooked but thankfully it wasn't too dry because of the action direction, production values and the acting. Good personal touch on the review, including what you felt about that tragedy in Colorado.
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review by . July 25, 2012
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review by . July 19, 2012
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review by . July 26, 2012
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review by . July 24, 2012
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review by . July 21, 2012
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review by . July 21, 2012
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review by . July 26, 2012
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About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #65
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this movie


Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy,

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

The screenplay is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
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Director: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Release Date: July 20, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, Syncopy Films, Legendary Pictures
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