Saturday, July 21, 2012

"The Dark Knight Rises" seems like typical Nolan


I’m not particularly a comic book fan.  I saw “The Dark Knight Rises” this afternoon at an ETS presentation at AMC Tysons Corner.  All the Imax performances were sold out, but this one was maybe 80% full. The security environment, much discussed by the media since Friday's tragedy in Colorado, was low-key. 
I think Nolan’s worldview (of shifting realities) actually works better when he starts in “this universe” rather than a parallel one (like a comic book franchise).  The style of filmmaking resembles “Inception”, but the “message” isn’t quite as compelling.  What is left is a typically entertaining action film, long, with some good ideas.
  
Nolan uses the same music composer, Hans Zimmer, whose music builds powerful circuits around ground bass themes.  The look of the film is a little darker than “Inception”, and seems much less “real” than even the dream components of the 2010 masterpiece.
  
As Bruce Wayne eight years later, Christian Bale really doesn’t look much worse for wear as he enters early middle age. Still, the characters don’t look as “comic-con” as in other comics movies. The villain, Bane (Tom Hardy) wears a simple mouthpiece that would appear to hide a disfigurement.  (The “Joker” costume does not appear.) 

Michael Caine is still endearing as Alfred, who is supposed to know everything but let others take the glory.  But the sweetheart character is the young cop, Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who had been raised in an orphanage.  At the end, the senior Wayne insists that most of his wealth go to the orphanage rather than just to pass along wealth to family.

A lot is said about the dark violence in action movies like this. The stock exchange attack hardly seems very real, but the implosion of Gotham’s sewer system, which causes a football field to sink (Nolan doesn’t care that the real stadium is in New Jersey, but this is “parallel universe”) is quite original. There is a backstory involving Wayne’s (Batman’s) escape from a dungeon that recalls a similar effect from “The Ring” movies.   He needs some “lesbian upper body strength” to get out, on his own.
  
The script has many “national security” concepts worthy of serious dramatic treatment.  I thought I heard EMP mentioned once.  At the end, Batman and his allies have to prevent a neutron bomb from going off in Gotham (aka New York), and it get shipped out into the ocean, maybe not far enough.
  
At the professional football game, a kid sings the Star Spangled Banner, a cappella, but I was reminded of midshipman Joseph Steffan’s singing it at an Army-Navy game in the 1980s.

Clip about James Holmes and this film, here (ABC News). 

The official site (requires Shockwave) is here

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