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Wednesday, August 01, 2012  

M. Ovie Reviews: The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises is largely the story of a siege and an occupation. Namely, the takeover of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise by the supporting cast of Inception. Here are Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon Leavitt, Michael Caine, Marion Cotillard, and even Cillian Murphy. One suspects that Nolan wanted Ellen Page to be the Catwoman but the studio wouldn't let him cast her.

Which is amazing, because in a cast this size there seems to be room for everyone, including the return of Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Batman's Q, Nestor Carbonell as Mayor Guyliner, and even Liam Neeson as Bruce Wayne's former mentor (you'll recall that I confessed to not having seen Batman Begins in my review of The Amazing Spider-Man, and that hasn't changed). Plus there's Matthew Modine (somehow caught in the middle of a bizarre transformation into Treat Williams), Tom Conti, and so many other bit parts that the only way the audience could keep them all straight is if they were a gallery of grotesques (which, not to worry).

With so many characters teeming about, even on the giant playing field of Gotham (which has somehow been relocated from Chicago to Manhattan in the years since The Dark Knight, for reasons I speculate have to do with The Riddler), one wonders how there’s even room for the protagonist at all, let alone his two identities. This issue is addressed twofold: one, nearly everyone in the picture knows who he is anyway (or they learn by the end), and two, he spends the whole second act out of action, undergoing an arduous physical and spiritual quest to prepare himself for the final battle, much like Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, but for actual months this time. And that's after he stops being a decrepit recluse nobody’s seen in eight years.

In addition to all the characters, there are a lot of themes, not all of which I’m entirely comfortable with. Like how Bane and his reign of terror could be construed as Occupy Wall Street taken to its logical conclusion. If, you know, OWS were a remotely violent organization with the inclination, let alone the resources, to convert the very concrete under our feet into a bomb.

Getting back to Tom Hardy, it's a mystery to me why he was even cast. Bane could have been played by anyone. Hardy's totally unrecognizable under a mask, shaven skull, Mad Max apparel, and imposing bulk, not to mention that notorious voice that sounds like Leon Redbone auditioning for The Philadelphia Story over a speakerphone. Obviously the voice is distracting and nigh-unintelligible, but I think Hardy and Nolan came up with it to take the heat off Bale's Batman voice. Given that Batman even whispers in private conversations with people who know both his names, I can only assume the cowl's too tight around the throat. But the best voice in the movie belongs to Catwoman, and it gets to say all the best lines, usually right after she's dropped a wide-eyed, innocent act that works pretty well given Anne Hathaway's, you know, wide eyes.

As much as I make fun, I liked it quite a bit, but I have to admit I’m kind of glad it’s over. On the other hand, there was a trailer for next year’s Nolan-produced, Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel, whose portentous tone looks thematically heavy in a similar way. Here we go again.

posted by M. Giant 2:47 PM 1 comments


heh...Mayor Guyliner...so true!

By Blogger jlhpisces, at August 2, 2012 at 11:55 AM  

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