The Dark Knight Rises

MoviesEntertainmentChristopher NolanTom HardyThe Godfather (movie)Joseph Gordon-LevittGary Oldman

Usually bands have problems when it comes to the third albums. They have enough material from years of playing the small dingy clubs, and that fills up those first two CDs. On the third disc, they’re in the studio trying to write new material and it doesn’t always work.

When it comes to movies, third ones usually don’t work for different reasons. Often times it’s because you have a classic movie you’re trying to capitalize on. The Godfather was the rare exception that had a second that was as good or better (and it gets the distinction of having two different actors win the Oscar for playing the same character, as well as a rare sequel to win Best Picture).

If you’re making a third movie from a film like Toy Story, it works because we like the characters and each film is different. Batman falls into this category (I’m talking about the Christopher Nolan trilogy, not any of the films with Michael Keaton or George Clooney as the Caped Crusader).

Many people are going to say this is the best of the three. It’s actually the worst (for lack of a better word). This film introduces too many characters, and takes way too long to get going. At two hours and 45 minutes, you find there are moments you’re actually bored. Now, those last 45 minutes are very exhilarating and make the movie worth seeing.

Two things about the movie I found bizarre. One was that there were death threats to critics that gave this movie a bad review or gave away key plot points. I can’t say I fault people on the latter. It’s really not hard to write a review warning people if you’ve going to spoil anything.

But seriously, batfans…calm down! Comic Con ended a few days ago. You should still be basking in the glow of that event.

Rush Limbaugh was talking about the villain – Bane – being named after some company Mitt Romney worked for. This is idiotic on a few levels. The character is from the comic books, so there’s that. Also, I’m guessing if Herman Cain was running, they’d say it was a play on that name because it rhymed.

Now, if Rush wanted to talk about the dig director Nolan (and his brother, who co-wrote the script), take at the rich and Wall Street crowd, okay.

Anyway, Bane is an amazingly menacing villain. I loved actor Tom Hardy since he first played a badass in Bronson years ago and he was a pleasant surprise in Warrior.

Nolan brought him and two of his other Inception cast members into this (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard).

I already saw that critic Roger Ebert didn’t care for Bane or the thing he wore over his face. I loved it. It was so Hannibal Lectoresque.

Now, if they would’ve made his dialogue a bit easier to understand. And for that matter, other aspects of the dialogue were hard to hear. This complaint has been voiced by many at the various screenings I talked with.

Things weren’t helped by the loud, percussion driven score by the usually welcome Hans Zimmer.

Anne Hathaway plays a very sexy Catwoman. She’s never called that, only a “cat burglar.” She looked sexy hunched over the cool motorcycle. That got me wondering if Sean Young is watching this from rehab and wishing she would’ve crashed the auditions on a Harley.

I don’t want to give away a lot of the plot (apparently David Letterman got into trouble for that, which I suspect was a bit). I can tell you that Bane wants to set off a nuclear bomb, and goes all Black Sunday at a football game. Gary Oldman is trying to stop him, and Morgan Freeman comes up with some fun devices for Batman to use. And when he’s showing him these things, it was one of many times during the movie I thought of James Bond. After such a spectacular opening scene and a few of the fights, it just felt more like a Bond film than a comic book movie. I also thought the fact that it was so dark and not very humorous – that took away from the comic book vibe as well (although the quote you hear so often is that the comic books are so much darker than the movies usually are).

There were some plot holes and flaws in logic, but in super hero movies we’re expected to let that slide.

The other cast member I’d like to point out is former Chula Vista resident Matthew Modine. Having grown up watching his many movies (Birdy, Vision Quest), it’s nice to see him with a decent role again. And a weird movie fun fact: He once played Joker. Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket. He was also in a movie opposite Catwoman. Michelle Pfeiffer, in Married to the Mob.

Now, back to the plot of the movie without giving anything away; Bruce Wayne turns into a Howard Hughes type of recluse, walking with a limp and a body that shows wear-and-tear from all the crime fighting. I enjoyed how the movie shows the toll this would take on a “regular” guy, both mentally and physically.

Michael Caine constantly bugs him to retire, Catwoman steals jewelry (and other things) from him, and Gotham may soon be running amok with criminals.

The special effects are well done and there are some spectacular action sequences. The film is also very well shot in Imax.

I’m glad it took the bad taste of the not-so-amazing Spiderman out of my mouth.

I hate to admit that I even shed a tear at the end.

This is a fine conclusion to the Nolan/Bale trilogy of Batman films, and good luck to whatever schnook tries to reboot this series in 10 years.

I’m giving it 3 1/2 stars out of 5.




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