The Dark Knight Rises

This one’s for my sister Johnny, who just Facebook chatted me the following message:

“Blog.”

And then after I dug my heels in a little bit, and sent her a picture of my second toe (it’s longer than my big toe, which grosses her out to no end), and explained that I was taking the weekend off, she rather forcefully suggested that I do a review of The Dark Knight Rises.  

Which was nice, because I strongly suspect that no one wants to read another review of that movie, let alone one written by a twenty-one-year-old college student.

I think she knew I probably wanted to write one anyway.

Which I did.

So here it is.  I’m trying to make it as spoiler free as I can, but read with your eyes half closed, just in case.

I want to say, first of all, that my thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Aurora all weekend.  I went to see the movie on Friday night, and it was horrific to think that less than twenty-four hours earlier, the victims of the shooting had been doing the same thing.  I don’t think I can say it better than Christopher Nolan did: “The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”

The Dark Knight Rises in one word: intense.  Not a great word, I know, but the first one I thought of when the credits rolled.  A warning to my fellow sensitive movie watchers: this one can be tough to watch at times.  It’s a fitting finale for the trilogy, I felt, but in order for it to be so, it had to be unflinching and explosive.  And it was.

In what shapes up to be a terrifying parallel to the 9/11 events, the third Batman installment features Gotham gone mad.  Stirred up by an uninhibited force in the underground, and trapped by the threat of nuclear destruction, citizens run rampant, and both government and police are quickly crippled into almost nonexistence.  Bruce Wayne, who has lived as a recluse for the past eight years, must suit up again to face a demon from his past and a city that holds him responsible for the death of white knight Harvey Dent.

It was hard not to miss Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing Joker, but the cast members-some old, some new-were able to carry Nolan’s heavy plot regardless.  Christian Bale was dependable as always, and had a satisfying amount of screen time minus the bat ears.  Michael Caine continued to deliver wry wisdom as loyal butler Albert, and Morgan Freeman, along the same lines, offered a quiet but effective dose of comic relief.  Veteran Gary Oldman, who we’ve all been rooting for from the beginning, finally got a few action scenes.  Newcomers Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard were welcome and successful additions, but it was an earnest Joseph Gordon-Levitt who stole the show for me.  I won’t ruin the ending for you, but let me go down in the books as saying that that possibility has me intrigued.

Batman, as I’ve said before, is my favorite superhero because he’s not super; he has no powers, no fawning admirers, no typically heroic stance.  He’s dark, and he’s conflicted, and he wallows.  He lives in a city filled with sinister crime; a city that doesn’t always appear to deserve saving.  A city that easily turns its back on him.  But in the end, as we all perhaps knew he would, Batman flies off into the sunset with the rest of them, while admiring children, leaning out of a school bus parked on a half-destroyed bridge, cheer him on.

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