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Dark Knight Supreme.
on August 7, 2014
The Dark Knight Rises is excellent movie making. Make no mistake while this is an outstanding superhero genre film…it “rises” (pun intended) to become so much more. Like its predecessor 2008’s “The Dark Knight”…this is an Oscar worthy masterpiece. While the Marvel/Disney juggernaut has the market cornered on Superhero films, in particular the linking of storylines into phases, DC, via the inimitable Chris Nolan has the humanistic, palpable meatier storytelling. Chris Nolan has made a handsome billionaire the subject of the viewer’s sympathy and compassion. He on the surface has it all, wealth, fame and prestige….but this film demonstrates the enormous physical toll such heroics bring. You might admire the Batman/Bruce Wayne, but with all the physical abuse he endures, you would not want to be him.
The film comes at an apt time, when the 1 percent argument is powerfully present. When one has a lot, one can occasionally have a lot to lose. Conversely, it is rather foolish to think that so few can have so much without any form of social outcry. Enter Bane, Batman’s nemesis, played with utter brilliance and demonic panache by Tom Hardy. He too is one to watch, if only for his physical transformations (see Bronson and Rock N Rolla). It is hard to believe this GQ looking fellow could become the physical monster that is Bane. His performance is made all the more formidable when one considers his face is nearly completely covered except for his eyes, through which he conveys everthing from contempt to humor and enraged fury. Though some have mocked his “Conneryesque” accent/speech affecation, I would offer that is merely adds to his mystique and larger than life character. Nothing about this character is low key. He is first and foremost a terrorist and as such terrorizes, though many I spoke with found the stock exchange blow out strangely satisfying. His revolutionary entrance is only part of his story, however, as his history and an old Batman foe’s are inextricably linked.
Only Chris Nolan (along with brother Jonathan) could produce such a strong social commentary of the haves and have nots cloaked (again pun intended) in a superhero film. I haven’t mentioned Bale as honestly he is so damn incredible in every performance since “Empire of Sun”, his earliest performance. Though not yet 40, Christian Bale has such a diverse acting portfolio that he is hard to pin down or typecast. He is however, to this date and beyond, the best depiction of Batman, surpassing earlier efforts by Tim Burton which were great in their own regard. Bale is simply effortless in his performances. His fellow English compatriot, Gary Oldman (mind numbingly denied an Oscar after numerous noms) is Jim Gordon. No one else can fill his shoes. His depiction too is poured from the pages of the comics. Anne Hathaway is probably the most solid Catwoman thus far, bringing a smouldering sensuality and intelligence not before brought to this character. She is the veritable yin to Batman’s Yang, rival, enemy and ultimately ally…….Marion Cotillard, previously seen in Nolan’s mind bending “Inception”, ably plays the mysterious Victoria Tate with seductive aplomb. When Michael Caine was initially suggested as Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s long-suffering butler, medic and father-figure, I didn’t see it. I am now a convert and see no one else in the role. Equally solid is Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Wayne Enterprises CEO and tech provider to the Dark Knight. His wry humor and wit prevent this role from becoming a cookie cutter support role. It is interesting to note that there are 4 Oscar winners for acting in this film, yet another mark of quality. Nolan freely surrounds himself with talent and it shows.
My wife and I have seen “Dark Knight Rises” 3 times in the theater, no mean feat considering the present economy, and have seen it countless times on DVD since. ıt is the veritable capper of the other two efforts. I would offer that it is every bit as good as “The Dark Knight” forever linked with everyone’s consciousness with Heath Ledger’s fantastically manic and unfortunately final performance. “The Dark Knight Rises” is solid, powerful and ultimately satisfying. Anyone taking over the franchise has their work cut out for them. I await with bated breath to see what Nolan can do as producer, creative force with “Man of Steel”, because if he can do for Superman what he did for Batman…..Marvel studios just might have something to worry about.