Movie Review — The Dark Knight Rises

by Ryan on July 20, 2012

in Anything Else,Culture,Election 2012,Media Bias,Politics,Pop Culture,Social Agitators

The most anticipated movie of the summer, The Dark Knight Rises, officially came out today and I had to see it.  This movie already had some political, as well as online, controversy surrounding it.  That was, of course, even before last night’s shooting. Here’s the trailer:

Four summers ago, after viewing The Dark Knight, I asked a friend with whom I had seen it, “How can they make a part 3?  There’s no way any sequel can live up to that.”  The second installment of Christopher Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight series was the most solid comic movie I have ever seen and a superb morality tale and allegory about the War on Terror.  Add to that the cultural impact of Heath Ledger’s perfect “Joker” performance on screen six months after his death and there’s no touching that movie.

So, going into the trilogy’s final installment I needed to tone down my expectations. Would Nolan make a film which lived up to the allegory, relevance, and action of 2008s The Dark Knight?

He tried, but The Dark Knight left quite a shadow on its sequel.

MILD SPOILER ALERT:  read on only if you don’t mind a few plot details.

The Dark Knight Rises has all the action, plot development, and surprises one might expect from this trilogy, but there’s something missing.  While having a few plot holes, which can be forgiven on first viewing, the movie seems to lack focus and the energy of the previous films.  That’s not to say the film wasn’t really good.  It also becomes obvious that the left using “Bain/Bane” against Romney makes no sense — millions of people will see that this weekend.

If Batman was an allegorical version of George W. Bush in part 2, then Batman’s foe Bane is made-to-order Occupy Wall Street wish-fulfillment.  Using the very system he detests, Bane sets out to complete the task set forth by Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins to destroy Gotham financially, then literally.  Once broken, cut off from the world, and threatened with a WMD, Gotham is poised for trouble, especially when Batman is neutralized and the city has gotten complacent from so many years of relative peace.

Nolan’s critique of class warfare is very effective, of how pushing the Atlas-class onto the ice doesn’t keep the shelves stocked.  The class-envy Bane stokes is used to not only steal from Gotham’s wealthy, but to put some of those rich on trial before executing them Bolshevik-style, while the poor celebrate in newly conquered mansions.  Gotham’s underclass is exposed here as equally worthy of annihilation as the wealthy.

Comic books are primarily morality tales.  Allegorically, Batman Begins is about confronting our fears and embracing our abilities, while The Dark Knight asks how far will good people go to defeat evil.  In The Dark Knight Rises, it seems like the central moral question of this film is:  how do the expectations we have for ourselves somehow become the burden of others?  Every character in this film must somehow eventually address that issue.

As a film it’s really good, primarily suffering from not being The Dark Knight.  Nonetheless, The Dark Knight Rises is definitely an A- and the pick of the summer movies thus far.  It’s not as good as part 2 (few movies like this can be), but it is still very well-done and worth a few bucks and a few hours of your time.

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