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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Dark Knight Rises

Finale of a tragedy-stained trilogy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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July 22, 2012 -- The final act of Christopher Nolan's three-part opus about a vigilante in an American city teetering on the brink of chaos proves to be a bit of a letdown, containing nothing close to the brilliance of the late Heath Ledger's performance in the previous film. On the other hand, it doesn't glorify nihilism, chaos and anarchy like the previous film did because it's villains aren't charismatic. Although this film will forever be stained by the tragedy at its premier in Aurora, Colorado, this film had little to do with that mass murder incident.

That atrocity was inspired by the previous film, “The Dark Knight” (for a discussion of this, click on this link to an essay about how The Joker was an inspiration for a mass murderer). One of the murder victims in the Aurora shooting was a six-year-old girl. She should not have been there. This movie isn't appropriate for children.

While the first two films in the trilogy, “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” were not believable for various reasons, the third film has a real nonsense plot with all kinds of ridiculous stuff like a guy throwing his own child into a hell-hole prison for no particular reason, a kind of chiropractor from hell who punches Batman's broken back (with a vertebrae protruding through the skin, no less) with his fist so hard it heals him perfectly. Then you've got an underground shadow army in Gotham city that manages to dig out a big cave under the city's football field, plant explosives on bridges and under streets all over the city without anyone noticing any of this activity. Then you've got the police trapped underground for a long time. The police cannot find a way out of their underground tombs, but somehow allies above ground manage to find them and keep them supplied with tons of food and water for months. How is it they can be supplied with such a vast amount of materials, but they still can't get out? When they suddenly emerge, they are not weak and disoriented, but fit and ready to fight, kind of like those resliliant cartoon characters.

This underground army of anarchists, as is usual in these kinds of films, is comprised of a huge number of unbelievably loyal minions, led by a masked man named Bane (played by British actor Tom Hardy of “Inception”). Bane wears some kind of air filter-looking gadget over his mouth, making it difficult to understand what he says. Bane sounds like Sean Connery would if you put a gag in his mouth, put some duct tape over that and dropped him down in the bottom of a well so his muffled voice would echo a little bit. Instead of some reasonable explanation for the mask, we get some ridiculous statement about it being some sort of pain management sling. Remember the kid in the hell-hole prison? The kid is so grateful for being abandoned by the father that the kid grows up wanting to be just like dear old dad. I know, it doesn't make any sense at all.

Meanwhile, Batman (played by Christian Bale, reprising his role from the first two Batman films) has retired, hampered by many injuries suffered during his Batman activities. He uses a cane to get around. He is gradually pulled out of retirement by Bane's activities and that of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway of “The Devil Wears Prada,” who breaks into his safe and steals his mother's jewelry. Another character who gets him back in the game is a cop named Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt of “The Lookout”). Blake is a fellow orphan who guesses that Bruce Wayne is really Batman. Another character who helps talk Batman out of retirement is Gotham's police commissioner, Gordon (Gary Oldman, reprising his character from the first two films in the trilogy).

Armed with a nuclear bomb, Bane takes over Gotham City, imprisons the police and sets up kangaroo courts where working class people get to condemn rich people to death. This sounds like some kind of Republican victimization scenario, but it really isn't. Rich people are shown as both villains and victims, as both good and evil. At the same time, the film offers the clearest choice between a flawed civilization and total anarchy. In the second film, The Joker made anarchy look attractive. It looks downright ugly in this film, as it should. Batman's task in all this is to disarm the bomb and save the city.

The film has a number of big-scale action scenes, with bridges and football fields blowing up. There are a number of fight scenes and battle scenes. Batman has a new helicopter-style gizmo and that fat-wheeled motorcycle thingie featured in the last film. Sparks fly between Batman and Catwoman. The banter between these two is almost worth the price of admission. All in all, I liked it about as much as the first two films. It has some good characters, none as impressive as The Joker, but interesting characters nonetheless, and the film's outcome is healthier, with hints of a future for Robin and Catwoman, among others. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)