The Dark Knight Rises: A Fitting End

This is probably too late for the masses who’ve seen it, but last night I got to go see The Dark Knight Rises. Here’s the short version: I liked it a lot, but my wife hated it. If you’re a Dark Knight fan it’s a must. If you’re a comic book fan, it’s a good movie. If you’re just a casual movie-goer, make sure you’ve watched the first two movies in the Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) before seeing this one or you’ll be lost. If you dislike violence or psychological suspense and darkness, skip this one. There’s a good plot synopsis on Wikipedia, and I always appreciate the movie reviews on PluggedIn.

 

There are plot spoilers in this review, so caveat emptor.

 

The Good

 

I appreciated the redemptive message of the movie. After The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne goes into hiding and Batman retires. Bruce is seen as a husk of his former self who must rekindle his love for Gotham and find the strength within himself to return to the Batman persona and once again save Gotham from the evil plan of Bane.  His selflessness and willingness to do the right thing when he has every reason not to is inspiring. I especially appreciated a scene when Selina Kyle (Catwoman) tries to get Batman to come away with her and escape the bomb blast that is coming. Batman chooses to stay and save the city. He also repeatedly offers Kyle opportunities to redeem herself.

 

I love the themes of loyalty in the movie as well. Alfred is loyal to a fault, even going so far as to leave his job with Bruce Wayne in the hopes of saving him. That is admirable. John Blake is a character who starts as a beat cop and through the movie becomes a detective and is later prepped to become Robin in possible future movies. He is loyal and has great integrity. He is a great character in the movie.

 

I also think that there is a great theme of consequences in the movie. Commissioner Gordon is haunted by his inability to tell the truth at the end of the previous movie, and his lie bears the terrible consequence of bringing so much pain to Gotham and to himself. Bruce Wayne withdraws from society and the world around him falls apart. He loses much of his fortune, his health declines, and even the philanthropic work he was doing stops because his business loses money. Worse, since he is gone from Gotham as Batman, the scheme of Bane is allowed to take shape.

 

I also thought that the plot twist at the end was great.

 

The Bad

 

This movie is a Christopher Nolan movie, based on a comic book series that is in itself quite dark. If you are naïve enough to think, ESPECIALLY after The Dark Knight, that this movie wouldn’t be very violent and dark then you get what you earned. It is violent, and anyone with an aversion to violence should stay away. There is lots of death in this movie, mostly from gunplay when Gotham degenerates into mob rule overseen by Bane. Several times Bane snaps people’s necks, though thankfully the camera cuts before he does it so it’s off-screen.

 

More than the physical violence is the psychological violence. Bane is cruel and hateful. He wants to torture Bruce Wayne before killing him because Bruce killed Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins. (it’s an admittedly long plot arc) Wayne spends significant time in a prison pit they call “Hell” while watching Gotham under siege on a TV that Bane puts there. Wealthy people are made to walk across thin ice to their own death as a form of punishment during mob rule in Gotham.

 

This is also the first Dark Knight movie where we actually see Bruce Wayne have a liaison with a woman. It’s not done too terribly (Nolan cut the scene just right), but it was only hinted at in previous movies. As a redeeming feature, I felt that the way that Catwoman was presented was not ridiculously sensual, though she definitely showed off her curves in her cat burglar suits.

 

On a slightly more “who cares” note, if you’re a gun-lover this movie will drive you nuts in parts. Just about everyone who touches a gun does something stupid with it at some point in the movie, and weapons-use and handling is ridiculous in points.  When Gotham’s cops march down the street toward a gang of Bane’s thugs holding automatic weapons, the fight should have been over in a hail of bullets. Instead they all close and have a fistfight brawl that looked like it was choreographed by the writers of West Side Story.

 

Finally, a portion of the dialog is really hard to understand. Even in the theater with a quiet crowd there were several lines that I missed because they were garbled or too quiet.

 

Conclusion

 

Like I said before, if you are a Dark Knight fan then you’ve got to see this movie. If you are a comic book fan it is a good one, too. That said, the downsides to me keep this from being a kids movie. I would definitely say that it could easily have earned an R rating, so be careful taking your kids to see it. 15 would be the minimum I would consider, personally. And even for adults, if you’re sensitive to violence or psychological violence this is one to probably skip.

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