Friday, July 27, 2012

Film: A worthy conclusion -- The Dark Knight Rises

Quite simply, "The Dark Knight Rises" is a remarkable film by any measure and a worthy conclusion to Christopher Nolan's fine trilogy -- a series that has redefined the whole concept of "rebooting" a film franchise.

While there are those who think that the frenetic Heath Ledger-infused "Dark Knight" is still better as a stand-alone film, this concluding third installment sets new standards of its own.

Consider one thing alone -- Nolan made a lengthy film based on comic book characters and yet kept the action in the climactic sequence to a minimum. Lesser filmmakers would have dragged it out into what would have been (or seemed like) an hour's worth of CGI tedium. Nolan trusted the story to carry itself and had better things to do with the time alloted.

Christian Bale is again pitch-perfect as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine dominates the screen as Alfred in every scene in which he appears, and Anne Hathaway manages to create a "Catwoman" character (wonderfully never actually called that in the film) who is indispensable to the film rather than a goofy sideshow. In addition, Nolan “reboots" a couple of actors from his stunning "Inception” -- the fine Marion Cotillard and an unrecognizable Tom Hardy as Bane.

Which brings up another bit of silliness. We have heard tell that Jon Stewart and assorted other leftists have been riffing on the homophony of "Bane" the arch-villain and "Bain" the Mitt Romney corporation that the Obama campaign has been attempting to turn into an arch-villain.

This is hilarious because of the themes and visual imagery that run through the heart of the film -- that of the French Revolution. There are even explicit invocations of Charles Dickens's Tale of Two Cities. As Gotham descends into madness, power is being given "to the people" -- and as happened in the days of the Jacobins, what this really means is tyranny, terror, and power in the hands of the few -- or the one. Given that the intellectual roots of the modern left arose squarely in the milieu of the French Revolution, the idea that anyone is going to come away from "The Dark Knight Rises" with some sort of anti-Romney brain implant is amusing. Anti-capitalist revolutionary spirit does not make itself attractive in this film. More to the point, however, is that the themes are universal and archetypal -- trying to read modern politics into this script is an exercise in irrelevance, whether one does it from the right or the left.

See the first two installments of Nolan's trilogy (the first one -- "Batman Begins" is perhaps the most important to have fresh in the memory), and then treat yourself to "Dark Knight Rises."

No comments: