Friday, July 20, 2012

'The Dark Knight Rises' - a mini-review (a couple of minor spoilers)

It's one last ride for Christian Bale as Batman.
You've seen all the trailers for "The Dark Knight Rises."

You've seen all the Internet chatter about unannounced (returning) villains and plot twists.

You laughed your ass off when Rush Limbaugh said the movie was an attack on Mitt Romney.

"The Dark Knight Rises" is an attack, all right - but one aimed directly at your senses. Bridges blow up. Buildings blow up. Gunfire fills the air. People scream. But the film doesn't rise to the same level as the first two parts of the trilogy starring Christian Bale. It strives mightily to top its predecessors, but ultimately falls short.

The returning characters - Bale as Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon - fill their roles to our expectations. The new characters? Not so much. Anne Hathaway is a Catwoman who appears to have lost all nine of her personalities. Tom Hardy's Bane is big, tough and annoyingly difficult to understand through his mask.

In the end, it's a movie full of sound and fury, but signifying little more than a clear bat-signal that director Christopher Nolan knows it is time to move on to other projects. It surpasses the too-soon reboot of "The Amazing Spider-Man," yet cannot match the crackling energy of "The Avengers."

Oh, the cast and crew try. And in many ways they succeed. It is not a bad movie - in fact, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre of masked vigilantes and crazed super-villains. The plot - increasingly preposterous as the film moves along - leaves questions big and small while eventually abandoning any pretense for even comic book logic (what happened to Bruce Wayne's limp? 3,000 police officers trapped underground for three months?) But it also takes some interesting twists.

As a superhero movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" is a mess - a glorious mess. As a finale, though, The Batman and his fans deserved better.

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