Friday, July 20

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Five minutes after getting back home from viewing the midnight premier of the last installment in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy of Batman movies, I posted the following on Facebook:

Just in from seeing The Movie ... Will have to process it, but first impressions are: 1) I liked it; even tho 2) It lacked the constant sense of anticipation as to what outrageousness will the Joker get up to next? But holding it to the Heath Ledger Joker standard is unfair anyway....

Those words seemed a little on the sick side only a few minutes later when my son's girlfriend – who had also attended – called and told us to turn on the news. The emerging reports today that the perpetrator identified himself with the Joker only sharpen the sense of grotesquerie. The events in Colorado will, I believe, forever loom over this movie. They have already provoked both ends of the political spectrum to commence throwing around accusations and recriminations in a shocking, but entirely expected, politicization of a tragedy. Before I give a few thoughts on the movie itself, I feel the need to express my reaction to the murderous frenzy and its aftermath.

What happened early this morning was caused not by the Second Amendment or the Tea Party, nor by comic book or movie violence, nor by Right-Wing conservatism or Left-Wing liberalism. It was caused, apparently, by a single deranged individual with a sick need to win fame through infamy. To think or allege anything else, or to attempt to capitalize on his actions, I believe to be an insult to the memory of those – most likely of a range of political affiliations themselves – who were in attendance because they were fans of Nolan's vision of a hero who has been interpreted in many ways for seventy years. One of the messages that runs through Nolan's Batman movies, made explicit even at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, is that anyone can be a hero, although that heroism may well not be recognized or remembered. James Hughes' “alleged” actions in seeking attention through his horrific rampage are entirely antithetical to that.

Having said that, and expressing my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, who are in my prayers, what are my feelings about the movie itself? 

 Going back to my first impressions expressed above, I repeat again that I liked it. I enjoyed it thoroughly and came away satisfied. It did not rise to the level of The Dark Knight, although as yet I've not identified nearly as many plotholes and sheer implausibilities as several years' and viewings' reflection on the second movie has ultimately revealed, but it did make an overall better movie than did Batman Begins, which for me at least faltered in the last third or so. I could belabor a list of the things I really liked (Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle) or didn't like (the significantly changed visual appearance of Bane), but see no real point in that. The most important thing is that this movie accomplished its task better than most film trilogy conclusions in that it did bring together all the various elements and themes of the first two movies and tie them up into a satisfying conclusion that brought in more of the myriad story-lines and plot arcs from the long history of the character, shook them up, and recombined them in sometimes unexpected ways. Nolan even allowed a fanboy shoutout – which his movies have noticeably lacked, instead carving out their own little universe – at the end, which I admit caught me unawares despite the rumors 'way back when as to what Joseph Gordon-Levitt's role in the movie might be. I grinned even as I thought how forced the moment seemed to me. And almost immediately afterward, Nolan allowed a satisfying concluding moment that up until virtually the last instant I expected to be a much more ambiguous ending.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Coming from the UK and having very little true knowledge of USA gun laws or how they are interpreted from state to state, it would be unfair and rather stupid of me to make any comment on any of them. So instead I will offer my sympathies and thoughts to the family and friends of all those affected by this tragic event, having travelled to the States on several occasions my wife and I feel a strong connection to the people of America. In all our times spent there we have never felt unsafe even when we walked around New York at midnight, and this is something that I always tell people when we get back home. America is as safe a place as any that I have ever visited the simple fact is that things like this can happen anywhere, and we always hear about them because the media love bad news story's.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Rob. Ever since I put those words to virtual paper I've been thinking of things that I could add. It's a difficult thing to process. But it ultimately comes down to what you say, "things like this can happen anywhere." There are good and evil people everywhere, and we each have free will to choose. Trying to blame anyone other than the perpetrator himself, especially for political gain or to press a political agenda, is reprehensible beyond words.