The Dark Knight Rises

Last week I saw a clever turn of phrase in a review in the New Yorker magazine, and wondered if I would ever get a chance to plagiarize it. Low and behold, as I squirmed through a couple of scenes in "The Dark Knight Rises," I realized that I truly am Lachrymose Intolerant.

Director Christopher Nolan (the Batman trilogy) is skilled enough to wring out every last ounce of emotion and affection we have developed over the years for his tragic hero. He brings us huge set pieces loaded with CGI (Computer Generated Imaging), and then scales down our focus to intimate scenes laced with humor and humanity. The dialogue is witty, the equipment is hi-tech, and the story is pretty much what we expected: Entertaining and well executed.

At the crashing finale of our previous movie, Batman took the rap for Harvey Dent's villainy. As a result, he has gone into a seven-year self- imposed exile. Isolated in his mansion, Bruce Wayne is crippled, bitter and disillusioned, while Gotham City celebrates "Harvey Dent Day" to honor the deceased hero they were lead to believe cleaned up organized crime in their city.

Last of the trilogy, we see:
  • Christian Bale ("The Flowers of War") is Bruce Wayne/Batman, our lonely and damaged hero.
  • Michael Caine ("Inception") is Alfred, Wayne's faithful valet and majordomo. He tearfully admits he has failed his charge and apologizes to Wayne for his tragedy-filled life.
  • Gary Oldman ("Lawless") is Commissioner Gordon, the lawman who perpetuated the myth of Harvey Dent's heroism, to his ever- lasting shame. Now he hopes to redeem himself.
  • Anne Hathaway ("One Day") sleek in her leather onesie, plays the clever thief Selina; BTW those thingies on her head are antennae, not cat's ears. In fact, Catwoman is NEVER mentioned!
  • Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") is Miranda, a socialite who is wealthy in her own right; Bruce Wayne realizes he can trust her with his business because she has no axe to grind.
  • Tom Hardy ("Warrior") is Bane, the disfigured villain who makes a speech that is right out of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, it's hard to disagree with much of it even though we know he is simply saying words to placate the citizens before he destroys them.
  • Morgan Freeman ("Dolphin Tale") is back in the essential role of Fox, the ingenious provider of all those gadgets, gizmos and gee- gaws for our hero.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("50/50") is Blake, a cop promoted to de- tective who is loaded with righteous indignation; he tries to pro- tect his orphanage after Wayne Industries drops the ball.
  • Cillian Murphy ("Red Lights") is Scarecrow, the judge who passes sentences in the kangaroo court. He keeps emphasizing, this is no trial, only sentencing!
  • Jillian Armanante ("Bad Teacher") is the clerk whose comment launches the satisfying final montage.
And this is only the tip of a massive iceburg! You will recognize face after familiar face. That is always so much fun for me. This is a HUGE PG-13 movie that lasts 164 minutes with very little profanity and no sweaty bodies but tons of vehicular mayhem, endless scenes of people pounding the daylights out of each other and never-ending blowie uppie stuff.

I appreciated the elegant touch of using the final speech from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. (You know, "Tis a far, far better thing...") And you'll smile at the blatant foreshadowing, even though we know full well that neither Nolan nor Bale will be back.

A happy audience exited the theater!
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Here is a link to a preview:
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