The Dark Knight Rises
As I said when the DVD was announced, I wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises mainly because of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, um, Selina Kyle. I didn’t catch it in theaters, because I find these spectaculars too dark for my taste. I don’t even recall if I ever saw The Dark Knight (because I was upset by Heath Ledger’s passing), and I was three years late on Batman Begins. So this is something of a naive writeup. Plus, at 2 hours and 45 minutes, I’m more comfortable watching the movie at home. Thanks to Hathaway and the film’s message of redemption, however, it became my favorite of the three in the trilogy.
After taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s death in the previous film, Bruce Wayne has holed up in his mansion for several years. We all know Batman is going to return, but it takes the new threat of Bane, super-terrorist (played by Tom Hardy with an Alien on his face), to make it happen. The cast is great, of course, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a dedicated cop, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon (who gets shot, providing additional motivation to Wayne), Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine as Alfred (to provide housekeeping and exposition). On a personal level, it was a pleasure to see Tom Conti again.
Christian Bale seems well-suited to play Bruce Wayne as a grumpy recluse, obsessed with his solitude. But it’s Hathaway that kept my attention. I loved her bad-ass schemes as pleasant changes from the video game-style action, especially when she outwits Wayne. (Didn’t really care much about the political layer, though.) I wanna see her get a movie!
There’s an air of unreality to all of this — especially with Bane’s dialogue sounding like it was overdubbed by the bastard son of Patrick Stewart and Sean Connery on a completely different audio track. A lot of times, the sound is almost unnecessary, anyway. So much is conveyed through the action and visuals.
The stunt sequences are so outrageous as to be almost cartoony, although filmed with great attention to detail, huge spectacle, and immense amounts of bravado. I almost didn’t need Batman, with the ears and the cape, because he looks slightly ridiculous compared to all the realism the rest of the movie strives so hard for. Still, he has cool toys, even if his voice is still silly.
I spent the early part of the movie wondering what Bane’s motive was, other than scaring people and taking hostages. I mean, I know he wants to mess up Gotham, but I don’t know why. (Other than “he’s a bad guy.”) Apparently, this film is a better experience if you’ve seen and remember the first two films, since some plot points stem from the previous installments.
You may need to watch The Dark Knight Rises more than once to get all the details and schemes, although that’s a very different reason to rewatch than for something like The Avengers. The latter, I want to see again because it was so much fun; this one, watching again feels a little like homework. (And it’s not going to make the plot holes go away — during one climactic showdown, I kept wondering how much use someone trapped underground for three months was really going to be in a hand-to-hand battle. Not to mention why you’d keep engaging with your fists with someone so much better at it than you are.)
Then again, that’s another great reason to watch at home: I could read about the movie in other sources while just letting the astounding visuals wash over me. Although it is kind of weird how negative some of its messages are. Like doing the right thing getting you killed, or how authority figures rarely make the right decisions, or how trying to save Gotham ends up blowing up a large part of it anyway. (Do you know how much it would cost to rebuild a major urban bridge?) Whatever, it’s a fantasy. And a very impressively visual one.
The Combo Pack has two Blu-ray discs, one for the movie, the other for the extras; one DVD; and an UltraViolet copy. There’s also a single DVD edition, movie only, or a pay-for-download version available, or a box set of all three Nolan Batman movies. All come out on Tuesday, December 4.
There’s a second screen FX app for iPad users, which in addition to the featurettes below, includes design documents and images for locations, costumes, and vehicles. However, most of its content isn’t available without syncing with the Blu-ray. Here are the features on the second disc:
- “The Batmobile” (58 min) is almost an hour on the Batman’s cars, including the animated ones. Adam West and Tim Burton participate, which is pretty nifty, as well as the infamous director of Batman and Robin, Joel Schumacher, and George Barris, designer of the best-known Batmobile, the one from the 60s TV show. I was thrilled to see our buddy Bob Greenberger on screen, too. Crazy fact: one of the Batmobiles has tire treads that make Bat-symbols in the tracks. How does that work with a secret identity?
- “Ending the Knight” is broken up into sections (with no Play All). These are also available in the tablet app in the Featurettes section.
- Production: 12 parts, focusing on key effects scenes and bits of movie-making. Those I looked at were anywhere from five to eight minutes each. Most interesting to me was the one about the football stadium scene.
- Characters: “The Journey of Bruce Wayne” (9 min), “Gotham’s Reckoning” (10 min on Bane, although we don’t see Tom Hardy on-screen out of the mask), “A Girl’s Gotta Eat” (9 1/2 min on Selina Kyle)
- Reflections: “Shadows & Light in Large Format” (5 1/2 min about how big a production this was in scope and locations and filming for IMAX and such), “The End of a Legend” (9 min on ending the trilogy)
- Trailer Archive, with four versions of the trailer, played together or separately
- Art Gallery for the print marketing of the movie, with 30 images, many of the same key art with different poster treatments
It’s not as comprehensive a feature package as I’ve seen on other films, but then again, I can’t think of much that’s missing, beyond a commentary that I probably wouldn’t listen to anyway. (The studio provided a review copy.)