Dark Knight Rises, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levett. Written by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer. Directed by Christopher Nolan.

FILM SYNOPSIS: At the outset, Bruce Wayne has become a broken-down recluse, his Batman alter ego a shunned figure hunted by the police, and Gotham city now thriving, but on a political lie. It’s Harvey Dent who was the city’s savor, not the Batman, or so some would have us believe. Then, there’s Bane, a mad terrorist with a Star Wars-like face mask, which causes his voice to reverberate in a manner that would make James Earl Jones envious. Bane has escaped from prison to wreak havoc over Gotham. He convinces the population (not by increased taxes or incomprehensible legislative bills) that he wants to give the city back to the people, making all citizens equal. With an army of fellow escaped convicts, Bane, who breaks the necks of friends and foes with the same nonchalance, secretly plans to annihilate the city. And who is this pretty, long-legged party guest who has just stolen Bruce’s dead mom’s pearls? Why, Catwoman, of course.

Lured out of his self-imposed exile by his manservant Alfred and the city’s hopelessness, Bruce starts with the pushups and returns to his rubber Bat-cowl and cape.

PREVIEW REVIEW: The “new” Batman is much like the “old” Batman, only more so.

When the campy TV series first aired in 1966 I was a mere child, but I remember being disappointed that the Batman didn’t look like Bob Kane’s comic book hero. Adam West did a great job playing for laughs, but he wasn’t my idea of the Batman! So, when the film franchise began in 1989 with Michael Keaton and the first black rubber costume, I thought, ah, that’s more like it. Unfortunately, as with my childhood Fort Apache set, I had by then outgrown my infatuation with comic book heroes in capes.

I’m perplexed by the fact that audiences just can’t get enough of screen adaptations of DC Marvels. My struggle mainly rests not so much with the alikeness of these movies, but the sheer glut of them. And no matter how witty one of these comic book action adventures becomes (the first Iron Man is a great example) and despite their character development (the first Batman), the last hour (or two as in the case of The Avengers), is nothing more than a super villain throwing our super hero through every conceivable super surface imaginable. ‘Course, for many who go to these movies, that’s the draw.

Is all the violence in these movies some sort of cathartic release for frustrated viewers? I don’t know. I just know these films resonate with all the profundity of pro-wrestling and Kim Kardashian. But should I sound too critical, I may appear pompous to those who enjoy such, ah, entertainment. So, I will tread lightly, saving my “goose quill dipped in venom” for the films and followers of Russell Brand and Katherine Heigl.

The Dark Knight has always been just that, a dark, morose figure who dons his thick rubber bat-outfit despite his conflicted soul. But, this film may be the darkest of the series. I found both the imagery and the message more disturbing than usual, because in a way they seem to reflect the spookiness of the world’s political upheaval.

The villain, a cross between Darth Vader and a Wall Street occupier, is bent on bringing down the wealthy establishment (that will satisfy some, horrify others) with promises to return justice to the people. However, after humiliating the upper crust of Gotham (which is a not so veiled New York City), confounding the U.S. military and the Executive branch, he then plans to detonate an A-bomb. I won’t give anything away here, but we do see a nuclear blast. (Who these days sees such a visual and doesn’t wonder just when this is actually going to happen?)

In this age, when we know there are groups and countries actively seeking ways to bring down America, the site of its greatest city’s bridges being exploded and people taken from their homes, all their possessions “redistributed,” the imagery becomes a little more alarming than I personally want in my entertainment.

And then there’s Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. She’s a solid actress who some believe to be a true beauty. Beauty being an element centered in the eye of each beholder, I won’t offer an assessment. But no amount of tight-fitting, dominatrix-like leatherwear or the tallest of spiked heels on Ms. Hathaway can muster the ah, shall we say, allurement that a young Marilyn Monroe or a present-day Scarlett Johansson would have brought to the look. In other words, once again, Catwoman has been under-cast.

As always, that’s my opinion. And I’m sticking with it.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: I caught one obscenity and a few minor expletives.

Profanity: Two misuses of Jesus’ name, once from the Catwoman.

Violence: There’s a great deal of violence, some torture, beatings and the villain kills without mercy. Though the public in general is immune to this kind of screen brutality, some, like me, will still find the excess disturbing. Not much blood, considering all the beatings, shootings, stabbings, etc.

Sex: None.

Nudity: None.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None.

Drugs: Brief social drinking.

Other: None.

Running Time: 164 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens

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