Friday, May 25, 2012

Didn't the Dark Knight already rise?

Didn't the Dark Knight already Rise? 
By Jerry Saravia

Maybe I am in the minority but I can't imagine what can be done that is as intoxicating or as epic as "The Dark Knight." In the closing scenes of "The Dark Knight," Joker (Heath Ledger) makes mincemeat out of Batman (Christian Bale) verbally, not physically. And Gotham City had its doubts about that flying bat man as well. At the end of the picture, the nocturnal hero flees in his Batbike and we were left with one of the most intriguing finales of any superhero movie ever. It was intriguing enough that director Christopher Nolan and most fans had their doubts that a third film should even exist (and I sensed an implied doubt about a third film after the premature death of Heath Ledger). How can you beat the Joker for pure malice, nastiness and destruction?
Thomas Hardy as Bane
Of course, money talks in Hollywood and Chris Nolan is again directing the third and final chapter in his revisionist Batman trilogy. Bane is the villain (previously seen in "Batman and Robin"), wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask (it comes equipped with an analgesic gas to relieve pain) that proves to make his dialogue sound like gibberish (this will be cleared up apparently in the movie). Catwoman is also back, played by the eternally boring actress, Anne Hathaway (sorry film fans but I have not had the pleasure of seeing her Academy-Award nominated work in "Rachel Getting Married", though she was quite effective in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"). Christian Bale is naturally back, whose own Batman and Bruce Wayne characters were reduced to second fiddle next to the Joker in the last picture (Of course, that might be by design.) Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as the butler, Alfred, also return.

But can this third chapter really thrill people much and be a match for the first two? I sense that a big NO is in order. I've seen the trailer and it looks more like a demented sequel to "The Departed" than anything remotely like Batman. Bane and his gang look like terrorists (perhaps, again, by design) and there is some Occupy Gotham subplot that sounds silly. Hathaway's Catwoman looks just as witless as Halle Berry's version. Gone is the seductively sleazy trappings of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman from twenty years ago.  By the way, Pfeiffer was supposed to have her own "Catwoman" flick and it happened, but with the far less physically dominating presence of Halle Berry cast instead.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a movie by the sheer ineptitude of a trailer ("Shutter Island's" icky horror movie trailer has no similarity to the actual movie). But I am not worked up or anticipating this sequel. It seems that Nolan should've ended it with the emasculation and impotence of Batman in "The Dark Knight." This is true of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which ended the Terminator saga beautifully with no open-endedness. "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" was a schlocky yet diverting sequel, more like an unnecessary and repetitive footnote that negated part 2. I guess I don't want a Batman movie to be too political and too police procedural-like (heaven knows, there is enough of that on television alone). A Batman movie should be fun and energetic, just like "Batman Begins" or even Tim Burton's own 1989 flick. "The Dark Knight" was a downer and purposely so, with many invigorating scenes and first-class acting and lots of subtle political overtones. It was epic fun and blackly witty and it closed those two flicks with an ambiguous note. I will probably see "Dark Knight Rises" at some point and hope I am wrong, but DC Comics's strangest hero seems to be occupying Chris Matthew's "Hardball" more than DC Comics.