Current Weather
The Spy FM

In Troubled Times, A ‘Dark Knight’ Returns

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
July 19, 2012

Before a hero can rise, he must suffer a fall, and fall the Dark Knight quite spectacularly did the last time around, taking the rap for crimes he didn’t commit, marking himself as a vigilante pariah and even letting Heath Ledger steal the reviews. No way that’s happening in this last installment. A comic-book tale that has gotten darker than anyone thought possible is now careening toward a burst of light — possibly a nuclear blast — at the end of the tunnel.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has always focused on the psychology of evil, and this time the director is looking more at evil’s sociological implications. Bat gizmos or no, this new movie has both feet planted firmly in the real world.

What’s your poison? Terrorists? Wall Street shenanigans? Government incompetence? Nolan’s got you covered. This film’s bad guy trained in a Middle East hellhole, conspires with stock manipulators and exploits the mother of all police cover-ups.

Are you troubled by the social inequality making political headlines? Studio heads may identify with billionaire Bruce Wayne, but Nolan knows there are more moviegoers in the 99 percent.

“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne,” whispers Ann Hathaway’s cat burglar. “You and your friends better batten down the hatches, ’cause when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.”

She’s not the only one who has mastered messaging. Bad guy Bane — the bane of all our existence, as played by Tom Hardy in a mouth guard that’ll give fanboys orthodontist nightmares — has his anti-government rhetoric down so pat, he can make a new Bastille Day sound vaguely reasonable.

And his diabolical plans for Gotham mix other specifically Dickensian horrors with modernist ones: people’s courts straight out of A Tale of Two Cities, a surveillance society on steroids, even underground tremors that will stoke fracking fears. All of it set not in the stylized Gotham of the previous movies, but in a gritty, post-Sept. 11 Manhattan, complete with a still-under-construction tower at Ground Zero. Quite a setting for super-sized superheroics.

I saw the film in 35 millimeter and did not feel deprived, though I’ll certainly be heading back to catch it in IMAX at some point. Even without an image five stories tall, the spectacle is considerable, pumped up by a Hans Zimmer score so thundering that it pretty much drowns out the dialogue in some spots.

And if a couple of Morgan Freeman’s bat-gizmos seem sort of standard-issue — a big-wheeled bat-cycle, for instance, that’s not very interesting until it corners — he and the rest of the characters keep things plenty compelling, whether they’re old friends like Michael Caine’s protective butler, Alfred, or new ones, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s earnest police officer.

As you might expect from the creator of Inception and Memento, there are surprises both in the story and in the storytelling. But the biggest surprise may just be how satisfying Nolan has made his farewell to a Dark Knight trilogy that many fans will wish he’d extend to a 10-part series, at least. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

12AM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center