Yesterday Kish and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises, in IMAX, at the Easton AMC Cinemas.
First, about IMAX: I frankly don’t think it’s worth the extra money for standard Hollywood fare. Before yesterday, the only IMAX movies I’d seen were nature-type movies about hiking on mountains or rafting through the Grand Canyon — movies where the spectacular scenery, on the huge screens, made for an overwhelmingly memorable experience. Action-movie footage of Gotham City, car chases, and hand-to-hand combat just don’t have the same impact, no matter how loud the explosions might be. IMAX gives you a bigger screen in a bigger theater, but I wasn’t able to appreciate any other material differences from your normal movie experience.
As for The Dark Knight Rises, the film is very, very long. It has the standard elements of a seemingly indestructible, unbeatable villain and a plot that places Gotham City in mortal peril yet again, thereby allowing Batman and his comrades to show their superhero stuff. Batman suffers mightily, as he always does, and speaks with that annoying growl when he wears his suit, and gets to use some new high-tech gadgets in the Battle Against Bane.
It’s a perfectly acceptable end to the Dark Knight trilogy, as characters and scenes from the prior two Dark Knight films make appearances. Christian Bale has the Batman and Bruce Wayne characters down cold, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman play their enjoyable supporting roles well, and Gary Oldman is steady and unflappable as Commissioner Gordon. My favorite characters were Anne Hathaway, as an untrustworthy cat burglar thief turned ally, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cop trying to deal with the carnage. It’s rare that you appreciate acting — as opposed to action — in a film like this, but Hathaway’s performance broke through the explosions and fistfights. And I think Gordon-Levitt makes a very convincing, and believable, action movie hero.
All of that said, I found it impossible to watch the movie without thinking of the subtext now put on the film by the Aurora, Colorado shootings. The Dark Knight Rises is a dark, violent movie where innocent people going about their business get shot and killed by masked bad guys. How can you watch Bane’s crew kill people at the Gotham Stock Exchange, for example, without thinking of the people at the midnight show when James Holmes burst in and began firing? For me and probably for many people, the grisly backdrop of the shootings make it impossible to enjoy the movie as it was intended — as escapist, superhero fare.