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Saturday, 28 July 2012 14:21

'The Dark Knight Rises' without much joie de vivre

chicagotribune.com chicagotribune.com
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Dates: Opened July 20, 2012

Sometimes a franchise runs too long, becoming repetitive and joyless. That’s the feeling I had sitting through the nearly three hours of The Dark Knight Rises in which even the villain seemed depressed and, truth be told, only mildly interested in his goal to explode a nuclear device in New York.

The film begins quickly, propelling the story forward with a ceremony for Harvey Dent, last seen eight years ago story time in The Dark Knight. Now Bruce Wayne lives a hermetic existence that even the wonderful Albert can’t, at first, change. But when catastrophic disaster threatens, Wayne will have to get the Batmobile with newly added flying capabilities zooming through the streets. Numerous fights, chases, explosions and instances of torture will follow right on cue.

Director Christopher Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy with the most socially critical commentary interjected into the mayhem. Voiced most often by Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, it provides a refreshing connection with the real world of wealth gained by hypocrisy fueled by greed. As Kyle says, “You leave so little for the rest of us.” Social responsibility also gets a nod, all of this still overpowered by the stunning action, some of it quite cruel. IMAX truly delivers the full audio-visual effect. But as spectacular as the visuals are, the sound mix, dominated by low rumbles at high volume, makes it close to impossible to understand a lot of the dialogue. I resorted to reading lips, a useless tactic with villain Bane since he wears a mask over his mouth.

Ultimately, then, it falls to the actors to win the audience over, to give us a reason to care beyond the theme-park ride effects. difficult with Christian Bale a cold fish, keeping his emotions so subdued that he shuts down the energy. Michael Caine is great as always; so too are Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman but they don’t get enough screen time or have enough to do to. Surprisingly, as Catwoman, Anne Hathaway alone among the cast, seems to truly enjoy the preposterous antics. She enlivens her action with a sly, radiant joie de vivre. Would that The Dark Knight Rises had more of that. At area theatres.
 

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