Monday, July 23, 2012

Did the Dark Knight Rise Enough..and Santa Cruz and the movies

It looks like in the Super Hero Movie Sweepstakes, it will be The Avengers with the Gold, Batman the Silver and Spider-Man the Bronze.

The third Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, collected nearly 161 million dollars in its first weekend, despite the horrid publicity it got from the tragic shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Before that, there were murmurs the movie didn't like up to the previous one, The Dark Knight. To be honest, what could? It was Heath Ledger that drove the success of that movie.
When you think about it, people who watch super hero movies, including Batman, watch it for the villain rather than the hero. Spider-Man had Doc Ock and the Green Globlin, X-Men had Magneto, and the Batman movies of the 1990's had the Joker the Penguin, and the Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman...then it kind of fell off the cliff with Mr. Freeze Terminator and the Riddler.

Does this mean TDKR failed because Bane was no Joker? To some, that may be the case.
Tom Hardy was still great as the evil masked man. He was brutal, but he also looked like a WWE wrestler. You could undertsnd him, but the accent didn't make him the definition of unbeatable evil. His size did, though.
Also, did anything think it was odd the bad guys already knew (Bane, for one) Batman was Bruce Wayne? No need for secret identities, no sir. Then again, since Bane was with the League of Shadows, and it sort of knew who Batman was, that made sense.

I also knew Harry Knowles was really upset about what Alfred did in this movie, when he had his doubts Batman could beat Wayne. Michael Caine really did a great job as the loyal butler. It was heartbraking to see Alfred beg Bruce to get back into the world and help Gotham as himself, not the Batman. Then there's Marion Cotillard, who played the Rachel role as the very rich and loyal Miranda Tate. It was her money and her love for Bruce, that kept Wayne Enterprises off the hands of Dagett...who recruited Bane to get what he wanted. Bane's no lackey, though. So, when we found out who Miranda really was, that was a disappointment because it turned out to be Chris Nolan's only way to make her more interesting. That included her true motivations connected with the bad guy from Batman Begins. At least Joss made Black Widow interesting from start to finish.

Now, let's all admit the obvious...Anne Hathaway stole this movie, and we should all line up to see her in Les Miserables on Christmas..then Django Unchained after that. This girl was a sharp cookie who justifies her crimes as taking from those who already have enough, I wish there were more backstory on why she chose this path, aside from the mug shots. Just notice how we see her: she starts as a maid, and then whe nshe gets caught, she turns her attitude on a dime. She starts as someone who believes in self-preservation, then realizes actually helping people out has its rewards, such as a clean slate. If there is any way Anne could be in Expendables 3, they should do it. Giving her a Best Supporting Actress nod come movie awards time makes a lot of sense.

Before we get to Batman and the cop, I want to say that when I saw this in Imax, I thought the story was a bit bloated. Too many speeches, for one, You coud have cut from the football stadium scene, Bane blowing up the prison, and Bruce's time in Bane's pit. I guess Nolam wanted to tie up the trilogy the best way he could. When I saw it again in Santa Cruz I saw that you needed Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the cop who was just as heroic as Batman. You needed that story of the child who escaped from the pit to inspire Bruce to get out the same way. Otherwise, it unravels. It may have been too much story, and it was all needed to bring the trilogy to a finish. As for this being a metaphor for the Occupy movement, it seems to be Bane thought he was the modern Robespierre, freeing the criminals who shouldn't be locked up, and taking from the rich just because you can. No wonder Catwoman thought this was a bad idea after all. What's the point of being a thief when no one chases after what you took...and that includes you Bruce (although you did recover what was taken..but not something else). You could still cut ten minutes from the movie.

So how about Batman? He was the bad-ass hero again, but this time he had to be reborn, to rise...but he did it as Bruce Wayne. The climb from the pit reminded me of climbing Mt. Midoriyama fro the REAL Ninja Warrior show. Christian Bale did a great job showing that struggle. His fight scenes with Bane were also basic and brutal.
Gordon-Levitt also served as a man of action and a conscience for Comissioner Gordon, when the truth about Harvey Dent's death is finally revealed. If Nolan wants to make a Robin movie, he's got the right man. Til then, bring on Looper.

The Dark Knight Rises is a good super hero movie, not quite like The Dark Knight but that's only because Heath Ledger's an impossible act to follow. It'll earn a ton of money, but it won't overcome The Avengers, which played it smart by making its heroes just as compelling as the villain, or maybe more. We should know more next weekend when we see if TDKR can retain a lot of its original take. If it falls suddenly as Amazing Spider-Man did, that will be a bad sign. After all, Batman now has to face some Bane-sized movies like Total Recall, Bourne Legacy and Expendables 2.

Now I have some pictures of the movie scene in Santa Cruz....

Del mart at Night 2

The movie house of the area, the Del Mar. The Regal 9 may be bigger, but it doesn't have the tradition this place has.

Not Quite Grauman's But Still Like The Movies

WHo says Grauman's Chinese is the only place where you can heave handrpints? This is outside the Nickleodeon. The actors are Waltr Reed, who had a long career befoe he moved to Santa Cruz, and western actor Rory Calhoun

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