I saw this outstanding movie last night and wanted to share a few thoughts about it. When a movie is as big an event as this one is, it becomes challenging to say something new and original about it. After all, if everyone’s writing about it, why bother?
My answer? Because the movie is important.
I don’t want to portray myself as a sage or some deep thinker, and I usually avoid commenting about current events. You know where this is going, right?
As I sat in the theater last night with two of my best friends, I found myself—briefly—glancing at the Exit sign and worrying—again, briefly—about some gutless maniac bursting into the cinema and shooting us. Paranoid, I know, but after what happened in Colorado, I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has had a similar thought.
Then I got to thinking about the rope scenes in The Dark Knight Rises. I don’t think this is a spoiler, but if you want to go in completely unspoiled, I guess you should stop reading now. But I promise I won’t give away the ending.
There’s a moment when Bruce Wayne is locked up and listening to two men share advice, wisdom, and a very important frame story involving Bane and other characters (for the uninitiated, Bane is the primary villain of TDKR, essayed brilliantly by Tom Hardy). One man tells Bruce Wayne (forgive the rough paraphrasing) that his problem isn’t that he fears death—it’s that he doesn’t fear death. It’s the reason, the man explains, why Bruce Wayne failed to accomplish his escape on his first two attempts (involving, fittingly, a leap of faith). The primary reason for Wayne’s lack of fear, the man says, is the fact that Wayne has had a rope tied about his waist. Lose the rope, the man says, and you’ll gain the necessary fear.
An interesting theory.
Which brought me back to my nervous glance at the Exit sign and the tragedy in Colorado.
I know that mental illness is a whole different ballgame, and I’ll not pretend to comprehend the minds of the mentally ill. But I will say that there are many people in this world who don’t understand how precious, how beautiful, or how fragile life truly is.
It’s why movies like The Dark Knight Rises are so important. Far from trivializing human life, this film affirms the immeasurable value of it. Rather than championing anarchy and the selfish fulfillment of one’s basest desires, the movie chronicles the dangers of being seduced by those dogmas and the inevitable damage such choices inflict. If that sounded puritanical or preachy, my apologies. But I happen to appreciate the underlying idea that the answers to our problems don’t lie in senseless acts of violence or an “I’ll get mine at all costs” mentality. The answers, though not as sexy as explosions and brutality, can be found in mundane ideas like behaving responsibly, helping those truly in need, and most of all, in valuing human life.
I love the way that evil and nobility are depicted across social classes. The inmates who escape from a maximum security prison are ferocious, to be sure, but so are the suits who fund Bane’s sinister plots. Similarly, Bruce Wayne’s father (seen briefly in a flashback) and Selina Kyle (otherwise known as Catwoman, portrayed marvelously by Anne Hathaway) come from opposite ends of the economic spectrum, yet both demonstrate a capacity for heroism and selflessness. The film’s refusal to canonize or demonize one group or another is refreshing and real and is one of the many things I appreciated about it.
So what did I think about the film as entertainment?
It kicked bootie. I loved Batman Begins; it was an 8.9. The Dark Knight was even better, a 9.7. I give The Dark Knight Rises about a 9.4. Not a perfect film, but a darn good one that better be nominated for Best Picture. It won’t make up for the egregious snub of The Dark Knight, but it’ll assuage the pain a little bit.
Christian Bale is better than any other actor at making potentially boring roles fascinating. Watch him work in 3:10 to Yuma, then watch him here. Being tortured and weary can be incredibly annoying traits in a protagonist, but Bale manages to pull off the combination beautifully. He’s the best actor of my generation, and I’m thankful I get to watch him perform.
Tom Hardy is a beast. His Bane could not have been any better, nor could anyone else have made Batman’s defeat look so likely. (And yes, I still think Heath Ledger is the best Batman villain, and I hate that I felt the need to say that—Hardy deserves to be judged on his own merits).
Anne Hathaway was just great. Same for Gary Oldman. Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine? See above.
Joseph-Gordon Levitt deserves special mention. I won’t say too much here, but I’ll just say this: I’d like his character to have his own franchise. Levitt was pitch-perfect.
And Christopher Nolan?
He is one of the best directors in the world. He belongs in a very select class of artists that, in my own humble opinion, represents what might be the greatest era of living directors ever. Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Alexander Payne, Woody Allen, Danny Boyle, and Darren Aronofsky are all making amazing films. And that’s not even an exhaustive list. Where does Nolan rank? I don’t know. I do know, however, that no one else could have made this film. He’s a supremely gifted and hard-working filmmaker. Like Bale, he’s among the best of the best.
Go watch The Dark Knight Rises. If you find yourself glancing at the Exit sign, don’t feel bad. In fact, you should feel good. You’re not cowering at home because of those who don’t value human life. Nor do you underestimate how evil people can be. You glance because you care, and because you care, you fear. But you don’t let fear rule your life; you let a little fear help you appreciate how amazing life really is.
None of us have ropes around our waists. We’re making this perilous climb in a world that presents constant risk and reason for worry. But there is also reason for hope because we’re all capable of good. We’re capable of caring. We’re capable of loving life and loving each other.
I’ll stop now. But do watch the movie. And do love each other.
10 thoughts on “Why You Should Watch THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Right Now”
I know I’m probably going to embarrass you, but *WOW* what a great post! I had to get a kleenex. Our thoughts on humanity and loving one another really line up, and seeing as you write horror, and I read and write on it, I think that says something too, don’t you? I love this post. I’m going to re-post it. I think this is one of your best so far. *take a bow*
Now, what was that you were telling me about not really reading comics?? lol Ok, sir, I think if you love Batman like I do, and you get the whole idea behind the characters in comics, you see why comics are so very important still in society.
Batman is every woman’s dream…little good, hint of bad boy. Well, at least mine. Oh, and I KNOW you just said how great Christian Bale is because he’s my *boyfriend*…alright, I just like to look at him, which i see is why you posted two great photos of him. Thanks, friend. lol! No, really….he is a great actor I agree.
I am anxiously awaiting seeing this film, soon!
I always say, if everyone just LOVED, wouldn’t the world be a much better place?
Thank you, Erin! I always suspected you and Christian had something going, but I’m glad you’re finally making it public.
I really appreciate the repost, too. Many thanks!
Your last line says it all. Love is stronger than hate, but hate can pack a mean, nasty punch sometimes.
Reblogged this on Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK! and commented:
I really LOVED this post by my friend Jonathan Janz about the film Batman and what it can teach us, even through the tragedy surrounding it.
Outstanding post and I agree with you 100% on every point. Kudos!
Thank you, Kealan. Very much appreciated, man! 🙂
I’m so glad hookofabook reblooged this! I completely agree with everything you said. I am not even a Batman fan but man oh man! It was soooo good.
You’re so right about Joseph-Gordon Levitt and I really am crossing my fingers for that because he was GREAT! Beyond expectation, fabulous!
And Anne Hathaway! Oh! I just adore her. She made the BEST catwoman, but yes the actors and actresses in this movie made it fantastic. I’m so buying this one!
Thank you for a beautiful post!
novareylin, THANK YOU! Levitt and Hathaway were outstanding–wouldn’t it be cool if they both appeared in further movies?
Thanks again for your kind words! 🙂
YES!! To be honest, I was a tad worried about Anne Hathaway. She sure showed me!
Now off to find your books! I’m such a fan of horror but I got out of reading horror the past couple of years sadly. Time to get back to it!
Nova, I have a review of The Sorrows up on my blog and am reading House of Skin. I love me some Jonathan. 🙂 Check him out on my blog for a recommendation!
novereylin, I was worried about Hathaway too. But she made a believer out of me as well.
I hope you enjoy my books! House of Skin and The Sorrows are out now, with much more to come in the future. 🙂