The Dark Knight Rises
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, the Batman returns but is it too late to save Gotham City? My review of “The Dark Knight Rises,” next.
With all the insane hype surrounding the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s masterful “Dark Knight” trilogy, can we all agree to take a deep breath and just focus on the movie as a movie? I hope so, because “The Dark Knight Rises” is a majestic, gorgeous, brutal and richly satisfying epic.
We pick up the action eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, who has become a post-mortem hero in a peaceful Gotham City. The Batman is no more. Bruce Wayne is a now a recluse, hobbling about on a cane. He can’t even stop a cat burglar from stealing his mother’s pearls.
Ah, but there’s a storm coming, in the form of Bane, a vicious thug with a metal cage on his face. Tom Hardy sounds like Sean Connery as he delivers monologues worthy of the French Revolution while encouraging utter anarchy.
With plot points about financial meltdowns, the haves vs. the have-nots and unrest in the streets, “The Dark Knight Rises” has clear parallels to the real-world America. And when Bane and his band of terrorists strike Gotham, it’s hard not to think of 9/11. This is a superhero movie in which the superhero has no magical powers; a superhero movie in which the action, even at its most preposterous, is more grounded in reality than in any other comic book film.
In addition to the Oscar-level cinematography and the sharp if occasionally overlong dialogue penned by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, “The Dark Knight Rises” soars with this amazing cast. Bale owns that Batman growl; Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are soothing presences as his oldest friends; Gary Oldman adds a Shakesperean touch to Commissioner Gordon. The newcomers include a purring Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Marion Cottilard as a gorgeous philanthropist and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cop with a back story and a future. They are all outstanding. It is movie heaven to watch this cast at work. And though Hardy’s face is obscured by that mask, he delivers strong work as Bane.
At times the multiple storylines get tangled up and meander a bit. Once in a while I had a hard time understanding what Bane was saying from behind that mask. But these are minor issues compared to all the breathtaking action, all the memorable exchanges. And the final sequences of “The Dark Knight Rises” constitute the most satisfying five minutes of any movie so far this year. What a perfect ending. This is a worthy conclusion to one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. I give “Dark Knight Rises” an A. I’m Richard Roeper and you can get all my reviews at richardroeper.com and on Reelz.
If you Goggle “Battle: Los Angeles cliches,” this is what you get:
It’s nearly impossible to review the film without mentioning the overwhelming number of cliches that pop up throughout. You almost have to wonder if the creative forces behind “Battle: Los Angeles” were deliberately having fun with the genre. They pile on so many cliches–mostly of the war-movie ilk, but there are other genres represented as well–that halfway through the film, I started thinking, “Maybe this is supposed to be a parody and we’re supposed to be nodding our heads in recognition and chuckling at all this crapola.”
But I don’t think so. What with the pounding, “Terminator 2 meets Independence Day” soundtrack, and the square-jawed Aaron Eckhart doing his best “When We Were Soldiers” performance and the somber speechifying whenever somebody bites the dust or more aliens arrive, I’m pretty sure “Battle: Los Angeles” was supposed to be taken at face value as a war movie.
The box office was boffo, as they used to say, and some viewers have told me they know “Battle: Los Angeles” is stupid but they enjoyed the non-stop action and the video-game camerawork.
Fair enough. It’s your money.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t list just some of the cliches that surface in “Battle: Los Angeles.” (SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON SEEING THE FILM AND YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED OR AT LEAST ENTERTAINED BY ALL THE HACKNEYED PLOT POINTS, DON’T READ ANY FURTHER.)
If you’ve seen the film and you feel I’ve missed some of the cliches, please feel to contribute!
Let’s start the Cliche-o-Meter:
1. Eckhart plays a 20-year vet just days from retirement. And then…alien invasion! Guess retirement will have to wait.
2. Long after it’s clear Los Angeles is under attack, an officer tells his troops, “This is not a drill. Repeat: This is not a drill!” Well gee thanks General.
3. Who’s in charge? Why it’s none other than the book-smart lieutenant who’s 10 years younger than Eckhart–but has never seen any real combat. Uh-oh.
4. The night before the big battle, the band of brothers (and a sister or two) gather for a night of drinking. Is there a virgin in the group? Check. Will he throw up at just the wrong moment. Checkmate.
5. Rescue helicopter is filled to capacity with injured soldiers, so there’s no room for injured children. Pleeeeeeze let us aboard! Pleeeeeeze? Sorry, no can do. The helicopter takes off, leaving the children behind–and BOOM! five seconds later the aliens blow the helicopter out of the sky.
6. If you pick up a civilian along the way and he seems to be a liability, don’t worry–at some point he will have to pick up a complicated piece of weaponry, and he’ll be gifted with perfect sharpshooting abilities at just the right moment.
7. What’s that noise in the dark? Is it an alien? No, it’s only a friendly dog. Shew. Let’s pet the dog and chuckle in relief. And then five seconds later—BOOM! Gunfire.
8. Combat vet suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and now back in the thick of things? Check.
9. Even though the world is under attack and entire cities have been obliterated, CNN remains conveniently on the air, with reporters giving timely updates so the soldiers can see what’s happening around the globe.
10. The minute a soldier hands a colleague a letter to be delivered to his wife, you know that wife is never going to see her husband again.
11. If there’s a civilian woman hiding in a dark corner, oh yes, she will be a world-class beauty who looks great in jeans and has just the right amount of smudge and grime on her face, as if applied by a Hollywood makeup artist. Oh wait.
12. One member of the company lost a brother in battle in the Mideast. The commanding officer of his brother’s platoon is now…his commanding officer. Think they’re going to have a confrontation where the real truth is revealed?
13. Ooh, we’ve killed an alien! Excellent. But wait–it’s not really dead!
14. At one point Eckhart actually says to a little boy who’s lost his father, “You’re the bravest Marine I’ve ever know.” While a bunch of other Marines stand by and nod silently.
15. If your ragtag band of battle-weary but determined soldiers defeats the giant monster and starts celebrating, rest assured a MUCH BIGGER monster will quickly rise up, much to their dismay.
16. Eckhart: “I got my men killed. They’re dead. I’m here. Like the punch line to a bad joke.” Really?
17. Although the good guys triumph in the end–you expected the aliens to win–you better believe the last scene leaves plenty of room for a sequel. “Battle: Oakland” anyone?
Three years ago, Twitter was just a baby, I opened an account and tried Tweeting from the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars. Not that I even knew what to call it back then.
Photos added after the fact. The Tweets are exactly as they were Tweeted three years ago.
Read from the bottom up…
More gold love for the Coen bros. Well deserved. 10:44 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
None of the four acting winners is an American. That’s probably a first… 10:41 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
I talked with Diablo and her brother at the Spirit Awards after party yesterday. It’s obvious family means the world to her… 10:29 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
That tattoo makes Amy Winehouse look like a wimp. 10:26 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Diablo! Score one for suburban Lemont. 10:25 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Class move by Stewart to bring Marketa back out so she could say her thank you’s. 9:59 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
“Falling Slowly” — awesome. 9:50 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Backstage, Marion C. says she wanted to marry Peter Sellers when she was a little girl. 9:42 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Raise your hand if you remember Marion Cotillard was in “Big Fish” and “A Good Year.” 9:41 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
I’ll be backstage shortly and I’ll keep you posted!! 7:12 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
The last stragglers are making their way into the theater. 7:12 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Katherine Heigl: 27 dresses, and 27 feet tall. 7:05 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
I have a $100 Oscar pool bet with Clooney. I’m favored. 7:04 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Gary Busey: scary. 7:03 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Heidi Klum: apparently not from here. 5:18 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Glamour!!! LOL 4:47 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
I have about 18 inches of real estate, behind a plastic hedge. 4:47 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Early arrivals include Lisa Rinna and her lips. And Lou Gossett Jr. 4:43 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
On the red carpet now. I can’t leave my perch for the next three hours. 4:42 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
I just gave an interview to Poland’s largest daily newspaer. Fortunately the reporter’s English was way better than my Polish. 2:28 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
They used giant vacuum machines to dry the red carpet. So we won’t have to retitle the show “There Will be Mud.” 2:16 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Speaking of performances: Hillary Clinton mocking Barack Obama makes her seem cynical, bitter and desperate. 1:39 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Gil Cates says the opening 90 seconds tonight will be earth-shattering. It’s always dangerous to make such promises. 1:38 PM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
They’re going to keep the tent up over the red carpet. A soggy Tilda Swinton just wouldn’t do. 9:36 AM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
We’re about eight hours away from the Oscars, and there’s a steady rain falling. 9:33 AM Feb 24th, 2008 from txt
Casey Affleck: definitely taller than Ellen Page. 10:58 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are sitting on a sofa next to a pillow with Bardem’s pic on it . 10:10 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
I’m now at the Miramax party. They have pillows emblazoned with images from their films. 10:09 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
Samantha Ronson is the DJ at the after-party at Shutters on the Beach. 6:46 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
‘Juno’ was the big winner at the Spirit Awards. Best pic and best actress for Ellen Page… 6:27 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
Cate Blanchett won the Spirit Award for supporting actress and dedicated it to the late Heath Ledger… 4:47 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
Parker Posey is wearing a white rain coat indoors and eating popcorn. Her life is an independent movie. 3:30 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
Had a nice chat with Diablo Cody, who wrote “Juno.” She’s a grad of Benet Academy in Lisle. 2:59 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
I’m at the Independent Spirit Awards. 2:56 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
ed carpet. 12:56 PM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
I’ll be on the red carpet with the Fox News Channel at 11:30 CST this morning. 11:11 AM Feb 23rd, 2008 from txt
It’s 50 degrees in LA. They’re talking about how “cold” it might be for the Oscars. From a Chicago perspective, that’s just hilarious. 8:19 PM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
My interview with Clooney airs on WLS-TV this Sunday at 4pm. 2:41 PM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
I like mine better 2:40 PM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
Now I see his Oscar picks in Time magazine. 2:40 PM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
Last week George Clooney asked me if “No Country” was going to win Best Picture. 2:40 PM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
Hello Oscar fans! Stay tuned for dispatches from Hollywood. 9:43 AM Feb 22nd, 2008 from txt
Four days after Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” hit theaters, Drew Magary of the popular Deadspin site wrote a piece titled, ” ‘Inception’ Was Great, Now Please Stop Talking About It, Ass – – – – -.”
Four days! Has the cycle of consumption, discussion, backlash and backlash against the backlash become so rapid that a filmmaker will spend a decade creating a masterpiece — and less than a week after it’s unveiled, some are saying, “Enough with the talk about this movie!”
Nonsense. The debate about this amazing film is just starting.
“Inception” is one of the most exhilarating, breathtaking, challenging, complex and thought-provoking films I’ve ever seen. Although it’s influenced by everything from “The Matrix” to “Blade Runner” to Fellini’s “8½,” this is a wholly original work about the world of dreams, the power of love, the haunting nature of certain memories and the perseverance of the human soul. (My on-camera review of “Inception” is atsuntimes.com.)
Not everyone agrees. In a review titled, “Can Someone Please Explain Inception to Me?” Rex Reed writes, “At the movies, incomprehensible gibberish has become a way of life, but it usually takes time before it’s clear that a movie really stinks. ‘Inception,’ Christopher Nolan’s latest assault on rational coherence, wastes no time . . . [It’s a] deadly exercise in smart-aleck filmmaking . . . from Mr. Nolan’s scrambled eggs for brains . . . ”
I’ll admit I didn’t understand every plot twist and the meaning behind every line of dialogue — but that’s OK. You don’t have to “get” every inch of “Inception” to appreciate it. If Mr. Reed wants a filmgoing experience that is easily understood, might I suggest he watch “Grown Ups” again.
Some friends and colleagues share my enthusiasm for the film; others immediately want to debate me or press me for my interpretation. Either way, isn’t it great to have such a spirited discussion about a summer movie? Nobody’s having passionate arguments about the meaning of “Shrek 4.”
SPOILER ALERT. Don’t read on if you’re planning on seeing “Inception.”
I’m not going to rehash the plot. Let’s get right into some of the more popular theories about the meaning of “Inception” — and what really happens in the final scene.
Here are some possible plot explanations and ending interpretations, along with evidence to support and/or undermine each theory.
1. The most straightforward interpretation: Saito hires Cobb and his team to plant an idea in Fischer’s mind. They succeed, and Cobb is rewarded with a trip home, where he is finally reunited with his children. He will never see his wife in his dreams again. The last scene is reality.
2. At the end of the movie, Cobb is still inside a dream. That’s why the children are the same age as they’ve been throughout the film, playing in the same position and wearing the same clothes. (Ah, but the credits list actors who play Phillipa and James at 3 years and 20 months, respectively — and other actors that play them at ages 5 and 3.)
3. The whole movie is a dream, most likely Cobb’s dream. Nothing that happens in the movie is reality. It’s dream upon dream upon dream. (In one sequence, Mal says to her husband, “How real is your world, with faceless corporate goons chasing you all over the planet?”)
4. Some of the real-world scenes are actually dream scenes, and some of the dream scenes are actually real-world scenes. In this scenario, Cobb’s friend Arthur has actually engineered the entire plan, in an effort to finally free Cobb from his wife. And if that’s the case, my head is about to explode.
5. To go back to the moviemaking metaphor, “Inception” is first and foremost Christopher Nolan’s symphony about the art of making movies. As Devin Faraci of chud.com outlines it, each character in the film represents a key player in the moviemaking process. Cobb is the director. Arthur, who does the research, is the producer. Ariadne, the architect, is the screenwriter. Eames is the actor. Yusuf is the technical expert. Saito is the studio chief. Fischer is the audience.
It doesn’t matter if the ending is a dream or not; Nolan’s primary goal is to take us on a journey about the process of filmmaking.
6. By cutting away as the totem is still spinning, Nolan is creating an inception of his own — planting the seed of an idea in our minds that perhaps Cobb was still dreaming, perhaps he KNEW he was still dreaming and he has embraced that — or he truly has returned to his real life.
7. Jack, Kate and Sawyer were in purgatory, and —
Oh wait, wrong controversial/ambiguous/brilliant/maddening ending.
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