Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Tale of Two Gothams

By Dan Hagen
“The Dark Knight Rises” is the operatic Gotterdammerung of Batman stories, thunderously melodramatic and, unlike many superhero tales, genuinely suspenseful. 
Anne Hathway as Selina Kyle, the Catwoman
The stakes are, for once, breathtakingly and convincingly high, in part because this “Tale of Two Gothams” includes echoes of real-life events — terrorist attacks, greedy plutocrats, lying political leaders and Occupy/Tea Party-style rage. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is determined and effective, and Anne Hathaway, surprisingly, is a powerful and unpredictable delight as Catwoman, a character similar in all the best ways to the Black Widow in “The Avengers.”
The hero, played for the final time by Christian Bale, endures what are essentially the agonies of the damned, and emerges all that much more heroic for it.
Despite some unconvincing emotional turns and a general lack of humor (which is a tough fit in this melodrama anyway), the film is a satisfying experience that makes comic book stories seem more real than they have any right to be.
Connect the dots between this and the brief, crude “Detective Comics” story that introduced Batman to a Depression-weary, war-haunted America in 1939, and you’ll see the process by which a society seizes upon, feeds upon and continually regenerates its own animating myths. It's a process my friend Jim Jenkins has dubbed "augustification."


  1. The grey haired man in who was helping the kids on the bus is the same actor in My Cousin Vinny. Vinny punched him in the face for 200 dollars.

    That aside, its's interesting how Batman is cast down into the deep recesses of Plato's Cave and must gain insight and courage from elders (reminiscent of Obi Wan) to get out. He has to convince those who are politically deceived as well as ethically challenged (Catwoman) to stop staring at shadows.
    I must confess, that going to see this movie after the Colorado tragedy gave Bane more of a distinct element of terror. I don't wish to minimize the event, but this situation was a strange mixture of reality and fantasy. Bane's thirst for total destruction, and his lack of compassion for his fellow man made me think how that was what people actually experienced just two nights ago. It gave this character on the screen a power over my perception that felt a bit like intellectual rape or invasion.
    Plot weaknesses? How would the real person behind all the evil convince all those goons to die as well? Were they supposed to be Taliban-esque in some way?

  2. Good points all. In answer to your last one, yes, they are an ancient ninja-like death cult, perfectly willing to sacrifice themselves. That was established in the first movie. Excellent point about Plato's cave.