The Dark Knight Rises
The wife and I got around to seeing The Dark Knight Rises this past weekend. I'm always a couple of weeks or more behind on the cultural uptake because we have to schedule a sitter way in advance and they're never available on opening weekends. Anyhow, I wanted to offer just some brief thoughts.
Overall, the movie is outstanding. Better reviewers have outlined the basic premise of the film, so I won't plow old ground. I can say, however, that Christopher Nolan did a fabulous job tying together his trilogy and bringing these movies to a satisfying conclusion. The performances were all well done. Anne Hathaway's Catwoman was exceptional and I was glad to see Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon having a prominent role.
The main villain this time is an anarchist terrorist named Bane played by Tom Hardy. The character has a lot of great lines and Hardy delivers them well, though his modulated voice reminded me of Christopher Plummer's "General Chang" from Star Trek 6.
The only smudge on the film I am aware of is a significant continuity error during the first major battle sequence. It's daylight when the events begin, but in one quick transition, it's night. It was weird. I'm sure there are apologists who would say the battle started around 5 pm and by the time Batman gets in the mix, dusk had already fallen. Maybe.
Michael Medved also complained in his review that the soundtrack was just way too loud to make the movie enjoyable. Perhaps for the IMAX showing, but not for normal theaters, at least where I was. We saw it at the AMC Burbank and I didn't think it was too loud at all. In fact, there were points where the sound of the dialog was so low my wife and I were turning to each other asking what the character said.
A couple of "cultural" opinions.
It's truly is a crying shame this fine film had to be forever tarnished by the theater shooting that took place on opening night in Colorado by a wacko. But contrary to the hysterical left and other "cultural" finger waggers, this movie was not senseless with the portrayal of violence. I think I read some goofball anti-gun moralist opining how movies like this embolden the kind of human debris who thinks he can use 2nd amendment rights to shoot people in a movie theater. The movie has violence, but the violence has a context. It certainly wasn't even close to being the wantonly gratuitous, stylized violence like the splatter-fests seen in the movies of grossly overrated Quentin Tarantino. The kind of "film-maker" anti-gun nuts tend to hold-up as an inspired "artist." Anyone arguing the Batman movies are comparable and produce mass murderers is an idiot.
What about any Christian-themed motifs seen in the film? I honestly did not go to this film looking for them. I realize there are "Reformed" cultural pundits who try to find "Jesus=Redemption" themes in some of the most "un-Christian" movies imaginable. It's the excitable Christians I heard or read going on and on about how Neo waking up out the Matrix is a picture of Christian regeneration and new birth. That is the kind of pabulum we occasionally hear from Doug Wilson and his minions. I remember discussing with a Wilson disciple who had lived in Moscow, Idaho and attended his school about how in Titanic, Jack's "faithful" love for Rose is like Christ loving the Church. Yeah. And their fooling around in the backseat of an old car demonstrates Christian purity how exactly?
I appreciated Carl Trueman's recent comments on this fad among young, hipster Calvinists to "redeem" movies. He writes,
"I imagine the current trendy manifestations of reformed hipster theology will probably produce its fair share of people who found that conversion liberated them to watch exactly the same derivative and crass movies they did before, but now with an uncanny, Spirit-filled capacity to spot the redeemer figure in The Dark Knight Rises or The Expendables II."
Certainly Batman illustrated themes of overcoming, self sacrifice, doing what's right even if it may be your ruin, but those things are not necessarily exclusively Christian. They are more of a product of someone who recognizes core human values and is able to capture them well in a motion picture.
Which brings me to the "conservative" elements in the film. I wouldn't necessarily go as far as Ben Shapiro's gushing review calling the Dark Knight Rises the "most conservative film of all time." Maybe the most marketable film with conservative ideas woven throughout it, but the "most conservative of all time"? I mean, where would that put D'Souza's 2016 documentary?
Conservative themes definitely run throughout the movie. Whether or not that was intentional on Nolan's part I wouldn't know. It could be one of those accidental things like what happened with the movie Forrest Gump. There, the film makers and Tom Hanks became alarmed Republicans (94 being an election year) were warm to their movie because of the "conservative" values portrayed by Hanks' character. If I recall, he went on the media circuit dismissing any such conservatism in the movie.
I will say Batman doesn't show OWS in a positive light. In fact, I would argue that it shows the logical conclusion to their Marxist anarchy they promote, and that doesn't look good. It makes me wonder about the real life OWS folks Nolan talked into being extras in a few key sequences in the movie. Did they know they were going to be shown as brown shirted thugs beating on rich people and destroying property? (Oh wait, they are brown shirted thugs beating on rich people and destroying property. Never mind).
Law enforcement is also held up as heroic, even though the bulk of Gotham's police force is trapped underground by the terrorists through most of the film, the few who remain outside are shown as taking great risk to maintain the hope of law and order against the odds of Bane and his gang.
That said, I didn't go see The Dark Knight Rises because of the conservative themes or so-called Christian "redemptive" elements, though I will say the conservative ideas made the picture that much more enjoyable. I saw it because it was competent film making at its best that made me appreciate well-done story-telling we all know makes a movie great.