Friday, July 20, 2012

A Dark Night In Denver

Thursday night, select movie theaters around the country offered fans a showing of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, culminating in the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at one minute after midnight. Had I still lived downtown, I might have done this, because I lived within walking distance to a movie theater. Where I live now, there is no way, since the film ended after public transit stopped running and I had to work on Friday and the movie is close to 3 hours long. I know at least one person who attended the trilogy showing.

In the morning, the news reported on a shooting incident at one unfortunate multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb to the east of Denver. One young man dressed up in heavy gear and started firing at people in the audience twenty minutes into the movie, killing 12 and injuring more than 50 others. A few strange coincidences were also reported. One victim was a lady who had survived a shooting at a shopping mall in Toronto earlier this summer. What are the odds of someone being at two places that turned into a mass shooting scene of terror? She survived one but not the other. It brings to mind the horror film Final Destination (the premise of which, you can't escape death, even when you think you did, watch out!).

The other strange coincidence is that a trailer for an upcoming film, Gangster Squad, is attached to The Dark Knight Rises and features a scene where gangsters open fire on a movie audience from behind the silver screen. Chilling! This isn't the first time that a movie coincides with a real life event. When a sniper in Washington, D.C. was terrorizing people who were getting gasoline for their cars, a film called Phone Booth came out (about a sniper on the loose). Also in December 1997, the film Wag the Dog came out in which a girl with a beret was revealed to be in a sexual relationship with the president. A month later, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Is Hollywood psychic? Or do they have the power to manifest their ideas into reality?

It was tough being at work and wanting to read articles and listen to the news about this latest episode of a massacre. It's also interesting that it happened so close to Littleton, where the Columbine High School massacre shocked America back in the spring of 1999. Of course, it does not take long for a debate to ensue about our gun culture. The NRA is guaranteed to come out with their idiotic statement: "guns don't kill people. People kill people." Duh! But it's much more difficult for a person to commit mass murder with a knife or with a single-shot rifle. Only a semi-automatic gun could produce such an outcome where 12 people are dead and more than 50 are injured. Why does any human being need such a gun? The only purpose for having such a gun is to inflict mass casualties in a short amount of time. When our Constitution was written, our Founders probably did not envision a future in which machine guns existed. They only had rifles that they had to reload after each shot. What would they have thought if semi-automatic machine guns existed when they wrote the Second Amendment?

Despite the massacre, though, I was not letting that prevent me from going to the movies after work to see the concluding film in Christopher Nolan's excellent trilogy.

Thankfully, of the many trailers shown before the film, Gangster Squad was not one of them. I did watch that trailer on YouTube and was shocked by the graphic nature of the movie theater shooting. It definitely would have been in bad taste to show that trailer in theaters now. In fact, I hope that the makers of the movie decide to scrap that scene altogether and shoot an entirely different scene. It's just in bad taste now.

In the new Batman film, which takes place eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has become a crippled recluse while no one has seen Batman after he has been blamed for the murder of Harvey Dent. The heroism of Dent is played up to the hilt, even when Commissioner Gordon doesn't want to play that game. Things appear to be going well for Gotham, as criminals have been locked up under the new Dent Act. The city is safer, but as Selina Kyle told Bruce Wayne in a later scene, "a storm is coming."

I was impressed with every scene in which Anne Hathaway appears. She does a fantastic job as Selina Kyle / The Catwoman. The scene above is reminiscent of the Bruce Wayne / Selina Kyle scene in Tim Burton's Batman Returns, when they both share a dance at a costumed ball. The dynamic between Bruce Wayne / Selina Kyle and Batman / Catwoman is intriguing and I'm glad that this was introduced in the film. In one scene, Selina Kyle shows just how terrified she is of Bane, the main villain for this go-round. You can see the fear in her eyes.

And she has much reason to fear, as Bane represents the most terrifying villain I've ever seen on film. Not only is he massive in his build, but the mask he wears over his mouth to help him breathe and his deep, bone-chilling voice is enough to make any person pee in their pants if they find themselves face to face with this menace. I would not want to be anywhere in this guy's presence. He is the embodiment of true evil. This version of Bane is enough to make anyone forget about the retarded version in Joel Schumacher's Batman and Robin. That Bane was a complete moron who followed Poison Ivy around like a puppy dog.

There are allusions to the 1% versus the 99% (Occupy Gotham, anyone?), about the corruption of wealth versus the anarchy created when Bane and his followers take control of Gotham under threat of a nuclear device. There is also references to hell and being stuck in it, versus escaping it to live out your destiny.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a nice addition to the cast, who plays an earnest police officer who still believes in Batman. My favourite line in the film is when Commissioner Gordon tells him: "You're a detective now, which means that you learn that there are no coincidences." He proves to be one of the true heroes in this dark tale.

I thought it was interesting the number of actors from Nolan's previous film Inception: Besides Gordon-Levitt, there's Tom Hardy as Bane, and Marion Cotillard as Bruce Wayne's love interest. Oh, and the guy who played Dr. Jonathan Crane in the first film in the trilogy is also back.

While the film is good, I still think Batman Begins was the best of the three. The trilogy is a little too dark for my tastes, but definitely a grown up version of the comic book hero. If I was a parent, I'm not sure I would bring children to see this trilogy. The plot is a lot more complex and there's not as much action as a teenager might prefer. Thus, the Burton and Schumacher Batman films are more geared towards children, which is why I prefer the realism of the Nolan trilogy. But in a film with such a menacing villain as Bane should have offered some lighter moments to balance the mood. Selina Kyle was a welcome distraction throughout the film, but not enough.

Nevertheless, it's a good conclusion to an amazing trilogy. It's unfortunate that the opening was marred by the senseless violence of a crazed lunatic. It saddens me that lives were lost over what should have been a joyous occasion for fans. The trilogy presents the nature of fear and how it is used to manipulate and control people. When we shy away from what we want to do because of fear, then fear wins. Hopefully, what happened in Aurora doesn't cause people to decide not to go see a movie they might've wanted to see. We must continue to live our lives and not let our fears get the best of us. Let's rise above the senseless violence.

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