The Dark Knight Rises
Director Christopher Nolan brings his Batman trilogy to a triumphant close with this epic-length (nearly three hours) comic-book adventure that makes “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” seem like trinket toys. Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy in typically spectacular, ambitious fashion with ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises,’’ but the feeling of frustration and disappointment is unshakable. There’s so much going on, with so many new characters who are all meant to function in significant ways that ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises’’ feels overloaded, and sadly lacking the spark that gave 2008’s ‘‘The Dark Knight’’ such vibrancy.
The absence of Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of the anarchic and truly frightening Joker, is really obvious here. In retrospect, it makes you realize how crucial Ledger’s performance was in making that Batman movie fly. ‘‘The Dark Knight Rises’’ is plot-heavy, obsessed with process, laden with expository dialogue and flashbacks that bog down the momentum and — dare I say it? — just flatout boring at times. Yes, the Batman world through Nolan’s eyes is supposed to be moody and introspective; you’ve got to admire the fact that he is willing to challenge us this way when summer blockbusters so often feel flashy and hollow. And yet at the same time, it takes some giant leaps with its characters which either make no sense, haven’t earned the emotions they’re seeking, or both. Nolan’s approach is so coldly cerebral that it’s a detriment to the film’s emotional core. It’s all doom and gloom and no heart. There is no reason to care about these characters, who function more as cogs in an elaborate, chaotic machine than as real people whose souls are at stake.
It’s been four years since ‘‘The Dark Knight’’ came out but eight years have passed in terms of story. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne suffers in self-imposed exile, sulking about Wayne Manor, mourning the loss of his darling Rachel and carrying the burden of blame for the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent. His goal of a peaceful Gotham has been achieved, but he’s left as a man without a purpose. The ever-loyal valet Alfred (Michael Caine), brings dignity and eloquence to the film as he begs Bruce to carve out his own form of happiness. Fellow veterans Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as gadget guru Lucius Fox are their usual dignified selves, but they don’t register the way they should because the film is so overstuffed.
Several new characters manage to draw Bruce out of his funk in various ways. Anne Hathaway brings some much needed zest to the proceedings as Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman in the Batman universe, a slinky thief who punctures Bruce’s bubble when she lifts his fingerprints from his safe, along with a beloved pearl necklace.
She’s selfish and cynical, only looking out for herself, but at least she goes about her crimes with some verve and style. The other woman in Bruce’s life, however, is woefully underdeveloped — which is a real problem because she plays a key role in the film’s climactic revelations. Marion Cotillard costars as Miranda Tate, a wealthy philanthropist, who hopes to work with Wayne Enterprises on developing clean, sustainable energy. The romance that develops between her and Bruce is utterly unbelievable.
Then there’s Bane, a muscular mass of pure evil who orchestrates an elaborate takeover of Gotham City. The character is so one-dimensional and poorly defined, he’s never so much a fearsome figure as a large and hulking one. It doesn’t help matters that it’s often difficult to make out what he’s saying beneath the cage-like muzzle that covers his nose and mouth and alters his voice. But he is the instigator of the film’s dazzling opening sequence, worthy of the best of James Bond: a daring aerial maneuver in which Bane kidnaps a scientist by hijacking his plane from the skies above. That’s probably the most effective of the many set pieces Nolan stages here, although the collapse of Heinz Field during a packed football game also has an urgent, visceral quality, with thrills that recall the most imaginative moments of ‘‘Inception.’’
This is the problem when you’re an exceptional, visionary filmmaker.
When you give people something extraordinary, they expect it every time.
(PG-13, 164 minutes)
—Christy Lemire of Associated Press
Ice Age: Continental Drift
The “Ice Age” movies are known for their sloppy science, and this one has the growing extended family of mammoths (Ray Romano, Queen Latifah and now “daughter” Keke Palmer) split up by the splitting of continents. A continental cataclysm triggers the greatest adventure of all for Manny the mammoth (Romano), Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and Sid the innocent but accident-prone sloth (John Leguizamo). In the wake of these upheavals, Sid reunites with his cantankerous Granny (Wanda Sykes). Manny, Diego, Sid, and Sid’s Granny are adrift on an iceberg, wondering how to get back to the others. That’s when they meet the pirates. Of course there are pirates!
Captain Gutt and his scurvy crew have designs on Manny & Co. And every so often, Scrat has another frustrating encounter with that elusive prehistoric acorn.
(PG, 95 minutes)
Savages (R, 131 minutes) The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13, 138 minutes.)
Magic Mike (R, 110 minutes) Ted (R, 105 minutes)
Brave In 2-D. (PG, 93 minutes)
Katy Perry: Part of Me, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
From wire reports
Return to Gotham one last time At Carmike Cinema 9
OPENING TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT