Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Movies

Purrrrrr! Anne Hathaway's sexy cat burglar lifts 'Dark Knight Rises'

Indeed, the Dark Knight rises from the physical and psychological traumas of his classic confrontation with the Joker. Yet the movie devised by director and co-writer Christopher Nolan to wrap up his Batman trilogy mostly hovers, a slave to past glories impossible to retrieve and spotty attempts at creating new ones.

Under other circumstances — for instance, if there were no previous Batman flicks — The Dark Knight Rises might be hailed as a landmark in adapting comic books to the screen. Comparisons to Nolan's first two chapters are inevitable and usually in the past's favor. His ambition to reinvent Batman movie mythology catches up to the filmmaker, resulting in adventure without as much sheer fun as we'd prefer and plotting that requires a lot of talky exposition.

Eight years have passed on screen since The Dark Knight, and four in reality since the late Heath Ledger's frightening, Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker. Out of respect for Ledger, Nolan forbids any references to the role although several dead characters from previous chapters are recalled in photos, flashbacks and hallucinations.

The Joker is a grease-painted elephant in the room nobody acknowledges, the fulcrum of the franchise that can't be replaced. Through tragic fate, Nolan's trilogy is shown to have peaked in the middle, when even the best series are typically treading water.

Now, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a recluse at his stately manor, retired from action, hobbled by injuries and not needed or welcomed by Gotham City's citizens. It's necessary to remember that at the end of The Dark Knight Batman shouldered blame for the evils of deceased district attorney Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. That made Batman a wanted criminal and gave Gotham City a crime-fighting martyr in Dent.

The ensuing lawfulness won't last long. Not with the hulking Bane (Tom Hardy) assembling a terrorist army in Gotham's sewers, planning to destroy the city in order to save it from corporate greed and government corruption. He's a nightmarish allegory of both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, convinced that chaos is a solution. Bane is also occasionally unintelligible, his threats and polemics muffled by a life-preserving tubular mask.

Both Bruce and Bane are dreary sorts, so the presence of Anne Hathaway as cat burglar (but never called Catwoman) Selina Kyle pops off the screen. In a gritted-teeth movie, Hathaway is a refreshing tongue tucked into its cheek — sexy and resourceful, dodging the feline puns and cliches of the role as previously played.

And what of Batman, you may ask? What, indeed. Bruce's retirement and later detour to the sort of foreign hellhole that dragged down Batman Begins keeps the Caped Crusader on the sidelines much of the time. Nolan is so intent on avoiding the genre's jokey bombast that The Dark Knight Rises skirts dullness, turning over much of the derring-do to Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cop with connections to Bruce, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Batman's weapons supplier. Cliches creep in: the countdown clock to beat, a late, left-field reversal of loyalties (i.e. more exposition) and a wee bit of a cop-out at the fadeout.

Nolan stages brawny action sequences — a topsy-turvy skyjacking, assaults upon Gotham's stock exchange and city hall, a fistfight here and there — but not enough to justify its epic running time. The Dark Knight Rises declares its importance with each scene but seldom backs up the claims. It is a climax more fitful than fulfilling, solemn to a fault and begging the Joker's question: "Why so serious?"

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 8893-8365.

   
Comments
Who’s going to die in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? Here are the candidates

Who’s going to die in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? Here are the candidates

On Monday night’s episode of Disney-owned "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," the late-night host asked his five guests promoting "Avengers: Infinity War" who might die in the new film, officially opens Thursday. After all, Kimmel noted, someone has to perish in a...
Published: 04/25/18
Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

An 80-year-old woman runs half marathons to stay one step ahead of Alzheimer’s. A man in his 50s runs his first 5K. A cancer survivor celebrates her 60s by running the U.S. perimeter.Welcome to The Human Race, an upcoming documentary celebrating seni...
Published: 04/24/18
Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Do you see what I did there? The comma and extra "E" in my byline? One last pun, just for fun. It’s the end, fin in French, and something unfortunately ruder in Swedish. Time to retire, nearly 25 years to the day after starting work as the T...
Published: 04/19/18
This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

It’s a spring cleaning weekend at multiplexes, with studios vacuuming every dollar from current releases before the Avengers and Amy Schumer drop in next week. If you’ve seen A Quiet Place, Ready Player One and Black Panther, this is probably a good ...
Published: 04/18/18
R. Lee Ermey, drill sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey, drill sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ dies at 74

.LOS ANGELES — R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s "Full Metal Jacket," has died. Ermey’s longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning ...
Published: 04/15/18
Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

TAMPA — It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, and more than a few dreams, too.So a business group advocating for a stadium in Ybor City is joining with the Tampa Theatre for a free screening of t...
Published: 04/13/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Beirut,’ ‘Rampage,’ ‘Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare’

What’s in theaters: ‘Beirut,’ ‘Rampage,’ ‘Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare’

INDIE FLICKS:BEIRUTJon Hamm has no trouble looking like a movie star. Dapper or bedraggled, it doesn’t matter what kind of role. He’ll make it believable. What he doesn’t have yet is a starring role worthy of his talent, although Beirut (R) comes pre...
Published: 04/12/18
Helen Hunt plays my high school gym teacher in ‘The Miracle Season’

Helen Hunt plays my high school gym teacher in ‘The Miracle Season’

I never had school spirit. I didn’t go to many football games, and I never owned a West High shirt. (Green doesn’t look good on me.) Then I moved away, and tragedy struck my high school.The Miracle Season, now in theaters, is the tear-jerking true st...
Updated one month ago
Why it’d be even scarier to watch John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ at home instead of in theater

Why it’d be even scarier to watch John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ at home instead of in theater

A Quiet Place is where John Krasinski’s hushed experiment in terror should be watched, not at multiplexes where silence is easily broken.Krasinski’s movie wrings fright from silence so well that he accidentally makes a case for waiting until home vid...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters this week: ‘A Quiet Place,’ ‘Blockers,’ ‘The Miracle Season’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘A Quiet Place,’ ‘Blockers,’ ‘The Miracle Season’

A QUIET PLACEReal-life married couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, right, need to keep it down in A Quiet Place (PG-13). Silence isn’t just golden; it can save your life.Krasinski and Blunt play Lee and Evelyn, whose family has survived a worldwid...
Updated one month ago