Feldman @ the flicksPeter Feldman
Feldman @ the flicks
Peter Feldman: Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Rises” is the third offering in the trilogy and by far the most complex.
Dark Knight Rises
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy
Director: Christopher Nolan
“Dark Knight Rises” is the third offering in the Dark Knight trilogy, and is by far the most complex of the series.
Director Christopher Nolan, who has had a firm hand in the franchise, certainly knows his way around a story and here he brings a dramatic conclusion to everything that has gone before.
It’s a titanic battle of wills between the good and the bad, where revolution is in the air, a threat of nuclear annihilation hangs over Gotham City, and the superhero is having the worst days of his life.
Its eight years after “The Dark Knight” and Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared into obscurity. He is a broken man, attended to by his faithful butler, Alfred (Michael Caine). Images of the disgraced Harvey Dent still linger on.
He continues to pine for a lost future with the long-dead love of his life, Rachel.
At this juncture a new baddie enters the fray. He is the monstrous Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked mercenary who was ex-communicated from The League of Shadows by Ra's Al Ghul, (Liam Neeson), who is seen only in flashbacks and dreams.
Bane, whose Darth Vader-type speech is often unintelligible through his steel mask, has arrived in Gotham on a mission: to create utter havoc, an activity at which he is an expert.
However, this is merely a cover for his true motives and only one person can prevent a catastrophe. But Batman is a shadow of his former self and not up to the challenge.
Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is the new CEO of Wayne Enterprises, but is she up to the new challenges that await her?
Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is in hospital after having bullets pumped into his body.
By the time Bruce Wayne has paid a visit to inventor Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) to see what new technology is on offer, he has acquired two new sidekicks.
They are the dogged Detective John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a disciple of Commissioner Gordon, and a nimble cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).
Bane, with his powerful army of enforcers, is winning the war and the aging, injured Batman can do very little in the circumstances.
Selina is not as trustworthy as Batman initially believed her to be and Detective Blake is taking time to adjust to the challenges ahead.
“Dark Knight Rises” is a dark, often depressing scenario, brought to life by some astonishing CGI technology. There is a great deal of dramatic content in the 2 hours and 35 minutes of screen time – and it becomes something of an endurance test.
The acting is solid throughout, though the special effects tend to take over at times.
The film questions Batman’s vulnerability and there is real potential in this explosive scenario for his ultimate demise. As the narrative unfolds, Nolan also finds time to expostulate on matters of a sociological nature which have a bearing on the narrative.
“Dark Knight Rises,” though, is somewhat unwieldy in structure, providing too much exposition and too little Batman before it gets into gear. But the climax is a gripping exercise in cinematic gymnastics.
Add Hans Zimmer’s score, which is perfect for the material, and Wally Pfister’s imaginative images and we have an engaging production.
What fascinated me most, however, was monitoring the dark pattern that has weaved its way through the trilogy, first with “Batman Begins,” then “The Dark Knight” and now with this offering.
Nolan, who co-write the screenplay with brother Jonathan, has provided viewers with a totally new way of viewing superhero stories, giving it more substance, more menace, more angst. And at the end this Batman shows that he is a more heroic, more flawed and a substantially more conflicted individual than before.
It gives this production its edge.
Cast: Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest, Richard Jenkins, Mark Duplass, Sam Shepard, Elisabeth Moss
Director: Lawrence Kasdan.
Director Lawrence Kasdan, a well-established member of the Hollywood set, has assembled some distinguished members of the older generation to flesh out his latest offering, his first in nine years.
What we have here is a host of celebrated names; Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shepard and Dianne Wiest which gives movie-goers the correct impression that these veterans are in a homely story that centres on the characters’ finding a missing dog.
But, in between, there is a great deal of character interaction which helps to prop up a flimsy story-line.
Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton play a married couple, Joseph and Beth, whose zing has evaporated from their union. He is self-absorbed in his work and often distracted by other things. Their children have left the nest and the two survive each day as best they can.
One wintry day, the kind-hearted Beth finds a bedraggled dog at the side of the highway and takes him home, much to her husband’s reservations. Beth, however, develops a special bond with the rescued animal and he remains with the family.
Things take a dramatic turn when Joseph loses the dog after a wedding at their vacation home in the Rockies, and the distraught Beth enlists the help of the few remaining guests and a mysterious psychic young woman (who sees through the dog’s eyes) in a frantic search for the hapless hound.
Each member of the search party is affected by the adventure, which takes them in unexpected directions and addresses many relationship issues.
Diane Wiest and Richard Jenkins are an elderly couple who are working towards getting married, Avelet Zurer is the mysterious Gypsy woman, and San Shepard and Elisabeth Moss have cameo parts.
The acting is efficient, and is of a standard one would expect from a generation of experienced players, but nothing stands out. And while there are moments of wry humour, comic interludes and deep emotion, this folksy, well-intentioned exercise, loses its way and is a draining, drawn-out affair.
Lawrence Kasdan’s screen credits fascinate. He wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and also directed “Body Heat,” “The Big Chill” and “Silverado.” He co-wrote the screenplay of “Darling Companion” with his wife, Meg, using many of his Hollywood friends.
In the end, one cannot ignore the feeling, though, that this is a dinner-table anecdote extended into a teary, full-length feature. I loved the dog.
Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 12 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews on Mondays to The Gordon Hoffman Easy Morning Show on 1485 Radio Today (www.1485.org.za) and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.