July 2012 Archives

tdkr-prison.jpgDepending on how you choose to count, there are either three or four Batman resurrections in The Dark Knight Rises.

Superheroes — and especially Superman — have long been seen as Christ figures, and from its title to its returns from the “dead,” The Dark Knight Rises appears to impose that connection on Batman. Aside from the obvious savior similarity, the comparison is knotty — but worth exploring.

tdk-rises-1.jpgChristopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is an incredibly ballsy movie.

I don’t mean its scope and ambition, both of which are indeed impressive. I mean the audacity of choices that could have easily backfired: following Heath Ledger’s nuanced, razor-sharp Joker with the nearly blank thug Bane; recycling Batman Begins’ sinister plot, doomsday machine, and League of Shadows; inserting teenage-boy masturbation fantasy Catwoman into a universe largely devoid of sex appeal and camp (and non-Rachel Dawes women, period); crafting a lengthy, convoluted first act made even less comprehensible because of the sound design and score; and relegating Batman to captivity of one sort or another for the vast majority of the movie’s first 115 minutes.

The conditions Nolan imposes on Batman and Bruce Wayne are similarly challenging. He’s older and gimpy, still a scapegoat for the death of Harvey Dent, lacking purpose, and hiding in his rebuilt mansion. When he emerges from seclusion, he’s not facing individual foes but a disciplined, driven army, and a stunning plan for the destruction of Gotham that appears to have anticipated every eventuality — and ensures that the Dark Knight won’t be rising anytime soon.

Rises, then, feels like a triumph over much longer odds than either Nolan or Batman has ever faced, its success harder.

dark-knight-redux-1.jpgHow about a magic trick?

I previously pulled off David Copperfield-scale wizardry by turning Robert Zemeckis’ bloated, 150-minute Contact into a lean, 53-minute masterpiece. (Yes, that’s hubris. Have you missed me?)

This, admittedly, is a more modest feat — something you might see from a living-room magician rather than on television — but I’m rusty, and it’s impressive legerdemain nonetheless. So here goes: I shall transform Christopher Nolan’s 144-minute The Dark Knight into a significantly better movie by trimming eight minutes from it. I shall make two cuts, both from the first 17 minutes. (The 153-minute official running time includes the opening production logos and the closing credits.)

First, I eliminate the opening bank-robbery sequence, which on my Blu-ray runs from the 53-second mark to the six-minute, 23-second mark. Second, I delete the first courtroom scene and the bit of Jim Gordon/Harvey Dent small talk that follows, from the 13-minute, 53-second mark to the 16-minute, 29-second mark.

Ta da! They’re ... they’re gone.