By G. Michael Dobbs
This week's DVD column includes statements of heresy about a popular film.
The Dark Knight Rises
Who am I to dispute the success of the seventh highest grossing film of all time?
Well, I am a guy who loves good movies and the Batman character and I'm afraid the epic quality of the finale of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, while impressive at times, was ultimately an unsatisfying experience.
Since maintaining any sort of comprehensive continuity and backstory for a character that has been around in various media since 1939 is damn near impossible, Batman has become a character that various artists, writers and filmmakers can mold to their own vision. Nolan's vision is perhaps the most complex yet to hit movie screens.
The over-all story of the film is interesting. Batman has been blamed for the death of Harvey Dent; something Batman had designed himself to motivate an apathetic Gotham to fight crime. Eight years later, Gotham is safer, Batman is just a memory and Bruce Wayne is a recluse.
Things change when Police Commissioner Gordon's speech about revealing what really happened lands into the hands of Bane, a criminal with an artificially enhanced body who happens to be on a mission to destroy Gotham and its people.
"Dark Knight Rises" is filled with lots of action, huge set pieces and heavy dialogue about duty and life. It also has a story with improbable and frustrating holes. I'm tempted to break the code against spoilers, but I'll stick to it.
Nolan, who both directed and co-wrote the film, doesn't allow his Batman to be smart nor be the agent of Bane's deserved demise.
I never minded there were holes in Tim Burton's version of Batman as Burton is foremost a great visual stylist. Nolan, on the other hand, is a "serious" filmmaker who lends his gravitas to this comic book property.
His re-working of the character swipes a concept from the venerable "Phantom" comic strip, which keeps the door open for an improbable sequel.
The cast does a fine job, although someone should have worked a way for people to better understand Bane (played by Tom Hardy) through his mask.
I know this is a minority opinion, but I'm sticking to it. Nolan's conclusion leaves much to be desired.
The first season of this BBC America series is a gritty, multi-layered and often nasty bit of work.
Tom Weston-Jones plays Kevin Corcoran, an Irish immigrant in 1864 who was recently mustered out of the Union Army and has been appointed as a detective to the New York Police Department. Corcoran has a real sense of morality and ethics, which puts him at odds with the corrupt police force.
Operating mostly in the poor Five Points area in lower Manhattan, Corcoran tries to keep the peace, while searching for his lost wife. His daughter has been murdered and Corcoran struggles to deal with both situations.
The series opens with a sub-plot that will undoubtedly disturb some viewers. Corcoran finds a murdered child and discovers an affluent member of New York society killed her. Her 10 year-old sister is now sought by the same wealthy and powerful pedophile.
Another sub-plot is how the man who appointed Corcoran to his job is attempting to buy the entire Five Points area.
Lavishly produced, this production has a real ring of authenticity. This was a hard and cruel era and the producers don't shy away from violence, sex and profanity. The writers present their stories with issues of class and race in mind, making the episodes more dramatically rich. I will readily, however, admit the story line involving the sisters was hard to watch at times.
The production, although strong stuff, is at least original and often quite compelling viewing.