Should You See Dark Knight Rises?, Plus Summer Movie Power Rankings

July 23, 2012 1:18 pm 0 comments

Of course you’re already going to see the new Batman movie, but where does it fit in the all-important HMGL Summer Movie Power Rankings?

Matt Ford

Be honest: Have you ever been more pumped for a movie release than Dark Knight Rises?

What movie has had the magical combination of enormous expectations, a perfect release date, a great cast, and the assurance that Chris Nolan/Christian Bale/Morgan Freeman/30 other A-Listers wouldn’t put out a shit movie?

Yet I’m still figuring out whether or not it hit my expectations. Dark Knight Rises is one of the best movies of the year, as we hoped it would be. Plot twists, subtle storytelling and heart-pounding moments (like Bruce Wayne escaping an old world prison, for instance) make this movie another masterpiece.

But is it possible for a masterpiece to not quite hit your expectations? … No, right? Well, I’m not sure. This is a great movie, but go in with realistic expectations (plus, don’t sit in the front row) to be sure you really appreciate it.

A run-down of Dark Knight Rises, with as few spoilers as possible:

The Good:

Marion Cotillard. Quietly putting together one of the best resumes in Hollywood since 2009 – Inception, Midnight in Paris, Dark Knight Rises, Contagion, Public Enemies – Mademoiselle Cotillard is nailing down the “Not Bat-Shit Crazy Female Actress Who Is Not Just Hot But Can Also Act” niche previously occupied by Natalie Portman and never once occupied by Megan Fox.

Bane. In each Batman movie, there was a formidable villan whose ascension from comic books to “reality” makes the movie feel heavier. Bane’s M.O. of sharing the wealth of Gotham is logical enough (right, Karl Marx?). And his penchant for chaos is similar to the Joker’s –he just wants to see the world burn, as Alfred might say — yet he’s motivated by a pure love for Cotillard’s character. Nolan’s Batman villains have complex motivations, and while Bane is no Joker, he’s still an interesting foe. Who happens to fight like Mike Tyson and has a neck like Mike Alstott.

Harvey Dent Fatheads. Seems like everyone in this movie had a poster of Harvey Dent laying around, didn’t they? Aaron Eckhart is somehow in this movie as much as Michael Cain.

Riding the wave of the Occupy movement. DKR manages to pay homage to the most significant cultural protest in half a century. The story of the lower classes rising up against the upper class is one of the most popular in modern storytelling, which is partially why the Occupy movement caught fire. Feelings of revenge, anger and shared goals prevail in those stories, all of which could give rise to a wack job taking power — or a great antagonist narrative for a superhero movie. By latching on to the historical protest du jour, DKR gives itself historical relevance; those shots from outside the New York Stock Exchange were taken during the height of the Occupy movement, and the shitty economy continues to be on everyone’s mind. Am I digging too deep here? I don’t think so — this is the first movie to really acknowledge the power of the Occupy movement, right?

Zoom zoom.

The ending. The last five minutes of DKR are subtle and cover a lot of story-telling ground. It was so good, and so familiarly excellent, I felt like I was waiting to see a quick cut to that spinning dreidel/totem from Inception. I think we all can appreciate a director who knows how to end a movie, right, Ridley Scott?

Rebounding from Maggie Gyllenhall, who wouldn’t sleep with you DESPITE KNOWING FULL WELL YOU ARE FUCKING BATMAN, to Anne Hathaway in full-body spandex. Let’s hope the actress who first played Rachel Dawes achieves a similar narrative.

The Bad:

A truly ridiculous appearance by The Scarecrow, which caused the crowd in my theater to actually LOL the moment he appeared on screen. The only explanation I have for scenes with The Scarecrow are that Dark Knight Rises had to adhere to the International Law stating Cillian Murphy has to be in every Christopher Nolan movie.

Watching hit movies on opening weekend in New York City. Nothing like getting to a movie theater 15 minutes early and having to sit in the front row. Who are all you people? Why do all of you live in New York? At least the ticket was only $14.

Why was Nolan so in love with the Raz Al-Gul storyline? Did anyone predict the storyline of Batman Begins resurfacing in the third installment and thus enjoying a hugely prominent role in the series? Not following up with the Joker plot-line and moving forward again with the Liam Neeson storyline is like reporting that Chris Bosh signed with the Heat but ignoring the LeBron signing.

Verdict: Tough to nitpick at a great movie — overall, DKR gets at least a 9 on the scale of 1-to-Dark Knight.

But where does that put it in the grand scheme of summer movies?

Without further ado, the real reason you’re reading this article.

HMGL Summer Movies Power Rankings as of July 23: 

1) Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson holds down the No. 1 spot, at least until Campaign season. A unique story, well shot and brilliantly acted. And didn’t have the burden of enormous expectations to hit like DKR. (Note: a re-viewing of DKR from outside of the front row may alter these rankings.)

1a) Breaking Bad. I know, not a movie, but… shit.

2) Dark Knight Rises. Not a perfect movie, and certainly the weakest of the three Batman movies. Having said that, still excellent.

3) Ted: Tough call between The Dictator and Ted, but the Thunder Buddies still hold the Belt For Best Comedy of 2012. Clincher: “I went to New York once in 1981 and just did not feel safe.

4) The Dictator. An excellent comedy that features a masturbation scene with bald eagles and Blake Griffin.

5) The Avengers. I still am standing up for this movie, no matter how ridiculous it was. It exceeded my expectations and will be the “popcorn flick” of the summer, and there’s something to be said for that.

100,289) Prometheus.

Honorable Mention: To Rome With Love.

Matt Ford is the Editor in Chief of Hire Me Grantland. Read his recap of the hilarious Fred Davis trial here. Or his rage against hipsters here. Or bring it on home

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