Sunday, July 12, 2020

When Comic Book Super-Heroes Saved Us From Edge City, Batman To The Rescue- The Scum Also Rises-Christian Bale’s Dark Knight Rises-(2012) –A Film Review

When Comic Book Super-Heroes Saved Us From Edge City, Batman To The Rescue- The Scum Also Rises-Christian Bale’s Dark Knight Rises-(2012) –A Film Review

DVD Review 

By Leslie Dumont

Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, 2012      

[I noted in a recent thumbs down film review of Joan Crawford and Clark Gable’s 1933 Dancing Girl which really turned out to be just a freebie chance to get a lot of stuff off my shoulders since the film itself took about thirty seconds to pan about what had been going on around this publication in the short time I have been here. Here as a result of it turns out a serious decision by new site manager Greg Green to change things around, to get young women, younger everything if not yet more widespread racial and ethnic diversity which the times and American social demographics cry out writing major pieces rather than the old standard stringer role that went on here for years. I have heard, mostly around the water cooler and mostly from Seth Garth who has become something of a mentor to me, that some of the older white writers have not been happy with this new regime, especially one Sam Lowell who I am now locking horns with over what is really the direction of the publication.

Frankly Greg has been all over the place trying new ideas, some working and some even to a novice like me just out of journalism grad school kind of crazy. I will give an example because it directly affects how I wound up doing this review of one of the endless DC Comics Batman sagas that has hit the cinemas. Greg, trying to assert his authority as new site manager, after what appears to have been an all-out bloodless blood-bath to remove former chief Allan Jackson who I really want to talk more about since it turned out he was “resurrected” or according to Seth who was involved in radical politics back in the 1960s with Allan “rehabilitated” to do the successful encore of The Roots Is The Toots series had the “bright” idea to have the older writers broaden their horizons by reviewing various Marvel/DC Comic films. That set of assignments set up a firestorm among the older guys who could not possibility sit through such fare much less understand why hard-working parents are forced to refinance their homes to get tickets, deadly soda and inane popcorn for their loving off-spring under penalty of insurrection-or worse.         

I freely admit I hope that the thing would fizzle giving me a chance to do my thing with fresher eyes and with a less draconian view of such films since they were a staple of one of my journalism classes- The Rise of The Blockbuster. As such thing were bound to do the older writers got squirrelly about things and so Will Bradley, Maura Mason, Lenny Grace and I think a couple of others, younger writers all got the assignments. But that is not the end of the story although I have already detailed my “dispute” with Sam Lowell in that last review mentioned above when he connived to get a prestige assignment away from me and under Seth Garth’s guidance and mentorship screamed to high heavens and got a couple of series of my own including the superhero comics work. Work that I will like Sam did to me on that prestige series rewrite what others have written in the interest of completeness. Since this one got lost in the turnover I will start with the last saga of the Dark Knight trilogy. Sarah Lemoyne]     
There is a lot the average reader of film reviews, probably reviews of any kind at least professional reviews about what goes on behind the scenes in the selection, assignment and use of the editorial fist. Some of it is generic to any organization but other things are subject to the whims of whoever is in charge. The play of say the New York Review of Books which goes for high-brow twisting reviews is very different from the cloisters of the American Film Gazette which in its long history has reviewed virtually every Hollywood and foreign film ever made in its nearly seventy-five year existence. That who is in charge, who is in charge here is my first point and for a reason having nothing to do with this yet another super-hero comic book come to cinema Dark Knight Rises which frankly I thought had been abandoned once the site manager, the guy who shapes and gives out the assignments here, heard loud and clear from us peon writers that the mass audience for this stuff does not, I emphasize, does not read film reviews in exotic flower publications filled with plenty of other stuff they could care less about.

Greg Green, the guy who shapes the contours of what gets into the public prints here after a grueling internal battle in 2017 before I signed on thought, I believe in order to quell the disquiet after that battle, to solidify his new position and create his own brand, or maybe all of the above that reviewers should feel free, without recrimination, to what old leftie the wizened and somewhat senile Sam Lowell has called “fire on the party headquarters” meaning a reviewer can, if she or he so chooses, go beyond the scope of the review and let readers get an insight glimpse of what goes on in section of the publishing world. I have taken that liberty here and without recrimination since it has seen the light of day. More ominous thought, my second point stab, is why after all of the anguish and gnashing of teeth by serious writers here are we going back to reviewing this kids’ stuff, this comic book madness. That is where the whims and whatever other fluff is going on in an editor’s head comes into play. Greg although he acquiesced ready did believe that action-packed films, above all comic book super-heroes were the wave of the future.

He suffered in silence for a while apparently but once Black Panther came out and he saw the gross ticket receipts he did a big backslide. He called it “in the interest of completeness,” meaning that we collectively had not reviewed every possible film in the genre. So here I am, woe is me, doing hard time going on and on about what mind-numbing stuff I have to review. I had to laugh when in a recent review of one of the million 007 James Bond films, another Greg Green pet project, Seth Garth brought back to memory the old days in the industry when we got paid by the word and he, I, would when we were lowly stringers trying not to starve “pad” our reviews with plenty of stuff which had not much to do with the film and hope to not get edited too badly. Now I have to write this extraneous stuff for a flat fee. And I do so here.     

This Superman, no, Batman long drawn out film is the long- expected sequel to the first one in this series. Stay with me on this since Batman like his buddy Superman has had various reincarnations depending on a generation’s take on what will play, or at least some half-baked Hollywood screenwriter’s idea of what will play, beyond the bang-bang action a minute pace expected of these things. In the first film Batman had taken the sword over the death of some do-gooder D.A. who harbored evil thoughts although he had nothing to do with that good guy turned bad guy’s demise. Except it allowed him, Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, to hibernate in some isolated splendor out on mansion row and not worry about scumbags and creeps returning to fair Gotham (the sky line of which looked amazing like, ah, New York City), to wreak havoc and turn the place into a cesspool of drugs, prostitution, gambling, shady deals and endless corruption-again. A thankless task.  

Maybe someday we will reduce the scumbag and creep population to manageable size but for now every crazy monomaniac with some dough and manpower sees such places as Western Civilization urban areas as fair game, as merely a subject for spoils. Enter one hellish brute Bane and his underground, literally underground, army ready to reduce Gotham to their playground. This guy is relentless, tough and unlike others who have tried to make an end run on the town had a plan, a plan beyond total devastation if he does not get his way. So once word gets up to Mansion Row Batman has the old flame lighted under his ass to save “his” city once again. Save with the sometimes help, sometimes unhelpfulness of Cat Woman, played by fetching Anne Hathaway breaking the mold of her girl next door looks who has her own agenda, has her own rock to get out from under.

Like I said this Bane really was a piece of work, really had his stuff together despite wearing a weird semi-mask to alleviate ancient wounds. As the battled ensues on the first go-round Batman shows some rust after that long hiatus and loses the round, is taken prisoner never to be seen again. At least that is what Bane had thought. Once Bane and crew take some action which includes having access to a nuclear machine which can be turned into a weapon the town’s police force and its general population accept the new regime for a while. At one point the machine was in cold storage but a big- time woman environmentalist has taken charge and so despite her the damn thing was weaponized. A few resistance fighters, including Cat Woman in her better moments, pushed back until Batman escaped coming back to town looking for creeps, scumbags and glory. Push back not only against Bane and his thugs but that woman who controlled the nuclear button turned out to be something like the big guy’s lover, or friend. So chaos looms, looms as long as Batman can’t figure out how to get that freaking bomb out of Gotham City’s harms’ way.           

Bruce/Batman falls on his sword again but really only off-stage in case there is to be another sequel, the desire to make this yet another trilogy which seems to be the way these comic book adventures go. Having said all that I hope, I really hope, everybody can see what a forlorn task it is write this foolishness. I hope Greg is listening-again. Just kidding but I wanted to show that I can do insightful film panning just as well as moribund Sam Lowell, or whoever writes his stuff these days         

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