Director Christopher Nolan says “The Dark Knight Rises” is all about Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” But it’s really also “Occupy Gotham City” as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman tells Bruce, “A storm is coming” and he’s not going to like it as the disenfranchised of Gotham City revolt against the wealthy–like Bruce, in stately Wayne Manor. “The Dark Knight Rises” had a glittery New York premiere last night with most of the cast–except Michael Caine–assembled and accounted for at AMC Lincoln Square followed by an elegant party at the New York Public Library (decorated, I am told, to look like Wayne Manor.)
At the premiere: Gloria Steinem (who was married to star Christian Bale’s father, David, before his untimely death), Ron Howard, Russell Simmons, Donald Trump, Hailee Steinfeld (from “True Grit”), rocker Chris Daughtry, Zoe Jackson (daughter of Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson), and Tom Hathaway, Anne’s brother, who just landed a web series satirizing the media from the 1950s. Hathaway brought her fiance, Adam Schulman, his parents, her parents, her brothers, and all her college friends from Vassar. Their group was the hit of the night.
What can I tell you? “The Dark Knight Rises” is quite a movie. I saw the IMAX version last night, which is wide-wide-wide screen, and something to behold. Gotham City–New York with dollops of other things cut in–looks magnificent. Saks Fifth Avenue has a prominent commercial plug–it’s the only thing left standing after villianous Bane (Tom Hardy) and his band of violent 99 percenters wreck havoc on the city. I can’t give too much away –but feh on David Letterman, I don’t know what he was talking about. Let me put it this way: Nolan gives his “Batman” trilogy a suitably emotional and hopeful epic ending worthy of the “Lord of the Rings” finale. No one will be disappointed. and there are several ‘lump in the throat’ moments in the last third of this 165 minute movie.
Some people on the screen I was happy to see aside from the main actors: Matthew Modine as Gotham City’s police captain, Tom Conti as Bruce’s friend during the long middle act, and Jillian Armanente (from “Judging Amy”) who gets to give away a major clue and spoiler toward the end of the film. Modine is sensational as Deputy Police Commissioner Foley.
The primary cast is outstanding. Christian Bale gets more face time as Bruce Wayne than in the two prior films, and is more nuanced and sympathetic than ever as Bruce Wayne. The film is somber, and there aren’t many laughs, so Anne Hathaway is a welcome relief as Selina aka Catwoman. As she’s done in films like “Rachel Getting Married,” Hathaway is expert at conveying humor in dramatic moments. Her Catwoman/Selina is as good as Heath Ledger’ Joker–she nails Selina’s grappling with being very very bad and also sort of adoring Batman. Julie Newmar and all the other Cat-women will be proud.
The best part of Nolan’s movie is that it feels real and honest. There’s very little CGI, there’s a lot of action, and even when it’s physically impossible it feels real. The script has many references to the first two films — including a cameo by Liam Neeson and a photograph of Maggie Gyllenhaal. There’s no Batmobile to speak of, but there are plenty of vehicles including a flying machine called The Bat and Catwoman’s motorcycle, which reminded me of Batgirl’s bike from the old “Batman” TV series.
Is Warner Bros. finished with “Batman”? Not by a long shot. A sequel is set up as this film comes to a close, and there is every indication that a successor has been chosen for Christian Bale. I asked him at the premiere how he felt to pass on the cape and cowl. “I haven’t passed it on yet!” he cried. No, he gets to keep them at least through the box office run of “The Dark Knight Rises.”