Opening July 20th: Is There Anyone In The Known Universe Who Doesn’t Know What Opens on July 20th?

A Second Question: Is There Anyway The Dark Knight Rises Can Be Everything Everybody Wants It To Be?

Will She Be Michelle Pfeifer
or Halle Barry?
The Dark Knight Rises is in a position only two other films in movie history have been in; it is the end of a trilogy and following 2nd Act of the trilogy changed the game and raised the bar to unprecedented heights. There have been plenty of trilogies in movies and they generally fall into on of three categories (don’t you just love forced symmetry?)

Category #1 – The Second Movie Disappoints (or sometimes just sucks); examples include The Matrix, Indiana Jones (I don’t count the last one, so it qualifies as a trilogy to me), Back to the Future, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (The Millennium Trilogy technically), The Dollars Trilogy, The Pirates of the Caribbean and many more. Usually the second act disappoints for one of three reasons, either the bar was set too high (How would anything have lived up to Raiders of the Lost Ark?), or the story was really done after the first movie an the continuation was forced (Back to the Future), or the people that wrote the first one weren’t nearly as clever as we all thought they were (The Matrix).

Category #2 – The Second Movie Is As Good As Or Better Than The First; examples include The Lord of the Rings, Toy Story, Evil Dead, Spider-Man, The Jersey Trilogy and The Colors Trilogy. The key to these movies is that they are as good or better and they are that way because they flow naturally from the first movie. The other thing about these movies is that they do not change the story. Yes they are more than mere sequels, but they are not game changers.

Category #3 – The Second Movie Advances The Trilogy In A Significant And New Way. There are only three examples of this. The Empire Strikes Back, which changed a straightforward “hero” story set in a very cool universe and broadened and changed every aspect of it. The victory found in Star Wars was minor (what other trilogy has so successfully minimized the accomplishments of its predecessor) and the hero seeking revenge for his father discovers a truth that truly changes everything. In Godfather II Coppola goes from telling a brilliant and compelling, but straightforward, gangster movie to making parallel movies that show how we imitate the mistakes and success of the generation before us, how we are shaped so entirely be our environment and how we can not dance with the devil without becoming a little bit like him. 

The only other example of Category #3 in The Dark Knight. While Batman Begins quite nicely tells an origins story of a hero, The Dark Knight makes us question the value of the heroes existence; what has Batman unwittingly brought down on Gotham? Batman has always lived in shadows, Nolan made the metaphorical shadows darker.

Maybe one can argue that Godfather III isn’t a fair comparison as Coppola didn’t really want to make it and it showed, but look what happened with Return of the Jedi? Watching it you almost feel sorry for Lucas because he left himself nowhere to go but down. The nature of the story required a happy ending with made the shock he was able to level the audience with at the end of Empire an impossibility. So we were left with a standard Star Wars movie, it has some good parts (Jaba’s Palace) and some really stupid parts (Ewoks) and it could never have lived up to all that it had to be. Is that the destiny of The Dark Knight Rises? It does have the advantage that it does not have to have a happy ending, it doesn’t have to do anything … except live up to a loved movie and the expectations of a world that has now embraced bright, colorful superheroes (The Avengers) and whether they know it or not they may not be as happy in the shadows as they once might have been. We’ll just have to wait and see.

By the way, there are a couple of other releases this week so feel free to keep reading after The Dark Knight Rises Preview, coming up now …

The Dark Knight Rises
Interest Level: 9
Do You Think Most People Will Be Disappointed: Yup

I am glad this is the last Nolan Batman. It isn’t that I haven’t enjoyed his take on the character, I have quite a bit, its just Nolan can wear you down. He makes dark movies. He makes serious movies. He makes movies that never let up. Look at Inception or Memento or even The Prestige and that is the thing that jumps out, they just keep digging and digging, deeper and deeper, darker and darker. They are great (Memento is literally one of my all time favorite movies) but by the time The Dark Knight Rises is over we will have been digging with Batman for 8 hours and I don’t know that I want to dig any longer with one story. But that is what has me so excited about this last Nolan take on the Dark Knight, this is it, this is the end, and I for one can wait to see how he thinks it should end. Having said that reviews are decidedly mixed. No one (or very few) are saying it is bad, but most are saying it is long and dark and serious and doesn’t live up to The Dark Knight. Like I said up top, that is the curse of the third movie when the second was that good. Can we appreciate it in a vacuum or will it always be cursed by comparison?

One last thing. Apparently Christopher Nolan really thinks you should see this movie in IMAX. No doubt it will be better but I will leave it up to you if you want to spend that much more on a movie.

Shut Up and Play The Hits
Interest Level: 6
Is There Any LCD Soundsystem On Your iPod: Nope

If you know who LCD Soundsystem is, or more to the point if you are a fan of LCD Soundsystem, then this is the doc for you. Apparently it is not only filled with terrific concert footage from their last show in NYC before disbanding, but it also has some terrific interviews with James Murphy about why they are quitting at their creative zenith that will only solidify his “cool” factor in everyone’s eyes. If you have no idea who LCD Soundsystem are, think The Talking Heads around 1980, before they broke big into the mainstream with Burning Down The House, but after they became “the” cool band that all of the people who were really into music loved (or The Pixies if you are a bit younger). Their music is described as anything from dance-punk to electronica but none of the classifications really do it justice. As for me, I am barely hip enough to be aware of them and no where near hip enough to know enough about them. I am interested, but I doubt many people over 40 will be, or perhaps even should be.
The Well Digger’s Daughter
Interest Level: 0
I Thought You Liked Foreign Flix: I do, but this has nothing for me
A Pre-WWII French family drama about a father torn by his sense of honor and his deep love for his saintly daughter when she gets in trouble with the son of a shopkeeper. Zzzzzzzzzz. We have seen this movie before, 100 times. They are all good, all have moments, and none hold much interest for me unless they can somehow rise above the obvious. By all accounts this one does not.
I just drove by my local cineplex and couldn’t help but notice, while they have built the line separators in advance of midnight showing of TDKR tonight, no one is occupying any of them yet. Granted it is just around 2 p.m. but at this time before The Avengers the lines were filling up. I’m just saying.
But hey, what do I know, I’m fat and I am suffering from the effects (or is it affects) of a concussion.