Liberal film critics lick their chops over films like "Atlas Shrugged," "2016: Obama's America" and "Red Dawn."
They expect to see conservative messages woven into these productions, and they trash 'em with glee upon release.
Director Christopher Nolan defied such knee-jerk lashings with his Batman trilogy, an epic tale which wrapped with last summer's "The Dark Knight Rises."
The film, now available on Blu-ray as part of a features-laden package, proved as ideologically subversive in its storytelling as any film from 2012.
Just how subversive?
- The film directly mocks the notion of appeasement, eschewing moral hand wringing in favor of virtuous action and sacrifice. Matthew Modine's oily character epitomizes this theme.
- Catwoman's arc reveals a top-tier thief who learns the power of redemption. She turns her back on her pick-pocketing prowess in favor of a blank slate, the definition of the American opportunity that awaits us all.
- Class warfare plays out in ugly fashion, as we watch Gotham City decay into a me-first cesspool where the affluent are literally cast out if not directly killed.
- And, of course, the Occupy Wall Street club is reduced to the villain's rogues gallery, a nasty bunch who fleece the rich to appease their own sloth.
The film itself isn't as bullet proof as its predecessor, "The Dark Knight." Nolan's propensity for overripe exposition, showcased with his mind-bending "Inception," stalks him here. You'll poke your head through a few plot holes that could have been easily patched up. The final Batman/Bane confrontation is the story's biggest frustration. The epic slugfest you pine for becomes a truncated MMA match that ends without the rah-rah finale the film set up so masterfully.
Hans Zimmer's score, by comparison, is a stunning, propulsive sound bed for the franchise capper, and performances across the screen are uniformly stellar. Michael Caine strikes precise, somber notes as Alfred, while Tom Hardy's Bane manages to cast aside Heath Ledger's three-story shadow from "The Dark Knight." And it's easy to forget just how effective Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne and Batman proved through three massive productions.
The introduction of Catwoman initially seemed like the kind of mistake most superhero sequels make. Anne Hathaway is no one's miscalculation, adding both sex appeal and a bruised humanity to Batman's swan song.
The Blu-ray extras include a comprehensive look at the Batmobile as well as a three-part series dubbed "Ending the Knight." What appears to be a modest collection of features grows and grows with every click of the remote, expanding to focus on critical scenes, fight prepartions and the totality of the franchise's achievements. You'll forgive the congratulatory tone given the greatness on display.
Hollywood is likely considering how to reboot the Batman, be it via the proposed "Justice League" group project or a separate Bat franchise.
"The Dark Knight Rises" on Blu-ray lets us take a breath, acknowledges a stunning trilogy and applaud an unabashedly conservative series that never let ideology trump story or our precious comic book memories.