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Notes on 'The Dark Knight Rises,' from Sequels to Oscar Steakeaters

Awards
by Anne Thompson
July 26, 2012 4:29 PM
6 Comments
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One thing we know about "The Dark Knight Rises." That it is the last film of its kind makes it all the more imperative that people see it. And I expect the numbers to be very strong this coming weekend, as there was a predictable damper on last week's attendance, due to the Colorado tragedy.

Despite the fact that "The Dark Knight Rises" is the culmination of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy-- the filmmaker will not return, nor will most of his cast--there will be a sequel. And Warner Bros. will not walk away from the Batman franchise. It pays for too many of their other mistakes. They have the luxury of not fretting too much when "Dark Shadows" or "Rock of Ages" fail to make their money back, thanks to franchises like "Harry Potter" and "Batman." Well, both are gone now. Which is why there is so much at stake with DC Comics reboot "Man of Steel," the return of the "Superman" franchise led by producer Nolan, writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder.

So Warners isn't going to let momentum on "Batman" lag. They will find a way to keep this franchise going. SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN "TDKR": plots surrounding two successfully relaunched characters, Anne Hathaway's Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Robin, are the most obvious ways to proceed.

The second thing we can expect, Colorado or not, is an Oscar campaign. It helps when critics such as Ken Turan of the LAT throw the Oscar gauntlet to the Academy. And Chris Nolan was close to landing a best director nomination for "Inception"--he worked it, and wanted it. But an original like that has a better shot at major non-technical Academy Awards than a comic book sequel. The Academy remains a group of high-minded folks who appreciate and enjoy these films without granting them the weight and gravitas they may actually deserve. Even if Nolan cites such laudable forebears as "Metropolis," "Dr. Zhivago" and "Blade Runner," "TDKR" lacks the kind of literary cred that fantasy epic "The Lord of the Rings" derived from J.R.R. Tolkien. I've heard Academy members rave about the latest James Bond film too. But they don't put it on their best picture ballot.

One thing "TDKR" might have in its favor is what Oscar campaigners call the Steak Eaters. The Academy is full of them--they're red-blooded males (not just American--Europeans and Aussies too), often directors, writers and craftspeople. They're the guys who voted for "The Silence of the Lambs," "Braveheart," "Gladiator," "Avatar" and yes, "Crash" over "Brokeback Mountain." "They vote for big movies that make big money," says one veteran Oscar campaigner, "good solid moviemaking with great actors and good storytelling."

This faction of the Academy is also likely to vote for "The Dark Knight Rises."

6 Comments

  • Anne Thompson | August 1, 2012 4:20 PMReply

    Nolan has two powerful women more than hold their own with Batman and Bane...and neither woman is treated as a primarily sexual object. This is progress.

  • Beth Hanna | August 1, 2012 7:50 PM

    Agreed. Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle is terrific. It would be so easy to have Cat Woman be just a fetish object, but instead she's a real female character with survivalist motivations. And genuinely kick-ass!

  • Sybil | July 30, 2012 11:22 AMReply

    Why is no one commenting on how misogynistic this film is? The only intelligent, educated woman is revealed to be enemy of the state? What does that say about American attitude's towards women??

  • Grifter | August 4, 2012 8:37 AM

    You're clearly high and need to rewatch the movie without the influence of any substances.

  • Vin | July 27, 2012 10:10 PMReply

    SPOILER ALERT: Not sure how WB can develop a franchise around cat woman, given that, at least from my reading of TDKR's ending, she'd given up her mask and was instead canoodling in Florence with Bruce.

  • Evan | July 26, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    Really hope it picks up a nomination. I know alot of people hate on how messy it is at some parts, but I feel it makes up for it with it's emotions and themes. It is so powerful in those two areas. I really think it is great, engaging, and it resonates.

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