On Tuesday, July 17, 2012, I viewed the new Batman film, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES at the Loews Cinema on Tremont St. in Boston. At no time did I feel unsafe in the theater…I’ve been reviewing films for 43 years, ever since I started my own magazine in 1969 to do just that.
When TMRZoo published my review (after the Warner Brothers embargo was lifted early) people may have read this text in my essay: “Thespian abilities take a back seat to loud volume, dizzying explosives and a death march that makes for a brooding film that whacks the viewer right on cue”
In this era of The Hunger Games and slasher films that have more gore than creativity, one has to expect that out of six billion people plus on a planet you are going to find some nutjobs looking for attention and exposure.
Films have gotten far too violent. It takes no talent to throw some ketchup and flash a few knives. The Matrix took guns and bullets to a new level with both agents and Keanu Reeves character evading the lead in a way that took the danger out of what a gun actually is: a killing machine.
This “First Amendment” excuse for gratuitous violence doesn’t stand. We need to shame filmmakers into the overuse of guns in the same way that movie companies shy away from cigarettes, tobacco and other harmful “props”. The industry has survived employing characters who now don’t have to chain smoke. The industry can only improve if we have fewer films that utilize guns, knives, torture and death as some kind of “theme.” Utilizing imagination, intelligence and creativity is a fair trade for the quick fix that excites the socially depraved who have little originality; who see the escapism as a road map, not a diversion.
Director Christopher Nolan traded in creativity for things blowing up. The Dark Knight Rises needed a battle of the wits between Batman and Catwoman. The critics are already focusing on Anne Hathaway’s character as a key component of the best aspect of Rises. Bane should have had a minor role, Catwoman should have been front and center…ready to seduce and…when rejected, plotting her revenge.
The one-on-one of Batman vs Catwoman was the only logical way to follow-up Heath Ledger’s amazing Joker. The only way. Just knowing Bane was the villain prior to the film’s release was a downer. Yes, Christopher Nolan re-ignited a series after some bumps and mis-steps. Adam West was 38 years old when he played Batman on the big screen in 1966; he should have been given the role in 1989 (he would have been 61) rather than forcing the world to endure director Timothy Burton’s friend Michael Keaton…and maybe West would have been Batman reborn had he taken the role of James Bond for Diamonds are Forever (it is said Adam West declined that role! He and George Lazenby made a big, big mistake…hindsight being 20/20). But that’s the fun aspect of films and filmmaking and it can’t be lost in the quagmire of a sick mind who plots to shoot up people who are sitting ducks just going out for an evening’s entertainment. We live in an illogical world that forces violent video games, violent films and violent music on an unsuspecting population.
The N.R.A. has no excuse now. They’ll pour money into advertising promoting the Second Amendment. I say that when a crackpot walks into a theater and shoots innocent people that the Second Amendment is obsolete and the First Amendment is being abused.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.