Posts Tagged ‘ Christian Bale ’

The Dark Knight

dark_knight_movie_PosterThis second part of the Batman Trilogy, as directed by Christopher Nolan, introduces Batman’s arch nemesis.

He comes in without a story, an intro, or a motive, and offers to the mobs, who have been crushed under Batman’s and Jeff Gordon’s rule, that he will kill Batman. All they have to do is chalk up half of all they have.

So desperate to be rid of Gotham’s knight and hero they agree, and so sets in motion the most twisted and vile actions of Gotham’s newest super-villain.

The Joker.

 

Things I liked

The reoccurring theme of the Dark Knight, if it could be summed up in one word, would “Sacrifice”.

Batman, once again, is a light in the darkness of Gotham. He keeps his rule of “no killing”, even when faced with the temptation and perhaps, justification to do so. He is Gotham’s “White Knight”, who takes all guilt upon himself for the good of the city.

Harvy Dent, a statesman who does not succumb to the the threats of the Joker and the Mobsters sacrifices his career for Batman, he chooses to fight crime not to get votes, but because it is right. He is the hero which the public people of Gotham grow to love, and as such, the Joker grows to hate.

Another man familiar with sacrifice is Chief of Police Jeff Gordon. He faces death many times, and is prepared to give his life for ordinary citizens, Harvy Dent, and even Batman. He puts his position at stake by providing the help Batman needs, and stepping back when is necessary.

When we see a man act in a manner which is extremely selfish, and we see him almost lose his life over that action. Anytime a person acts for himself, the consequences are quite bad. Save for the Joker, he didn’t get that memo.

Lucius Fox and Alfred are two men who serve as mentors to Bruce Wayne. They speak some profound wisdom in the movie in dealing with the Joker and acting in a manner which is good for others and not self. The Civilians of Gotham also choose to stand up against the Joker, and don’t participate in his final social experiment.

Things I didn’t like

The reoccurring thing I didn’t like can be summed up into one word. The Joker and his murders.

The violence in The Dark Knight is not of blood, gore, and mass killings. They are mental, the camera looks away, and try as you might not to, makes you imagine what happened behind that closed door. The Joker puts is best.

“Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the… little emotions. In… you see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are.”

And he does use the knife. In terrible, mesmerizing, and horrifying ways. He tells stories. Stories of how he got the scars on his face. You are drawn into the 30 second tale of family abuse or a broken marriage. And then… A swift movement and the camera cuts away. Letting your depraved heart fill in all “those little details”.

Many people are shot, some villains, some police officers. We see a men hung, dressed like batman, hanging from the Gotham bridge. Another hostage is “played with” by the Joker on a News Station. The Joker blows up buildings, cars, and more. He sets on fire a pile of money with an accountant strapped to the top. He kills a man with a pencil through the eye. A man is blown up with a bomb implanted in his stomach. We see a man’s face catch on fire, and a full closeup of the damage afterwards in gruesome detail. A young woman is killed with a bomb…. And that is not even all of the examples.

There are about a dozen profanities, God’s name is used in vain, and so is Jesus’ a few times as well.

There are a few low cut dresses shown, as Bruce has to maintain his public image of a reckless and dumb young guy.

Closing Thoughts

I’ll say this now. These thoughts are going to be long and many. The Dark knight is a complex movie of many themes to consider. There are no plot spoilers though.

What is perhaps most disturbing about the Joker isn’t the fact he uses a knife, enjoys killing, or does not recognize a moral compass. What is most disturbing, is he understands man’s natural state of depravity, and he embraces it.

“These people’s morals, their code. It’s like a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you, when the chips are down… These… “Civilized” people… They’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster, I’m just ahead of the curve.”

We see and read here the Joker understands man is flawed and naturally evil. However, he rejects the hope there is something better, rather, chooses to live without a spiritual mask, and be who he truly is. The result is a man whose methods are so disturbing and evil, it makes you ask “Is that really inside me?”

If the motive of the Joker could be fleshed out, I would say it is making Batman see how society and even himself are living under a self placed spirit of delusion. That they are being “clowns” in their nice little societies, putting their faith in Laws and Rules.

“You have all these rules and you think they’ll save you! The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

Instead, he advocates anarchy, because that is living in reality, not hiding who you really are.

“I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”

This movie without doubt shows there is evil in the hearts of man and in the world. What it fails to do is provide the viewer with equal confidence of there being “good” in the world as well. This actually isn’t surprising though, as Christ is absent from the movie. Without Christ, there is no good in man, and honestly that is what we see in the Joker and in many other characters.

The sole redeemer is Batman, who plays the role of of the literary “Christ Figure”. He sacrifices for those he loves, his name, and his well being to save the people of Gotham. Not from physical destruction, but a societal one. He takes the blame, for which he has done no wrong, in the form of a lie. A lie in which does not serve or protect himself, but ultimately serves and protects others.

The Dark Knight is a mesmerizing, horrifying, and thought provoking film. I cannot think of another movie which demonstrates man’s natural state anymore clearly than this one, and does so in a manner so well done. What is no joke however, is the lack of hope, which I expected to be shown in the Dark Knight Rises. The fact is, the Joker, and his ideals are all but disregarded in the third movie, which leaves the lack of good still in question. Ultimately we know good will conquer evil in the end, and there is Good in this universe, which is the Trinity of God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

This is where The Dark Knight falls so terribly short. Instead of combating such a terrible evil with a greater good, the evil is allowed to win. Maybe not on the script, but it definitely does in our mind. Making us imagine and feel murders, while watching the Joker gleefully go on his merry path of heartless destruction, is enough to turn anyone’s stomach sour. Then the best we see our hero do, the Batman, is take the blame for an action the Joker did? It is heroic, but hardly a victory. In fact, one could argue Batman still lost, because the Joker got his way and killed the Batman, just not physically.

Evil triumphs over good in this movie, which is something I can neither advocate nor recommend. The Joker plays masterfully from his hand, while Batman desperately claws for any card which will give him a hand to play. That hand never comes, because it was the Joker’s game all along. Batman was just the inexperienced opponent to make the game interesting.

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The Prestige

Prestige_posterAre you watching closely?

Every magic trick has three acts. The Pledge, where the magician promises to amaze. The Turn, where the magician does something ordinary, and makes it extraordinary. That’s not what makes a magician great though, the power of a magician lies not in his trick, but in his secret. It isn’t enough make something disappear, but you have to bring it back. That is the third act:

The Prestige.

Two men have been pursuing this prestige their entire career. However, one night, a terrible event happens, and these two partners become enemies. They become obsessed with the quest of having the greatest act, the greatest prestige a magician can obtain. And in the 1890s, these feats can be quite… dangerous.

The two men, Robert and Alfred, go back and forth, sabotaging people, tricks, and more… For the goal of defeating the other. This looks to go on forever, until one day, a trick is performed… But is it really a trick in the first place. Is it real ? Has science made real magic possible?

Again I ask…

 

Are you watching closely?

Things I liked

To be blunt, the movie’s setting and tone is a dark one. Not because it is frightening, but because of the plot. Robert and Alfred are dead set on beating the other for the purposes of revenge, ambition, and pride. Man’s natural depravity is shown here, and the consequences of that sin is never something uplifted or shown to be admired.

Cutter, the engineer behind hundreds of tricks is one who stands out as the light of reason in the film. He warns both men what this obsession will do to them. He understands the mind of the performers. “They are magicians. Men who live by dressing up simple and plain truths to shock. To amaze… Their life itself, is a lie.” It is worth mentioning, he is not without guilt though. As scripture says, those who know good and do not do it, to them it is sin. He often assists in their tricks, and raising the stakes, even when he knows it will ultimately destroy them.

One man makes an enormous sacrifice for his daughter.

This movie is set in the late 1800s. Magic is more than just a hobby, it is a career. I enjoyed the historical accuracy of the movie, having done reading on the history of magic. The filmography was artistically done, and the story is masterfully written.

Things I didn’t like

Because of the risky business of tricks in that time period, and the obsession each has to defeat another… There violence of a… realistic nature. Not huge body counts like in war movies, but little things, which raise the stakes all throughout the movie. We see two people drown, two hung, one a suicide. There are corpses shown. A man is shot nearly point blank. Sometimes machinery is manipulated to damage the magicians, or the volunteers. We see broken legs, bloodied fingers, lost fingers, and a few dead birds.

The stage assistants wear clothes which are immodest for the purpose of distracting the audience. One man is unfaithful in his marriage. Kissing is shown.

There is one guy consistently drunk who plays a major part of the movie.

Cursing includes h—, b——, d—, and God’s name is used in vain.

Closing Thoughts

“You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty anymore, are you?”

This is asked of one of the magicians after a particularly horrid act.

After watching this movie, the puzzles to unravel were many. The twist at the end was truly spectacular, and one of the best endings I have seen in a long time. It was odd, not to have a hero to root for, nor have an antagonist to despise. Neither men were worth emotional attachment of concern or glory, and it was done intentionally so.

After taking a while to mull over the movie, I have come to the conclusion, if anything, The Prestige is like a magic trick itandof itself. It looks complicated. It looks stunning. It promises to be amazing, and quite honestly, it is.

But there really is just one simple theme, and is captured in this quote :

“The audience knows the truth: The world is simple. It is miserable all the way through…”

When you pull back the curtain of the complex plot and twisting script…
The Prestige is gone and you find the simple truth. All you are left with is a bloodied trail full of suffering, selfishness, and obsession. Seeing once again, the things man is willing to do out of pride and selfish ambition. Reminding us why it is so important to…

“Let nothing be done out of selfish ambition or vain conceit  but in humility let each esteem others better than himself.” ~Philippians 2:3~

(Note, much of the content of the movie cannot be revealed due to spoiling the plot, I have done my best to include everything which is of note or concern without giving the story away. Be aware though, the content is only partially complete.) 

Batman Begins

“Why do we fall, Bruce?  So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Bats.  Ever since he was attacked by bats as a child, Bruce Wayne has been afraid of the creatures.  When actors dressed as bats appear on-stage at an opera, Bruce begs his parents to leave early.  They exit through a back door into the alley–where Bruce’s parents are robbed and murdered by a thug.  Driven by guilt and anger, Bruce waits for 14 years for his chance to kill his parent’s murderer, but someone else gets there first.

Broken and shamed, Bruce abandons his estate and wanders the world, studying the criminal mind.  But “The world is too small a place for someone like Bruce Wayne to disappear,” and Bruce is discovered by a mystical group that offers to train him to fight crime.  But when Bruce learns that the group’s plan for abolishing evil involves destroying Gothem City, he must decide for himself what is the right way to achieve justice–and determine just how far he’ll go to protect his hometown.

Batman Begins tells the enthralling tale of how the Dark Knight embarked on his journey to fight evil.  It was the first “grown up” superhero movie I ever watched, and my mind is still spinning from the onslaught of this new action-packed world.  Batman Begins is a complicated film on many levels–but in a good way.  Here’s why.

The Just

The story of how Bruce was inspired to join the fight against evil is not only engaging–with a realistic set-up and a very endearing young Bruce–it’s thought-provoking.  Bruce’s family is portrayed as loving and stable; Bruce’s father, in particular, is kind, caring, and generous.  It’s Bruce’s devotion to his father that plays perfectly into his transformation into Batman, making his character transition realistic and engaging–and it also incites a lot of questions about the nature of justice.  Throughout the film, the theme of justice is expounded–and contrasted with revenge–on many levels.  Although I didn’t necessarily agree with every thought presented, the film shed light on many angles of the subject and gave me much to ponder.  It’s a film that makes you think, which makes it an excellent piece for discerning audiences.

One particularly interesting element regarding the theme of justice is Bruce’s resistance to killing his enemies.  He staunchly refuses on several occasions, instead leaving them for the police to arrest and try lawfully.  While Bruce isn’t entirely consistent with this ideal, as I’ll discuss below, it does motivate him to make on crucial and very admirable decision.  [spoiler!]  When the mystical group reveals that they want to destroy Gothem City, a rat’s nest of evil, Bruce refuses.  No matter how much evil there is in the city, the people are still worth fighting for.  (Gen. 18:32)

Aside from the main plot of Bruce and his search for justice, there is a delightful cast of secondary characters, and I found several of them to be very endearing–and admirable.  Alfred is a wonderful example of loyalty; even though he is only a butler, he watches over Bruce like a father.  He doesn’t give up on Bruce, despite his mistakes, and he challenges Bruce to do something with his future–and begs him not to destroy the family name in the process.  Gordon, the police officer that Batman wins as an ally, shines as a just soul who is willing to go against an unjust system.  And Rachel, the district attorney and long-time friend of Bruce’s, is a rare and lovely example of femininity.  She fights for what is right and isn’t afraid to stand up to bad guys or Bruce.  She takes action and challenges Bruce to achieve a higher standard, yet she doesn’t run into danger or try to save the world on her own.  Her primary role in the final climactic battle is defending and comforting a small child, a very endearing and feminine moment.

On a related note, the developing romance between Rachel and Bruce is very subtle and tame.  For most of the film, their attraction manifests itself in their desire to take care of each other–Bruce protects Rachel, and Rachel supports and challenges Bruce (and Batman).  Near the end of the film they do exchange some romantic words and one kiss, but there is no flirting or sexual overtones.  In fact, Rachel is never shown flaunting herself or wearing noticeably immodest clothing, a very refreshing portrayal.

The Unjust

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the two girls Bruce takes out on a date.  In an attempt to conceal his secret identity, Bruce tries to fill the role of a millionaire playboy.  This results in a decadent evening out that ends with Bruce in a pool with two women who have evidently undressed.  While very little skin is shown, it is still worth noting.  What’s also worth noting, however, is that this behavior is not condoned.  Bruce runs into Rachel shortly after and feels the need to explain that “all this” is “not the real Bruce.”  Rachel replies with, “It’s not who you are underneath that defines you, but your actions.”  Although the scene was unnecessary, and certainly isn’t appropriate for children, I do think Rachel’s response shows good character.

Aside from that one scene, the adult content in the film is very mild.  A few men are shown shirtless briefly, but there is no other overt immodesty or sexual content.  There is a fairly generous dose of moderate language, in addition to at least one swear word and direct misuse of God’s name.  The mystical group has some quasi-religious rituals and claims to have supernatural influence; it mostly comes off as bizarre and is not explained in detail.

The main content concern is, of course, violence.  As is to be expected with an action movie, there’s ample amounts of flashy violence–explosions, car chases, etc.  There is also a substantial amount of gang violence and several gun/fistfights.  Gore is not excessive, but there is a moderate horror element to one bad guy’s methodology–he uses a toxin to induce panic in his victims, causing them to imagine the people around them as horrid creatures.  The disturbing nature of this, and the psychological implications of his weapon, provides interesting material for adults but may be a concern for younger audiences.

Interestingly, while Batman claims to be against killing his enemies, he does not appear to have any qualms against causing destruction and chaos.  He blows up the monastery where the mystical group resides, supposedly killing many of them.  He wreaks havoc during some of his escapades, damaging buildings and crashing police cars.  And during the climax [spoiler!] he intentionally leaves the villain in a doomed train.  He’s statement of “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you” makes one wonder just how deep his devotion to saving lives really is.

In the end

The superhero genre was a new experience for me, and I’m still trying to process my reaction to the film.  I was expecting ample violence and also hoping for deep themes to ponder.  I got both, and thankfully the objectionable content in the film was not high enough to muddy it.  I’m not sure yet whether Batman Begins will be a film I enjoy watching repeatedly, or whether it will be a film I watch only a few times and ponder.  But I have decided on one thing–superhero movies may just be worth my time.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight RisesIt has been eight years since that fateful day.

That day, when Harvey Dent’s murders and guilt were taken and put upon Batman’s shoulders. Forcing Bruce Wayne to put away the suit, and become despised and hated by the people of Gotham.

And so, for eight years, Bruce has locked himself away in the Wayne Mansion. Without the drive and purpose of batman, and the grief of losing his beloved Rachel, he sees no one but his faithful butler Alfred.

Until that is, the infamous Catwoman decides to relieve Mr. Wayne of his mother’s pearls. This action spurrs Mr. Wayne to re-enter the world to recover the pearls.

In doing so, he finds a greater evil than any Gotham has ever seen. An evil without mercy, fear, or rules. An evil, intent only on destruction of a city, and the people living within it.
Bane, has come to Gotham.
With the police force outmatched, 12 million people’s live at stake, and to preserve the city he swore to save…

It is time for the Dark Knight to rise from the shadows, and save Gotham from certain destruction.

Things I Liked

If Batman could be described in one word, I would have to say he is solid. Batman’s code does not ever disappoint, nor does it change. No matter what the city has thrown at Batman, his passion as protector of the city is incredibly admirable. The people have nothing to offer him, the city hates him, and yet, he continues to protect it. In the face of certain death his spirit is not broken, showing the quality of perseverance. He is willing to sacrifice himself for the city, not for the city itself, but the people living in it. He is a hero who, while on the surface looks like a vigilante, is one who gives everything for those who can give him back nothing. This biblical trait we see over and over again. Bruce embodies this as well, acting in honorable ways even when not wearing the suit and cape.

Mr. Alfred is the voice of reason in Bruce’s life. He speaks the truth, even when Bruce doesn’t want to hear it. His love for Bruce is incredible to behold. Desperate and even pleading at times, he tries to make Bruce see how dangerous Bane is. Bruce, in his arrogance, ignores him, and we see him take quite a fall. Alfred only wants the best for Bruce, and sees that the only way for that to happen is to put batman behind him. Alfred is loyal, compassionate, and even later, when a conflict arises and he has to leave, he is still as loyal as ever, without any resentment or bitterness. He is a shining example of loving a person unconditionally. And notice? It doesn’t even have to be in a marriage to apply.

Yet another character that stands out with excellent qualities is a man named Jim Gordon. Jim is the police commissioner, and is one of the few common men willing to stand up against the evils bane is unleashing against the city. Even when he is wounded, he still fights from the hospital bed. He is a man however, who has lied to the public about who Harvy Dent really was via instructions from Batman. He is tormented with this guilt of lying daily. He has an opportunity to tell the truth, but doesn’t and because he doesn’t it comes back to haunt him. He has the best intentions for the people at heart, and we see that displayed in his actions.

Evil definitely shown for what it truly is in this movie. Never is it glorified of shown to be something desired. There is no sympathetic appeal. There is justification, but quite flawed, and shown to be such.

Something else, and lastly, is the sheer quality of this movie. The writing, the actors, and how all the movies are tied together… is stunningly epic. This movie is by far the best of three production wise.

Things I Didn’t Like

The Dark Knight may rise in this movie, but so does the violence as well. If the The Dark Knight raised the bar with sadistic murders from the Joker, this movie does even moreso with the sheer brutality of Bane. Bane came from “The Pit” a prison where one survives only by mercilessness and killing. Bane is Batman’s equal, if not superior in physical strength. He demonstrates this any chance he can get. Bane doesn’t use guns. Only his hands. We see him snap many necks, as it seems that is preferred style of killing. He also chokes people to death, smashes faces with anything he has available… It isn’t pretty.
His partners in crime aren’t much better. Having no regard for life, they storm building with automatic weapons, shooting anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in the line of fire.
Catwoman brings a mix of martial arts and guns to the fighting scene. Fighting in self defense, she has no problem shooting a man with his own gun, and often others while he is still holding said weapon.
Batman remains the same in every way. Sticking to his martial arts learned from the league of shadows. Batman manages to keep his rule and not kill one person. He does beat them up pretty badly nonetheless….
Other examples of disturbing violence include people being hung from bridges, sentenced to exile and falling through icy waters below, and huge clash between police and criminals result in many lives being lost and men being gunned down.

There is a dramatic confrontation between batman and bane. Watching punches being landed on the two massive guys made me flinch several times. Batman is beaten up pretty badly, and we see some blood on his head afterwards. That is all the blood I can remember shown. Not much at all.

Bruce, to stifle his pain of losing Rachel, or perhaps, to make himself move on, has a relationship with a woman who is part of Wayne Enterprises. We see them kiss several times, and passionately so. Another scene we see them holding each other covered by a blanket by a fire. They talk about running away, and then the scene cuts out.

Batwoman steals her share of kisses from Batman several times.

There is cussing in the movie, we hear both “B” words, H— is used out of context several times, as is the Lord’s name used in vain. The S word is used as well.

Closing Thoughts

As the last chapter in the batman series, my expectations for this movie were extremely high. In some ways, I am so impressed with this movie and some messages it presents. In other ways though, we are reminded this is indeed a “Hollywood” flick.

I have noticed one reoccurring theme appearing in hollywood movies. It is the question of Fear vs Hope. We’ve seen it in “The Hunger Games”, previous batman movies, and especially this one. Bane says, “I will keep the people fighting for life, by giving them hope. When there is no hope, the fear will destroy them.” People in this movie put their hope in Batman. And Batman is, in literary terms, A christ figure. One who sacrifices everything to save the people of Gotham. They don’t deserve it, and Batman doesn’t have to.
While the fictional Batman is cool,  how much more awesome is it that we can have hope in Christ instead of fear of man? The movie shows the power of hoping in something greater than oneself, it was a reminder to me, we should not fear, because of the hope of Christ that lives in us.

Another thing the movie shows well, is man’s depravity. When Bane takes control of Gotham. He declares “We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please…. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed…. This great city… it will endure. Gotham will survive!”
And utter chaos breaks loose.
What a powerful showing of how desperately wicked man is when there is nothing to hold him back.
Another time Batman tells Catwoman she should help the 12 million innocent people. She says something like “I don’t believe in innocent people.” In a way, she is right. None of Gotham deserved to live. None of them were truly innocent, from a biblical point of view. It hammers home the fact that people are not nice. And given the chance between themselves and someone else… They will probably choose themselves.

To wrap this review up, this movie definitely has it’s redeeming qualities. On the one hand, Batman and his supportive cast are incredible examples of honorable heros. There are some excellent themes to ponder, and to bring up next time you are working with some of your buddies who aren’t christians. And honestly, the movie itself is a beautiful work of cinematic art.
On the other hand, the violence is tough to watch, and Bruce/Batman are involved with women much more in this movie.

So, do I recommend this movie?
I say this with great caution, as I would hate to make any believers stumble in recommending them to watch this movie.
I benefitted from watching The Dark Knight Rises, as I was reminded of how wretched I am as a sinner, and that without Christ, I could have been any one of those men tearing apart Gotham. It moved me to think of a life without hope in Christ, and how sad that would be.
I also know many of my co-workers will be watching this, and I look forward to the chance to bring up topics of hope and depravity.

But do you need to watch this movie to do and be reminded of those things I just mentioned?

I would hope not.

But if you do go and see this movie, I hope you are reminded, and praise God for the gift of hope he sent us through Christ.

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