Good versus evil, wrapped in an orgy of CGI-laden action.
What more can we ask of a summer movie?
Turns out a lot more, as we watch the tragic events in Aurora, Colorado unfold.
Movies are about escapism, but how do you escape the media-saturated horror of a social outcast with a gun? How do you escape a loner determined to join that macabre hall of fame populated by two other notorious Colorado residents, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: the gunmen responsible for the Columbine massacre?
My answer: You go to the movies, specifically “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is a pretty darned good way of not letting the crazies win.
The film opens with what is arguably one of the most stunning set pieces in cinematic history, a plane-on-plane hijacking that involves midair, repelling commandos.
Impressive and laughingly implausible, the scene is great fun and serves to introduce us to the Dark Knight’s new nemesis, a bullet-headed sociopath named Bane.
Bane was born, and spent his formative years in a prison called The Pit, a hellhole (literally) located in an unspecified part of the globe. The Pit is a bleak, godforsaken land reminiscent of Mongolia or perhaps Detroit, Director Christopher Nolan is never really clear on this point.
Nor is he completely clear on why Bane has to wear the strange mask that covers his mouth, nose, and ears, a device that makes him sound like Snidely Whiplash in an echo-chamber.
Nonetheless, the film adequately sets up Bane as the most evil villain ever, as well as a really big meanie-head intent on turning Gotham into a charnel house of other like-minded meanie-heads.
To do this, Bane steals some sort of ray gun/nuclear weapon/cold fusion device created by, (wait for the drum roll) Wayne Enterprises.
In order to prevent the destruction of his beloved city, Bruce Wayne must leave his self-imposed retirement and don the familiar cloak of Batman. So, after several long discussions with Alfred about the meaning of it all and a myriad of mishaps including a brief stay in The Pit, Batman comes around.
He rallies and conquers evil, stopping the carnage in a most spectacular way.
The plot is dense, hard to follow at times. But the visual spectacle and compelling characters carry the viewer, ensuring that the ponderous two-hour, forty-five minute runtime is never boring.
Big, loud, and long, “The Dark Knight Rises” is worth seeing, only if you’re into greatness. Otherwise, skip it. (Tip: don’t skip it.)