|The Dark Knight Rises, Part 2|
As I mentioned in the last blog, I invited Pastor Seth Pierce, author of What We Believe for Teens and Daniel for Teens, to share his perspective on the newest Batman movie in two parts. If you missed part 1, you can read it and comment on it here.
***On another note, I (Melanie) will be at the Hope, British Columbia campmeeting this Sunday, July 29th for the auditorium book sale and a book signing. I would LOVE to meet you, so if you're going to be there, come say hello!***
...and now, part 2 of Pastor Seth Pierce's review of The Dark Knight Rises:
Pastor Seth Pierce
The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the previous movie. Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) resides in a self imposed exile due to the grief and abuse he has experienced as the Caped Crusader. He haunts a secluded wing of his palatial estate. Gotham city is experiencing a time of peace due to the citizens rallying around the death of former District Attorney Harvey Dent. Dubbed the “Gotham’s White Knight,” Dent was Gotham’s hope of cleaning up all the organized crime. However, at the end of the previous film, Dent was corrupted and became the nefarious villain Two Face. He died while trying to kill Commissioner Gordon’s family. In order to preserve his pure image, and give the citizens of Gotham a rallying point, Batman took the fall and became a villain in the eyes of the people. In other words, the peace Gotham is experiencing is built on a lie.
Enter Bane—a brutal terrorist who seeks to expose the lie and burn Gotham to ashes.
Will Batman return?
Will Batman survive if he does?
Can Gotham be saved—or is it too wicked to be left standing?
Redemption is the biggest theme. Bruce Wayne needs redemption from his past—and even from his creation of Batman. Bruce suffers from depression over what he has lost and from what he has seen. His faithful butler—Alfred—tries to point Bruce down a path that will allow him to leave Batman behind and perhaps start a family.
Gotham is also perpetually sick with criminal activity. Catwoman—also trying to find redemption from a life of thievery (SPOILER ALERT: she is after the “clean slate” a computer program that will clean her record and give her a fresh start)—tells Bruce: “you don’t owe these people anymore.” In other words, they have chosen their path let them suffer.
Despite the brokenness of the people, Bruce Wayne is willing to sacrifice himself to save them. This echoes the passage in Romans that says, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV).
There is also a strong political theme to the movie. Director Chris Nolan looks at the “Occupy Movement” –which is a protest against the wealthy for not better distributing what they have.
Finally the theme of honesty is explored. It is okay to lie for someone’s protection? Are there consequences to “white lies?”
Sexual Content and Drug Use
I didn’t see so much as a cigarette in this film. As far as sexual content, the most that is shown is Bruce and a lady friend lying by the fire completely covered in blankets—except for Bruce Wayne’s muscular chest. I’m sure that might excite somebody, but it’s pretty tame. A couple passionate kisses occur but they are done in the context of looming danger—more in the context of sadness then sensuality.
Bane versus The Joker
Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his groundbreaking—and highly disturbing—portrayal of The Joker. Naturally this has audiences wondering how the new villain will match up. Is Bane as disturbing and destructive as the Joker?
Bane is big and brutal.
He is a master terrorist that wreaks havoc on a scale the Joker never did in the previous movie. However his violence is more conventional—blowing things up, fist fights, and breaking necks. The Joker’s violence had a much deeper psychological effect to it than Bane’s.
Bane’s massive strength and relentless fighting style in the comic books resulted in his being the only villain ever to have “broken the bat.” He is not to be taken lightly. His mask also gives a weird metallic resonance to his voice—comparable to Darth Vader.
Lots of it.
While it is not very bloody (save a scene towards the beginning featuring a blood transfusion, but that is more medical in context) –it is brutal. Bane’s preferred modus operandi is twisting necks. However the film makers don’t zoom in or add unnecessary gore or sound effects. People are shot, caught in explosions, and punched in the face—but it’s on such a massive scale that we seldom get a chance to dwell on a particular scene. It feels more like a war movie. The violence isn’t glorified—rather it fits the story and the characters. Even scripture contains references to extreme violence, especially in light of the Great Controversy:
“And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia” (Revelation 14:20).
By far the most disturbing scene is Bane’s hanging of three Special Forces who try to take him down. You don’t’ see the hanging itself, but we see three silhouettes being waved around the city from construction cranes via a television monitor. The shot is brief, but it is the only time where the violence is on par with The Dark Knight.
I will say, in terms of context, that this movie portrays evil as evil and good as good. This is a clear narrative about a terrorist organization and the heroes who take a stand to stop them. Batman never breaks his “one rule”—he doesn’t kill. He even warns Catwoman in one scene, “No guns—no killing” as they engage bad guys. This is an interesting contrast to the villainous Bane who kills with no remorse.
This is a solid PG-13 movie and it never ceases to amaze me that people bring kids as young as 6 to these things. While the violent content fits clearly within the context of good vs. evil—the imagery will be disturbing to some Christian viewers. I can’t recommend the film to a younger audience—just as I would not recommend some parts of the Bible for younger children (such as certain parts of Leviticus, Judges, and Song of Solomon). For parents I would suggest taking teens that can have an intelligent discussion of the themes presented in the film—instead of just being wowed by the special effects.
The film is extremely well put together, smart, and closes off the Batman Trilogy with a very satisfying ending. I have been a Batman fan since I was a little kid and felt the film stayed true to its source material. Use caution and good common sense should you choose to see the film and always discuss the themes of whatever you see and hold them up the light of scripture.