Written by: Cooper Aspergen
“The Dark Knight Rises”
Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” trumps “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” with its rich level of political relevance and narrative sophistication. Christian Bale returns for the final time a criminally excommunicated Batman, grieving over the loss of his loved ones and his failure to save District Attorney Harvey Dent from insanity and violence. It requires the masked mercenary Bane (“Inception’s” Tom Hardy) and sly cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) to launch the Caped Crusader’s reappearance. While no villain can replicate the manipulative lunacy and symbolic brilliance that the late Heath Ledger’s Joker exemplified in this film’s predecessor, “The Dark Knight,” Bane provides an equally menacing substitute. Perhaps some viewers will dislike the level of preposterousness that comes with the high stakes and plot intricacy. However, “The Dark Knight Rises” clearly transcends the efforts of all its current comic-book movie contemporaries.
Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” serves as compelling prequel to the director’s classic “Alien,” maintaining the latter’s sense of tone and dread. Two scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) discover an ancient star map, sparking a space expedition that merits heavy implications for their understanding of humanity and immortality. The film’s descent into darkness comes with almost as much suspense as its eighties predecessor. Standouts among the cast include Rapace, Marshall-Green and Michael Fassbender as the android David. Those expecting “Prometheus” to be a mere tent-pole blockbuster may end up disappointed, as the film thrives much more on its intelligence than on the standard action-heavy theatrics that plague similar films with a $130 million budget.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” brims with the life-like naturalism of a documentary. The overarching plot of the film concerns the destitute community of an “island” off the coast of New Orleans. After a flood, a small group of locals refuse to evacuate, banding together to ensure their own independence and survival. The film’s almost light-hearted spiritualism undercuts the gravity of the Bathtub residents’ predicament; it’s remarkable how effectively this film can fluctuate from stirring cheerfulness to poignant emotionality. Occasionally, the film’s overarching ambition devolves into a slight level of pretentiousness, but nonetheless, Beasts of the Southern Wild exceeds the bounds of similarly independent fare and can be counted among this summer’s essential viewings.