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Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection & The Dark Knight Rises

By Howard McQuitter

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)

*

Lionsgate Films, Comedy

Cast: Tyler Perry (Madea/Joel/Brian), Eugene Levy (George Neeedleman), Denise Richards (Kate Needleman), Doris Roberts (Barbara), Percy Romeo Miller(Jake), Devan Leos (Howie). (PG-13) Running time: 114 minutes. Director: Tyler Perry. 

Tyler Perry does it again: Madea (Tyler Perry) in wig, fat suit and a dress at his usual antics now have cloyed.  That doesn’t seem to bother Perry for he’s made his money off of a bad movie.  Besides a few laughs, “Witness Protection” is cumbersome, nonsensical and half-hearted; putting an unenthusiastic red mark on Perry’s franchise.

Eugene Levy plays character George Needleman, big man of a financial fund, that’s been running a Ponzi scheme which other company bosses want to put all the blame in George’s lap.  To avoid scandals and reprisals while investigating the fraud, Brian (Tyler Perry) convinces his Aunt Madea to take in the white family–George,  his wife Kate(Denise Richards), son Jake (Percy Romeo Miller) and conceited daughter Cindy (Danielle Campbell) under witness protection.

I’ve been inclined to cling somewhat to some of Tyler Perry’s movies for–if for no other reason–they epitomize ethnic/racial themes, but “Witness Protection” is probably his sloppiest work.  I hate to think Perry has hit bottom with lousy movies; but he may have hit bottom with “Witness Protection”.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

****

Warner Bros. Action/Fantasy/Adventure/Drama 

Cast: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Joseph Gordan-Levitt (John Blake), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordan), Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Nestor Carbonell (Mayor Anthony Garcia), Cillan Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarcecrow), Liam Neeson (Ra’s Al Ghul), Ben Mendelsohn (Daggett), Michael Caine (Alfred). (PG-13) Running time: 165 minutes. Director: Christopher Nolan. 

Dark Knight is at it for the trilogy, this time Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne,has retired from duty, even to the point of being a recluse, at the brown-stoned Wayne Manor. He has taken the fall for Harvey Dent’s (Aaron Eckhart) death, the new district attorney determined to catch as many big-time criminals and then sending them to prison.  Dent dies in the last movie “The Dark Knight”(2008) trying to collar the mob, a perfect ending for the sequel.

While Bruce Wayne is out of the public seeing only faithful Alfred (Michael Caine) at the stony manor until crafty, witty cat burglar/Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) invades Bruce and Alfred’s castle upstages Bruce’s recluse life. Caught in the act of stealing from the safe, she has the movie’s central warnings for Bruce.  “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne,” Anne says,  in a measured voice,  “you and your friends better batten down the hatches, ‘cause when it hits, you’re gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.”

Bane (Tom Hardy) becomes Batman’s principal nemesis, a man with a mouth guard that looks like a wrestler with the AWA (American Wrestling Association).  He’s not the jewel of an antagonist as the late Heath Ledger’s “Joker”, but “Bane” is serviceable at least, if not pretty good.

Not that “The Dark Knight Rises” is bovine–it isn’t–Anne Hathaway’s character though maintains a colorful personality engendering even a more energetic and adventurous movie.  But even here, this third attempt by Nolan on “Batman” is the weakest of the three movies.  I again go back to Hathaway’s Catwoman –she really saves the movie from mere perfunctory matter.

As the turmoil in Gotham City (the third Batman moves from Chicago [the real Gotham City] to New York) ascends again to new heights, Commissioner Jim Gordan (Gary Oldman) is forced again to clash with the criminals.  The politics in “Rises” is more amorphous than in “The Dark Knight”, although both have a Dickensian mood of class warfare in “A Tale of Two Cities” symbolic of Occupation Wall Street.

Eight years later spans between events in “The Dark Knight” and “Rises”.  In the former movie an impeccable Dent goes bad getting cut down before the movie’s end sending Bruce Wayne into a hiatus of mea culpas.  A tranquil city upstaged (in “Rises”) by the villain Bane and his gang hide out  in the sewers of Gotham City gives rise to headaches for Batman, Gordan and a new young detective John Blake (Joseph Gordan-Levitt).

Nolan does continue to make his third “Batman” thrilling, dark and booming with intrigue at least through much of the movie.  Yet, “Rises” has some magnificent scenes  rising, then falling somewhat, raw–less than the “Dark Knight” in total quality, but in Christopher Nolan’s last dance with “Batman”, well, he had a good run with all three Batman movies.

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