Friday, December 28, 2012

Roosevelt Island's Role in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

We finally saw "The Dark Knight Rises," the third installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. The film provides a fitting ending to the series, even if it suffered from the same problems as the earlier movies  an overstuffed story, excessive running time, and a fluidity between scenes that make you feel like you're watching a long, unpunctuated montage (BuboBlog Rating: 3 asterisks out of 4).

Anyway, I was excited to see many New York landmarks in the film. In fact, it was a little too easy to spot New York landmarks, considering the city is supposed to be a mythical Gotham. (In the previous movies, Chicago stood in for the city, so suddenly switching to the Big Apple seems a bit sloppy.)

Some exteriors were also shot in Pittsburgh and downtown Los Angeles, which serves surprisingly often as a substitute for East Coast cities. has a great rundown of all the places featured in "Dark Knight," including Wollaton Hall in the English Midlands (serving as Wayne Manor), the Trump Tower entrance (Wayne Enterprises), the JPMorgan Building (Gotham's stock exchange) and Jodhpur, India (the outside of Bane's underground prison).

I was most interested in the parts of the movie shot around Midtown, the Queensboro Bridge and our own humble Roosevelt Island. In this scene, you look across the bridge toward Manhattan, with the Citigroup Center (now known as 601 Lexington Avenue) and the MetLife Building visible in the distance. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings are over to the left side, though blurry enough to look like generic towers.

Below is a shot facing the Upper East Side. It appears that the Roosevelt Island tram has been erased digitally, or at least they filmed the movie in a way that obscured it. I feel like if Gotham really existed, it would have a tram (they're kooky like that)  though it probably wouldn't be a friendly shade of red. (Spider-Man, who lives in the real New York, battled the Green Goblin on the Roosevelt Island tram in the first of the Sam Raimi films.)

Warning: spoilers ahead. Here, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is helping kids flee "the island" of Gotham (Manhattan) to escape a nuclear bomb. The island is said to have a population of 12 million people, which would make Gotham MUCH larger and more densely populated than New York. (Manhattan has 1.6 million residents and a daytime population of about 3.7 million. Brooklyn has 2.5 million residents.)

Here you get a nice view of the Bat plane flying past Roosevelt Island and the Con Ed power plant in the Long Island City area of Queens. The Roosevelt Island bridge has been destroyed, though the rest looks largely untouched. You can see my apartment complex midway down the isle.

In the distance, much of Queens and the Bronx has been digitally removed, letting the East River open up into the ocean, or "the Bay" as it's referred to in the film. (This photo gives you a sense of what was removed.) That allows Batman to dump the nuclear bomb a few miles off shore. Here you can just see the mushroom cloud on the horizon.

No one seems to worry about all those radioactive isotopes washing up on Gotham afterwards.