The Dark Knight Rises – An Okay Film

I saw The Dark Knight Rises. It was so-so. Batman’s bat voice seemed more ridiculous than usual. Bane’s voice was, as far as I could tell, done by German Sean Connery.

Spoilers below.

(Source)

I can’t exactly pin down what was missing from this movie. I think the film leaned too heavily on a message, and that message is a shitty one. At every turn, we seemed to be confronted with the fact that all legal authority is powerless, and we should only trust vigilantes. We’ve got Gordon saying that the law becomes shackles on the police in some cases, we’ve got the President refusing to send in help for the people of Gotham, we’ve got a set of cops outside Gotham blowing up a bridge even though I thought it was common knowledge that the bomb was going to go off in a certain time-set anyway, and we’ve got the Gotham police as, uh, sort of bumbling idiots, really. It’s heavy-handed and distracting. I’m not here for political science theory – show me Batman doing some serious Batmanning all over the place.

And never, ever show me anything like this again. (Source)

And some Batmanning happens. But the movie as a whole is kind of disjointed. There’s a point where Batman is throw into a pit in some Middle Eastern desert place after Bane has kicked his ass. He has to learn how to walk again – one of his vertebrae has slipped out? Which I guess can be fixed by some guy punching you real hard? Earlier in the film we see that Batman’s knee hurts – I wonder if Alfred could have just punched his knee and made it better.

We spend too much time in that pit. Did we really need Batman to train super hard and climb out of pit like a child did? That’s part of what annoyed me. Only a child has ever escaped! Look how badass Batman is, doing something a child did! It didn’t feel right.

Also, once he was free of the pit, how did Batman get back into Gotham? If he got in, why didn’t he show the military how to get in. The city could use all the help it could get. But no, just Batman, walking around like it’s no big thing, immediately finding Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway, filling the Catwoman role).

In general, Batman didn’t do a lot of detective work. Gathering intel was something that played into the first movie, if I recall correctly. He went around interrogating people, right? He hung that fat cop upside down? In The Dark Knight Rises, he grows questions at people while attacking them but it doesn’t feel like he’s particularly intelligent. It feels like he just does things so that the plot can happen.

He immediately trusts Selina Kyle, even though he knows she is a thief who works for the evil corporation man who is trying to take over Wayne Enterprises (the same guy who brought Bane to Gotham). Batman also doesn’t really look at all angles of the situation, which is, uh, very un-Batman. I know he’s been out of the Batman game for eight years, but I thought that meant the physical game. He doesn’t keep up on anything else? He did literally nothing for eight years? The key aspect of Batman’s personality is that he’s obsessive. He’s Sherlock Holmes, taken to a monomaniacal edge (well, even moreso than Holmes). He’s a crime-fighter, and if he’s not able to fight crime, I still think he’d keep a close eye on what was going on in the underworld of Gotham.

Holy shit, best crossover film ever? (Source)

And the ending! Wayne Manor is now a home for orphans. And that cop who becomes the new Batman – or who, I think, we’re supposed to assume becomes the new Batman, even though he has no martial arts training, and he might not be able to access Bruce Wayne’s computer system, and he doesn’t know how to drive those future-tanks or that future-helicopter – that new cop-Batman guy, he uses the cave underneath Wayne Manor. Now, that cop was an orphan too, and he claims to know that Wayne was Batman because he looked like he was wearing a mask to convince people he wasn’t “angry, in your bones.”

So, uh, I guess my problem is this – when new cop-Batman is ready to hang up the bat-mask, is he just going to take an orphan from Wayne Manor above and train him? It seems like only orphans get to be Batman, and cop-Batman has a whole house full of orphans to pick. It made me feel like Batman might prey on orphans. Uncomfortable.

It feels like a new kind of League of Shadows. Maybe cop-Batman will train a bunch of orphans to fight criminals. Maybe they see that they can’t literally punch crime into oblivion, and turn to manipulating society in an effort to control crime. Maybe, down the road, their secret society gets really dark and turns to nefarious means.

But that’s not a fair critique of the film. That’s just a bunch of nonsense, but it did give me something to think about towards the end of the film.

And the cops! Oh man, the cops of Gotham. They are the worst. They get trapped underground, which may not be their fault, even though all three thousand of them go into the sewers. They didn’t need anyone to stay behind to deal with, I don’t know, drunk drivers? Domestic disputes? The general day-to-day criminal activity in any city? In any case, once they’re down there, they just, uh, stay. They don’t try to get out. They just accept supplies sent to them and stay put. In five months, I’m willing to bet a concerted effort of three thousand people could move some rubble, enough to get out. Again, things just happen for the plot.

Good parts: holy shit, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was amazing.

Seriously. I would watch a Catwoman film with her as the star. (Source)

She played just the right amount of anger at the system and playing jokes off of Bale’s grim Batman. There just wasn’t enough of her in the film! Though why she wears high heels I don’t understand. That was stupid. But I also really liked that no one ever called her Catwoman. It’s a great role, and Hathaway fucking rules in it. I only ever knew Hathaway from posters for movies like The Princess Diaries and the Princess Diaries 2 and The Devil Wears Prada. I’ve never seen her act before, is my point. But man, can she ever act.

Gary Oldman, however, is one of my favorite actors, and as Gordon he is fantastic, as usual. My favorite part is where he’s in the hospital, and the power goes out. Immediately, Gordon assumes this is going to be an issue, so he gets up out of bed and prepares for the worst. We don’t see it on screen, but what he does is wait for the two men who have been sent by Bane to kill him, then Gordon kills them. The cop-who-becomes-Batman-later is running through the hospital to save Gordon, and he sprints to the room when he hears gunshots. He bursts into the room, takes two steps in – and sees two dead bodies just as Gordon puts a gun to his head and says “Always clear the corners, rookie,” or something close to that. It’s a great moment.

“Hold it! I’m about to be awesome.” (Source)

However, especially towards the end, things just kind of happen. There’s a lot of fights and chaos and none of it had me emotionally attached. It didn’t feel dangerous. I don’t care if all of Gotham gets destroyed – because I don’t know all of Gotham, or particularly care about them. I had some trouble caring about Batman, too, because his human side – Alfred – was missing. Alfred leaves in a really painful moment. I felt that. The movie, right at that moment, had me tied in. It was down to earth, and human, and I really, honestly felt for Alfred. He’s done all he can, and he basically begs Bruce Wayne to forget Batman, because Alfred knows that if Wayne puts the suit on, he loses Bruce. In fact, almost all the emotional impact of the movie came from Alfred, and he was missing for most of the film. That’s a problem.

The rest of the emotion came from: one, the Talia/Bane relationship, which was well done but took such a long time to get to that once we knew it, the movie was basically ending and Bane was minutes away from death; and two, Selina Kyle.

I don’t have much to say about the Talia/Bane relationship. Actually, I don’t think I really like what it does to Ra’s al Ghul, Talia’s father. It makes him look stupid. He was the leader of the League of Shadows, but he couldn’t find a way to use Bane for his own purposes? It retroactively makes me respect him less. That isn’t good. But, for The Dark Knight Rises, Talia’s connection to Bane makes sense and is powerful. I felt for Bane. He saves this child from the worst prison imaginable and is irrevocably injured in the process. Then she returns with her father and saves him, but she’s a member of the League of Shadows now. He tried to help her escape the darkness, but as soon as she escaped, it swallowed her whole. Bane is almost a tragic hero; but there’s the whole madness and terrorism and murder to prevent that.

I wish he looked like this in the movie. (Source)

But Selina Kyle! Great character. She’s a thief because the system doesn’t work for her, doesn’t help her at all. We don’t know much about her backstory, but she has a friend who certainly seems to rely on her, and both of them appear to be from less-than-perfect circumstances. She wants to bring the system down because she sees how corrupt it is (and this makes her a great foil to Gordon, who has supported the system while knowing it is based on lies). But, when Bane does bring the system down, we get to clearly see that Selina is deeply affected by what happens. She wanted to system fixed, and instead it has been perverted. People are being murdered, lives are destroyed. She didn’t want this. She grows as a character, and I’ve already gushed enough about Hathaway, but daaaaaamn does she pull it off exactly right.

Overall: I’m glad I saw it, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the other two films. This film could easily be half an hour to forty-five minutes shorter. The script needed another rewrite, so that we don’t have to have a five month time jump, because the film loses all immediacy right there.

Worth seeing, don’t expect something amazing.

Unless this is amazing to you, which it should be.

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About seansynthetic

"...so I says the the guy, I says to him, 'No, YOU ain't allowed back into this Chuck-E-Cheese.'"

Posted on July 26, 2012, in Movie Review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. “Hold it! I’m about to be awesome.” That made me laugh really hard. Gary Oldman is also one of my favorite actors! The quote is funny, because when it comes to Oldman, it’s more often than not true!

  2. im pretty sure the cat woman performance was the best thing about the movie. I even loved the music they played for her parts! So awesome. But her story (like the rest of the stories in this movie) felt squished and rushed and not told great. I actually saw an article somewhere that claimed bane’s performance was better than the joker’s. What acting? We couldnt even see bane’s face, and that voice just wasnt cutting it.
    And how about when they threw in the scarecrow for 30 seconds (as the judge of that kangaroo court)? Just a mess. There was this weird anti-communism message too.. as bane “freed the oppressed” and encouraged “governing by the people”.. before blowing them all up with a nuke.
    i dont regret seeing it… but im kind of not sad that the christian bale batmans are over… because im pretty sure it only gets worse from here.

    • Yeah, I think this was a good place to stop. Deegan actually brought up a good point in his own review (http://mfhbff.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/the-dark-knight-rises-as-far-as-it-can/), which is that Christopher Nolan likely wanted the Joker to be the main villain in the third film. Since Heath Ledger died, Nolan basically couldn’t tell the story he wanted to tell, and the Dark Knight Rises suffers from that.

      I kind of liked the Scarecrow appearance – he’s the only villain who keeps showing up in all three films. Talk about perseverance.

      And Catwoman’s story being rushed and poorly told – I agree. I also think that this plays into how good Anne Hathaway was. She brought a lot to the Catwoman role and made the character feel like a full character, and she wasn’t working with much.

      • i was thinking that too.. joker wouldv been the perfect villain to add continuity. And the first two movies felt like they had strong direction and nolan knew exactly where they were going and then this one was just all over the place.

        I wouldv loved to have seen more scarecrow, but his appearance felt really insignicant to me like they were just saying “look we put him in!” when you can just imagine the havoc he’d be causing and complicating the whole situation. Had bane been an incredibly captivating villain, i probably wouldnt care about that.

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