Well technical problems have hindered my enjoyment of MLP:FiM (in lieu of flowers, send donations to the Derpy institute for self-esteem) so it’s time to review a movie I’m sure both of my fans were awaiting.
The Dark Knight Rises is a small independent film released by first time director Tim Burton and is about an original character, Wuce Bayne – a well-adjusted child taking care of his parents in their old age and…
Hang on, I’ve seem to have mixed up my notes.
Batman Begins was a breath of fresh air after the depressing slate of previous Batman movies. It set the standards of fans and audience members high.
The Dark Knight obliterated those standards and set new ones so high that Orson Wells’ zombie rose from his grave to shake Nolan’s hand.
So how could #3 be anything but a letdown?
BECAUSE IT’S DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN – THAT’S HOW!
Spoiler Free Review: If you enjoyed the first two, go see this. Though you may want to watch the previous two movies for a refresher. With this film, we can say this wasn’t a trilogy but a single movie split in three parts. However, it’s not great in the same way the previous movie was great (it’s a different flavor). #2 was great in that, if Batman had never existed before that movie, if no one had ever heard of him, the movie STILL works as near mythical art. #3 does work better if you are familiar with the Batty mythos and it does require the previous two films. Movie2 was a great movie period, movie3 is one long fanservice (and I don’t just mean Ann Hathaway though… she is nice).
I am also VERY appreciative that they made Bane intelligible and cleaned up Christian Bale’s Batman voice (it’s still different, but not as ear-grating). As someone who has trouble with their hearing and distinguishing words, I was grateful I didn’t need subtitles this time.
One other clue about this movie: If you’re a pretty decent Batman fan, this movie will have no surprises for you. But trust me, you’ll still want to shout “I knew it!” and the payoff is still worth it. Fans of the movies who aren’t familiar with the mythos, might actually be surprised. So keep that in mind on whether you read ahead or not.
This is a great movie, but boy do you feel the absence of Heath Ledger’s Joker at times. The echoes and tie-ins this movie has to the plots of the previous end the trilogy with a bookended structure: 1 2 21. As the movie goes on, the references and call backs to the previous movie grow fewer until you can almost forget it. However, the plot of Bane & Co is to reduce the city to anarchy (I think) and that the Joker has no role in this chaos just feels wrong.
That is my biggest complaint about this movie (and maybe it will be clearer on repeat viewings) but what was the ultimate goal of the villains? In the first movie it was to drive the city insane and tear it apart. In the second… Joker didn’t really have a plan (as befitting him). No really, think about it a moment. What would have happened in the long run had one or both of the boats blown up? Riots in the streets? The toppling of city government? We don’t know – that’s the essence of chaos and that was the Joker’s goal: to get the least predictable result. What’s the goal here? To reduce the city to anarchy and a terror like revolutionary France seems to be it, but then why the bomb? Yes it was handy for keeping outside interference at bay, but it seems the villains were going to let it detonate at the end regardless. So… why wait 5 months? Or were they going to stabilize it and then move it around for another 5 months?
And why permit the long countdown timer? Because we have to have the “Bat broken and reborn” storyline that always arises when Bane is involved; something that I really wish Nolan had changed for the movie. Of everything, this strained my disbelief the most. We start out the movie seeing Bruce physically broken to begin with. Assuming his doctor had an accurate diagnosis (and Bruce didn’t provide fake results), the man should be even worse off than the Bruce of Batman Beyond. Indeed, we see him bring back some of the limb braces & aids that we saw briefly in the Dark Knight. But then Bane breaks his back, and dumps Bruce (clearly without his braces) in a prison. But then he heals and starts walking again??? With a broken back ON TOP OF previous injuries? We can barely fix broken backs now with modern medicine, how did a prison doc do it? (He didn’t have Tony with A BOX OF SCRAPS either.)
Last complaint: while I didn’t mind Batman fighting Bane in a semi-boxing match the first time (it made a sort of sense), I was disappointed that’s how he did it the second. I would have preferred to see Batman fight and strike more strategically. Especially since Bane surprised Bruce on grounds of the former’s choosing at first, Batman being able to fight on grounds HE is choosing for the second would have been a great chance to show Batman as the great tactical brain as well as brawn.
What worked in the movie? E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. else.
Some have also talked about the politics of the movie. While I might often agree with Jonah Goldberg (and I’m picking on him because I’ll have more to say about that link in the future), like previous movies, the only “politics” and “issues” in this one are the ones you bring with you. For instance, one handy way I’ve found for distinguishing views (at least in America, your mileage may vary by country) is to see who the person/people voicing them dehumanize. Right-wing (libertarian, anarchist, conservatives, etc) tend to not think of government workers, police, soldiers, etc as people. Meanwhile left-wing (communists, fascists, liberals, etc) tend to dehumanize the rich, corporations and their ilk. In this movie, both groups are victimized by the villains and both are shown as people. This movie is a little uncomfortable in the way it reminds us (ALL of us) that injustice doesn’t become just when it is done to people we don’t like.
Michael Caine, after having fairly minor roles in the previous two, really lets loose in this one. He may have only two major scenes, but dammit if the man won’t make you cry in both of them.
Ann Hathaway – damn.
I was disappointed that Tom Hardy never got to take off the Bane mask, but he does a lot with his eyes and body.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is AWESOME, and makes you almost wish that we were getting a fourth movie with him, Christian Bale and Ann Hathaway all running around as one big crime-fighting family.
Awesome moments all around, though none quite as jaw-dropping as Batman’s escape from the skyscraper in movie 2.
It’s also interesting how much of the plot in this movie can be considered a rebuttal to the previous one.
But I may have to save that for a later day. After some more viewings. 😉