Nate watches “The Dark Knight Rises”

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.

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SPOILERS!

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. 😉

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7 thoughts on “Nate watches “The Dark Knight Rises”

  1. I disagree with grouping conservatives with with libertarians and anarchist, but otherwise–
    Ho. Ly. Cow!
    It was an awesome comic book in movie format! Everything that caught my eye on the way in made perfect sense if I went “comic book?” and looked for that kind of reason.

    • Well everything is on a spectrum. Conservatives won’t dehumanize as many as libertarians (for example) but do tend to do so to government workers. Same with the other side.

      But yes, it was awesome.

  2. I completely agree that the villains plan was… confusing to work out. I still have no idea what their ultimate goal was. I guess to destroy the city, but… yeah, why wait five months? Maybe they didn’t know any other way to do it. Or maybe Bane just wanted Batman to have to watch his city descend into chaos for five months. I dunno.

    On politics, I have to agree with you. A lot of people are going to (and have already) try to put politics in it, the same as they did in TDK. But I don’t think there was any particular political slant that Nolan was putting in, other than possibly that you shouldn’t treat people in charge (both big financial types and police) poorly simply because you don’t like them.

    I’ve been trying to work out what the theme of the movie is. Somebody suggested hope (Bane says he wants to give the people of Gotham that horrible ray of hope to make them desperate, the pit prison is pretty much the definition of that, etc.), but I think there’s also a bit of, well, complacency. At the beginning, Bruce Wayne really doesn’t care that much. He assumes everything will work out fine and leaves everything to its own devices, and this complancency lets Miranda Tate take over his company, lets Bane take his fortune, even gives Bane access to Lucius’ secret vault of Bat-things. If Bruce had been more proactive–even if it was only as Bruce Wayne, not Batman–he probably could’ve stopped all of that.

    That’s why I can forgive the magical back healing (still better than Shondra Kinsolving…), because it fits with the whole overcoming complacency thing.

    Anyway, on characters… I’m a Catwoman fan. A super mega huge Catwoman fan. And the entire time Anne Hathaway was onscreen, I was (silently) squeeing “KITTY!” Because it was SO HER. She was PERFECT.

    Tom Hardy was great as Bane. He had this very refined menace, which was perfect for the role. You can almost imagine Bane sitting down and having some tea with one hand and snapping someone’s neck with the other. Ra’s al Ghul couldn’t even pull that one off in BB–he had the refined part, but not the physical menace side.

    And JGL was awesome. I’m actually quite pleased he never officially was Batman or Robin in the bulk of the film. It let him be his own character, without people assuming he’s Dick or Jason or Tim (although he did combine my favorite bits of those three… Jason’s street kid backstory, Tim’s cleverness and figuring out who Batman is, and Dick’s extreme hotness. Did I say that out loud?).

    Basically, I loved it, even if TDK was probably better and the plot didn’t always make a lot of sense.

    • I completely agree that the villains plan was… confusing to work out.

      Sadism.
      He was hurt in the pit, so he wanted to force this entire city of easy-to-hate -because-they-have-it-easy people to suffer similarly. Getting those outside the city to act as guards both kept them from doing a rescue and put salt in the wound. Punishing Batman worked well in that– and you-know-who was working to make sure any dagger possible was used and twisted in Bat’s side.
      It’s the same impulse that breaks windows and spraypaints curses on church walls, but writ large.
      A…not exactly sane, given the damaged world view, but a mentally steady and coherent version of the Joker’s goal.
      Didn’t use to make a lot of sense to me, then I met people who really do take the view that if they hurt, everyone else should have to hurt.

      I think you’re right about the theme– with great power comes great responsibility, I suppose, just the flip side.

      Agree with you about Catwoman; she was a cat, not a bunny in black leather. Just…wow. I kept telling my husband on the way out: “They get it! They understand the Batman group! They GET it!”

      And you’re quite right about the little cop being adorable– I had no idea that was going to be “Robin.”

      • I think you mean SHE was hurt in the pit. 😉

        Remember, Talia was the true villain and Bane was just her “puppet” (well, I hate using that word because it doesn’t do them justice). Though I’m sure she allowed him some latitude in his duties.

      • I figure that he “helped” a lot in planning things, what with being a father figure and all– the damage done to him is at least part of the motivation.

        Villains that love– something that’s not very common.

  3. “With this film, we can say this wasn’t a trilogy but a single movie split in three parts.”

    Well, that’s what a true trilogy is. But I guess that’s debatable.

    “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?”

    As far as I can tell, the villains (both Bane and Talia) goal was:

    A. Make Batman suffer.
    B. Make the people of Gotham suffer.
    C. Kill them both, after they have suffered as much as possible.

    Pretty much everything they do up through the 2nd act of the movie plays into those goals pretty well. However, once Batman shows up again, I really started to wonder why they didn’t just blow the damn thing up and be done with it. I can only assume Talia and/or Bane insisted on Bruce knowing exactly who was doing this to him, and why. But then, as Batman says, they waited too long to pull the trigger, not to mention underestimating Batman’s allies.

    How satisfactory all this is as a plan and execution of the plan, will vary from person to person. While I find it a bit flawed, it doesn’t hurt the movie too much for me.

    “I was disappointed that Tom Hardy never got to take off the Bane mask, but he does a lot with his eyes and body.”

    Technically, you do see his face briefly in one of the flashbacks, but his voice and presence are what sell the character.

    “It’s also interesting how much of the plot in this movie can be considered a rebuttal to the previous one.”

    I know, right? TDK ends with Batman and Gordon making a last minute plan to save Harvey Dent’s image, and almost this whole movie is about how that blows up in their faces. I’m still not sure whether we are supposed to believe the deception was all worth it or not, or maybe that’s supposed to be up to the viewer?

    “This is a great movie, but boy do you feel the absence of Heath Ledger’s Joker at times.”

    Unfortunately, we’ll never know what could have been, but I somehow doubt the Joker would have played too big a role in this movie even if Heath Ledger had been available to reprise the role. I could maybe see him taking Crane’s place as the judge in the fake court (a nice nod to the animated series), but not much more than that. Assuming they stick with Bane as the “main” villain, Joker would be too much of a distraction and overshadow the plot. It’s like if they made a Final Fantasy game with both Kefka and Sephiroth as the…….I’m sorry, my head just exploded. Anyway, if Joker were to be involved as a major villain, it would require a MAJOR revision to the entire movie.

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