Movie Review: Dark Knight Rises

Apologies for the  scattered posts. Still in transition. Still no internet at the apartment.

The Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger’s final acting role, is probably my favorite super hero movie ever. Ledger captured a Joker I didn’t believe possible. But this isn’t about that movie. It’s about the next one.

Note: anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, and wishes to, please do not read this. It details the movie and will ruin many surprises.

Quick overview with a few spoilers: Bruce Wayne shoved the Batman persona in the closet after his  girlfriend blew up, and for eight years he’s locked himself in his manor. Catwoman comes along and steals his mother’s pearls (and his fingerprints) and Bruce goes on an investigation. Long story short, Bruce has an admirer in a Gotham Police officer, Catwoman plays a part in framing Bruce for selling Wayne Enterprises, and Bane, some Luchadore-looking british dude ends up taking over Gotham. Oh, and Bane steals almost all of Batman’s stuff.

Side note: Christopher Nolan, director of all three of these Batman movies, is also the director of Inception, a clever, limited-view movie about hacking–and stealing information from–dreams. He has no interest in directing any more Batman-universe movies.

Plot: Complex. Lagging in pace. Most of this movie is setup for Bane and Wayne’s lagging sense of interest for the community. He has given up, and Nolan picks up the daunting task of re-igniting Batman’s flame. Unfortunately, consistency issues abound. At the beginning of the movie, Wayne is walking with a cane and a limp, which is fixed by some kind of undetectable hydraulic brace, and then disappears for the rest of the movie. As the viewer, you’re expected to forget he ever had the limp in the first place, and assume Bane doesn’t do anything with the brace after a *cough* encounter. The Bane backstory is holed from the start–an astute observer will notice they said Bane’s face was irrevocably disfigured, while the individual escaping the pit has face intact. Nolan tried–and failed–to sell details about some mystery aspects of Bane’s background.

Characterization: Wayne is consistently emo, self-destructive. Alfred is insightful and harried, as usual. Hathaway was a terrible choice for Catwoman–she had the look, I guess, but exhibited a “Princess Diaries” princess-to-pauper mentality. She acted as if she wanted to return to somewhere she once was and had grown envious of not having it. She didn’t have the physical flexibility required for the part, which led to closeup shots of her legs above her head, and although she was suitably cold and dedicated to petty thievery, she shared absolutely no chemistry with Wayne. Wayne wanted to fix her. She wanted to get away with as much as she could. Blah. Neither had interest in each other, personally. Drake, the police officer, stole the show: having dedicated himself to the “protect and serve” mentality, followed orders even though, repeatedly, he disagreed with them. Commissioner Gordon also gave an incredible performance, as usual: pragmatic, charismatic, wily. Finally, Bane  exemplified an intellectual evil sitting almost exactly opposite of Joker. Where Joker created the chaos he believed in, Bane created obsessive order and totalitarianism.

Also, Evil Villain Girl death was laughably overdramatic.

Setting: I sat in front of a father/son duo that belched, farted, screeched laughter, and bellowed pseudointellectual commentary throughout the movie. Wait, movie setting: Gotham is cold, its people a direct social commentary on American, and perhaps Western society as a whole: rich people trying to remove wealth/power from the poor; dedicated, hardworking people being replaced by Good Ol’ Boys; Bane’s uprising striking surprisingly similar to an Occupy Wall Street gone terribly militant. With all that said, Nolan still failed to pound the notion home. While Bane was suitably extreme in his reaction to the oppression of a lethargic government, his means to control (Wayne Enterprises’ nuclear fission project) was a little over the top, even for my taste. Any sympathy I garnered for Bane, which had been developing over the course of the movie, dissipated when the execution of his intent fizzled. Five months of patrolling the streets in batcars and “judging” the wealthy in an ad hoc mock courtroom ran stale, fast. After taking power, Bane did nothing but sit around for five months, feeling dispairingly like an over-the-top plot device to allow Wayne to recover and return. Even to the end I felt the whole city existed in a societal bubble, where the rest of the world didn’t exist and Gotham had turned into a microcosmal America. The United States wouldn’t allow a terrorist to hold an atomic bomb over the heads of an entire city for five months. That just isn’t how it works. Bane, if he was so intelligent, wouldn’t stand around for five months “torturing” Wayne by showing the city Hope.

This movie tied off all the loose ends, in the end, and completes the trilogy nicely. It accomplished what it set out to do. This movie is in no way as good as The Dark Knight, and perhaps even not as good as the first movie, Batman Begins. Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5. Middle of the road. Probably won’t watch it again (in comparison to The Dark Knight, which I’ve seen, oh, about fifty times).

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