July 21, 2012

I'm going to ruin your day

Because I can.

Dark Knight Rises Review


I'm gonna agree with this guy: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/07/the-dark-knight-rises-and-falls/260091/
So if you don't feel like reading this review, you can read his.

I love Batman as much as anyone, and for anyone who loves Batman, The Dark Knight was the closest thing we'll get to a religious experience unless Jesus returns to fight crime. It took a weird, kinda goofy premise and made the audience believe in it. It made Batman sell his soul to save his city. And it allowed Rises to become whatever it wanted; with Batman as the undisputed ruler of Gotham, the mob locked away, and one of the deadliest villains, Rises could have taken the Batman trilogy and done to it what Dark Knight did to the Joker: made it completely, terrifyingly real.

It didn't. That's not to say it was a bad movie; it's more like Return of the Jedi. No matter how much awesome there is in that last fight with Vader, it still ends with teddy bears taking down a legion of the deadliest troops in the universe.

And that fits, because Rises was too wedded to the happy ending. It begins with the same bleak tone Knight ended on, only worse; Batman and Gordon are shells, hollowed out by the false victory they bought with Dent's grave. The war against crime is over, and all seems well in Gotham. Bane disrupts that. He takes control of the city with calculating, deadly assurance, and disposes of Batman as if he were a kid on Halloween. He is determined to destroy Gotham, as his mentor, Ras al Ghul, intended.

Then he doesn't. That's the second half of the movie. Bane dicks around, waiting for a bomb to explode, because fuck Bruce Wayne, that's why. Bane plans to die in the explosion, because fuck plans, too. And that's how the movie feels - the first half is tight, tense, and deliberately parallels the type of schemes that made Joker so dangerous. But it stops and waits so Batman can make a jump that was possible for a child but no one else. This, and some other plot holes (Bane falls victim to the "didn't hear the incredibly noisy thing sneak up on me" bit) take away from the movie, and there's no reason for them.

The second half could have kept afloat if Bane was interesting. He's not. He has a weird, squeaky British accent, and he talks all the fucking time, about nothing. There's a last-minute villain switcheroo as well, that serves no purpose other than to pay homage to the comics.

Batman works for the first half, mirroring the cocky return from Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, then falls flat. Rather than changing or developing after his failure, Batman just needed more push-ups. Catwoman is the most interesting, but she, too, plays the waiting game for the second half.

The rest of the characters are sidelined, reduced to saving the day because Batman can't be everywhere. Alfred gets it the roughest: he cries a little, tries to talk Bruce out of Batmanning again, then disappears until the end, so he can cry on Bruce's fake grave (which brings up an interesting point: there was no reason for Bruce to fake his death, so why did he?). The guy who played just as crucial a role as Ras and the Joker in forming Batman is cut out so we can watch Batman learn to believe in himself again. By doing push-ups. 

Rises starts awesome and ends with a thud. The questions inspired by the beginning - why are Batman and Gordon so dispirited? Why is Bane determined to fulfill Ras al Ghul's plan, and how did he take control of the League? What's Catwoman's story? - aren't answered, but are replaced with more frustrating ones by the end - Why do the convicts at Blackgate, who resisted the Joker's attempt to make them monsters, give in to Bane so easily? Why did Ras banish Bane? Why does Talia, whom we've never heard from before, give a shit about her dad, who abandoned her (so much so that she's willing to die to fulfill his mission)?

Rises had big shoes to fill and didn't. It had a lot of opportunities to mess with the audiences head and gave that up after Batman got tossed in stupid prison (seriously, there are no guards, and the wall is like twenty feet high with plenty of handholds). I can't say don't go see it - no one would listen, not even me - but let me know how ye like it.


since no review is truly complete without the uppity reviewer telling the reader how he would have done things, and oh, it would be totally awesome, shit yeah, here's what I'd have done.

Keep everything the same until the prison. Once Wayne is thrown inside, switch to Gotham. Drop the nuke angle, because it's dumb. Instead, make Bane's goal to fracture Gotham from the nation, spread anarchy and establish regional control by warlords, presided over by the League of Shadows. Life in Gotham under this kind of rule: the strong survive, thrive, the weak are left out, but a twisted "justice" system is set up (and leave out Scarecrow; the guy who made his money torturing the inmates now running things would not get a happy end). Gordon and Blake form a resistance, but are hunted; a special ops group tries to smuggle them out of the city, but only Blake makes it. Gordon is sentenced to "exile" and drops through the ice.

Blake follows Bane's trail to the prison, finds Bruce dead. One of the other prisoners (Alfred, why not throw him in there too) repeats Bruce's words from earlier in the film: "Anyone could be Batman". Blake returns to Gotham, and with Alfred and Fox's help dons the cowl. And brings a motherfucking war to Gotham city, by reminding them who the night belongs to.

Late Facts: Keep in mind I'm disappointed in the movie, but there's no way I could have come up with the awesomeness Nolan did. I'm putting my thoughts out on what did occur, and what makes sense to me given the setup of the movie's first half.

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