Archive for July, 2012

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The Dark Knight Rises

July 20, 2012

 

The Dark Knight Rises

This being Christopher  Nolan’s last Batman film, it ended up being more of a farewell tour, then a soundly put together movie, that relied more on bringing back everyone they could, then developing a well focused story.  He wanted to go out with something epic but didn’t have a strong enough bad guy to carry the film and while it has some of the same visual and scoring impact, there were lapses in sound editing that took the audience out of the film.  It doesn’t live up to the strength of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The story, a convoluted one, is one that we’ve already seen before, in fact, it is basically the same as the first two.  Batman has a problem, he faces the problem, he fails, he gets broken, he comes back stronger, someone teaches him something to make him even stronger still, and he wins at the last minute.  This film basically followed the same plot line with the added bonus  of John Blake, another member of the police force who gets to work with Commissioner Gordon.  It also suffers from the extreme backstorying, not of the people who completely matter, but of Bruce Wayne from the previous movies.  Most people seeing this either won’t care that much about the back story or already know it, it was about 20 wasted minutes of flashbacks that weren’t needed which seriously hurt the pacing of the story.

The acting in this film is considerably weaker then any of the other films.  Bane, played by Tom Hardy, is extremely forgettable.  He is physically imposing muscle wise, but seems tiny on the screen, he doesn’t ever seem like someone who people should fear on the screen.  His voice also was very disconnected and poorly done (and mixed) from the rest of the film.  The first few scenes he is in, it seems more like a voice over then the actual character talking.  Marion Cotillard is also weak as Miranda/Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter.  Her romance with Bruce Wayne is very forced and very quickly done in the film, people complained about Jane Foster and Thor in Thor, this had about half the set-up that one did.  Then the “great” twist that she is evil gave us some of the most poorly delivered monologues in the film that were pretty well devoid the the emotion that you were hoping for, and illogically placed.  I realize it shouldn’t be compared to the Avengers or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Joss Whedon does one thing very well, when something major is going on in a battle and someone dies, it isn’t focused on, here no one dies, but everything is separated greatly and needlessly.  The hero versus villain battle that we get between Bane and Batman is in a larger ongoing battle, but apparently all the police know not to even look at Bane and all of Bane’s minions know not to look at Batman.  This is normal for most movies, but in a film that is supposed to be tougher, more realistic, and grittier then your average superhero film, it fails.  Gary Oldman is done no services as Commissioner Gordon, all the previous work developing his character is swiftly undone in this film, wasting Oldman’s talents as he becomes a device to move a plot forward, not an actual character.  Christian Bale is also a disappointment in the film, but that is kind of expected, his forced gravelly Batman voice works about as well as Clark Kent putting on glasses so people don’t know he’s Superman, except with this we have to listen to it the whole time, which becomes very old quickly and Bale becomes more of a caricature then an actual superhero.  This also doesn’t touch on the fact that Bale can be okay as Batman, but is worse as Bruce Wayne providing none of the emotion that one would expect to see from this film.  Anne Hathaway is another disappointing character, which I blame more on writing of Catwoman, than on Anne Hathaway.  The role is meant to be seductive and sexual, which Hathaway pulls off quite well at various parties and galas which she has broken into it, but towards the send of the film, all the shots of her are overtly sexual and  completely objectify her character, and remove the ability to see her as a serious performance in the film.  There was a good performance though in Blake, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as he showed off some acting chops and showed character change throughout the film, unlike basically anyone else in the film.  And it looks like he could be used in films going forward, so that gives me some hope for a franchise that should be moving forward still, even without Nolan and Bale.

Critically this film had much of the look without any of the flare.  Nolan got lost in the fact that this was his last film trying to create this grand plot that would allow him to reference extensively the previous two films.  This film seems to be his good bye and he leaves major issues with the timing of the story, figuratively and literally, where Batman is trapped in a prison called the pit, gets out, and in 6 hours is back on Gotham which is shut off from the outside world.  Or Batman being in one place in Gotham, showing a time counting down, at another place in Gotham and considerably too little time has passed.  The music also isn’t as tightly done as it should be and as one would expect it to be.  It doesn’t take the audience out of the film, but it doesn’t drive them deeper in.

Overall this isn’t a bad film, it is entertaining, but it isn’t anything special for several reasons.  Firstly, the story got to big on Nolan, he wanted to make an epic swan song for him to leave on, and he drew it out too long and added things that weren’t needed.  This is fairly understandable though, it was an entertaining 2:45 film, but would have been a better 2:00 film.  Secondly, Batman is more about the villains then the hero, Batman himself isn’t all that compelling, he is a man on a mission to take down bad guys, he doesn’t have a huge personality of his own.  His villains do, however, and with Ra’s Al Ghul, Scarecrow, and The Joker, we got that, with Bane we got none of that.  There are at  least 3 Batman movies better then this one.  But go to it not for critical prowess or expecting it to be as great as The Dark Knight and you should enjoy this film.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: B-/C+

Overall Grade: B-