Friday, 20 July 2012

Review of The Dark Knight Rises (spoilers)

The Dark Knight Rises

A Review


    As the Dark Knight Rises fades rapidly from my memory (having watched it only last night), I decided to put down in words my impression of the last installment of the current trilogy of Batman movies.  Well, the two words that sprang to mind as I walked out of the cinema were 'Awful', and 'Tedious'.
    Before I go on and offer my two cents worth, I should point out that I'm not a regular Batman comic collector as such.  I did collect for awhile, then decided to stop when, after killing off Robin, DC comics decided a bit later to re-introduce another Robin.  Boo, you suck, goodbye.  Now I grab the odd trade that comes out, aiming for quality stories.  So I'm no 'Bat-purist' with a bat-axe to bat-grind, but unless you're a regular Batman collector and/or have a Batman costume and matching bedspread, chances are that I have more Batman comics than you do, so I do have a reasonable grounding in the Batman mythos, bitches. 
    As far as the movies go, I guess that makes me more open to creative interpretation of key characters.  Heath Ledger's interpretation of The Joker was the movie-saver for the second movie.  It was good, but, let's face it, it wasn't Grammy winning, or Oscar winning, or whatever the hell it is that he posthumously won for the job.  He only got it because he'd died.  Calm down, people.  Put your clothes back on.
    Now, before I launch an all-out attack on this overly long piece of cinematic crap, I'll give points to what I liked.  Memory, don't fail me now...
    There was a funny line from Bane (and that there is probably warning enough that there's something wrong with the movie.  But I digress...).  When he and his cronies (why does every single Batman villain always have cronies?  Spider-man never had to deal with that crap) walk into Wall Street, or the Gotham equilavent thereof, and one trader confronts Bane, saying something to the effect of 'You can't steal anything here, there's no money', Bane replies, 'Then why are you here?'  Word.
    Um...oh I did think the revelation of Talia Al Ghul's identity was done well.  Marion Cotillard went from her cover to Talia, and looked a completely different woman.  I thing she used...acting.  Marion looked like she meant the shit when she stabbed Batman after he'd finally smacked down Bane.  This is not how I remember her from the comics, but...hey, creative interpretation and all that.  She was well cast, I thought.  Unlike...well, nearly everyone else, really.
    Anything else?  Um...nope.  Can't remember anything else.  Everything else was crap.
    Confession time.  I don't like Christian Bale's Batman.  Further confession time.  I've not liked any movie actor's Batman.  So maybe I'm just too difficult to please.  Or maybe Batman is just too difficult to portray on cinema.  But back to Christian Bale.  As an actor, I've liked him in other movies.  He was great in 'The Prestige', as a child actor he was good in 'Empire of the Sun' (but, then again, I'm a huge J G Ballard fan).  But as Batman?  He doesn't carry it.  I hate that awful voice he puts on.  It's embarrasing.  If he's gonna talk like that, at least put corpse-paint on, grab a guitar and pretent to be in a Norwegian Black Metal Band.  But don't pull that silly shit on Batman.         
    And that's another thing about this movie.  Way too much Bruce Wayne, nowhere near enough Batman.  What was the name of the movie again?  Bruce Wayne Whinges and Moans Again?  What no cinema director of Batman has realized about the Bruce Wayne/Batman dynamic can be summed up in one panel from Grant Morrison's 'Arkham Asylum' graphic novel.  When Bats has been coerced into being trapped in Arkham Asylum with the other loonies (yes, the OTHER loonies, you heard me), a faceless inmate suggests to the Joker, 'I say we take his mask off.  I want to see his real face'.  To which the Joker replies, 'Oh, don't be so predictable, for christ's sake!  That is his real face.'  Yep, Bruce Wayne is the mask, Batman is what's real.  In a way that isn't true for any other superhero.  And how many people in this movie know who Bruce Wayne really is?  Wiki-leaks has alot to answer for...
    I mean, seriously, who doesn't know 'Bruce Wayne' is Batman by the end of the movie?  I swear that busload of kids all knew who he was.  Oh, that's right, he's gonna kill off  'Batman' and become Bruce Wayne off in another country with his girl in tow (no prizes for guessing who that ends up being), to fulfill that little emotionally manipulative fantasy of Alfred's to end the movie.  Sure, nobody will recognise billionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne in another country.  Incognito my arse.  Great deduction there from 'The World's Greatest Detective'.  Oh yeah, that's right, he's a renowned detective.  How much detective work do you remember him doing in these movies?  Nope, me neither.
    Speaking of whinging and moaning, Michael Caine seemed to spend half of the movie crying, and the other half absent.  Alfred went emo.  CRAP!  Get a grip!  And his home-spun straight-talking, folky down to earth wisdom which served so well in the first movie, by the third was coming across as tiring and annoying.  His collection of his inheritance from the Wayne Estate seemed like a rip-off from 'Undercover Boss' (Here's your extra pittance for wasting your life serving my billions of dollars you moaning prick!).  And Morgan Freeman's portrayal of whatever-his-name-was, (again, refreshing in the first movie) was tired by this movie.  He was the Q to the Bond-esque nature of these 3 movies, which is probably why I didn't really connect with any of these movies.  The opening scene of this movie screamed 'Bond', and his arsenal of toys and tanks, etc, moved him into the realm of 'Bond' and away from detective work and bokko which even the '60's movie (for all it's campness) managed to adhere to.
    And speaking of not liking characters, Bane and Cat-woman.  Groan.
    Bane.  Let's start with this Rhodes-scholar terrorist.  This movie was a battle of the terrible voices.  Bane's voice was awful, nearly as bad as Batman's.  At least you could make out what Batman was saying.  I missed half of Bane's surprisingly eloquent and verbally acrobatic monologues.  Didn't care really, I was too busy stifling yawns.  What the hell is it with Bane anyway?  My understanding of Bane as a 'character' was a one-off device introduced to break Batman's back and retire him from active service so as to introduce a bat-family and gouge more money from bat-freaks.  That's my limited understanding of Bane, apart from what was referenced in the 'Arkham Asylum' game (and Joker/Bane did look cool in that at the end).  So what did I miss?  How accurate is all this other crap in the movie to the comic book character?  Coz to me, he seemed like a complete mis-match of a character, with nothing in his movie background to explain his eloquent monologues.  I would have been happy with him playing the steroid freak he looked like.  Oh, and as for the 'back-breaking' moment in the movie, don't blink or you'll miss it.  Fail.
    Cat-woman?  Don't get me started.  The Femme Fatale ideally should be someone with a tragic streak that draws in the male lead despite his better judgement, and ideally ours.  Fail on both accounts.  The only things tragic about Anne Hathaway's Cat-woman was the two expressions she jumped between, and the lack of bending-over-in-hot-costume action which would have served as the consolation prize for playing Catwoman in such a shallow manner.  There was no chemistry between Bale and Hathaway at all, and every instinct from my perspective was screaming 'Bang her, she's hot!'.  For a great re-interpretation of Selina Kyle, check out the Batman graphic novel 'Nine Lives' which is a seriously under-rated Batman Graphic Novel.  She would have been a great Black Cat for Spider-Man, but Black Cat was a cheap knock-off of Cat-Woman in any event.  Oh well...
     Original plot devices?  I'd called most of them before they happened (No rope...), (oh wait, he did fix the auto-pilot after all), (oh no, it's not that truck after all!) etc etc.  And the movie clocked in at 6 and a half hours, or at least it felt like it.  Way too slow, way too long, emotionally under-whelming and obviously manipulative (through emo Alfred).  Nothing clicked for me, and I thought tying in the whole Occupy Wall Street vibe was handled clumsily and artlessly.
    Just on a personal note, to finish up, as far as Bane's little 'uprising' speech, to get the masses behind him for his little 'revolution', this fell flat for me.  The whole villain plan to change the world was dealt a mortal blow 26 years ago in 'Watchmen'.  I suppose Alan Moore raised the bar too high with Watchmen as far as villain plans go.  When you have a villain make a dastardly plan that actually rationally makes sense under the circumstances, and shows super-heroes as lacking vision for attempting to oppose the grand scheme in the first place, (and worse, actually making the world a worse place were they to have succeeded) then Bane's call for 'revolution' seemd empty and re-hashed.  How about introducing a compelling case for changing the world?  That's what made Magneto in the X-Men movies (and comics) so compelling.  Because, as much as you could argue with his method, his rationale was perfectly understandable, and one with which pretty much anyone could sympathise with.  Bane?  snore...
     So where to now for the Dark Knight?  Right now, my head hurts from this under-whelming cinematic experience.  I think I'll dive into my graphic novels again and remind myself why I do love Batman, because this movie has me wondering.  And ultimately, that's no good, now is it.

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