Monday, September 3, 2012

The Rise And The Fall

The Dark Knight Rises(2012)
 directed by Chris Nolan
Bane was good, Hans Zimmer's score was good, and the rest was overwrought.
Too much Wayne, Robin, Catwoman, and simply not enough Batman or Bane.
The Harvey Dent-Joker-Batman trinity was developed in "The Dark Knight", these characters are random sketches, that Nolan is too realistic to instill with any theatrical flourish.
The police vs Bane army clash was nonsensical and tedious and very un-Batman.
Whatever happened to the roomful of stolen Batman tech used to dominate the city?
After two and half hours of hearing about how Bane and Batman are ninja trained, master strategists, tough enough to survive the worst conditions imaginable their final battle is resolved by punching each other in the face until someone drops.
Why is Bane's mask suddenly so easy to damage?
It didn't make any sense, and visually it looked ridiculous, as did much of Nolan's insistence that Batman appear in the day time.
 For a Dark Knight, he was very active in the mid day sun.
I am familiar with the Batman gospel, so Talia Al Ghul is no shock, but considering how little she does, (changing into a robe, shanking Batman, and dying) its a major waste of a character, but that's nothing compared to how disappointing Catwoman is.
There is no comparison to Michele Pfeiffer captivating unpredictable portrayal, and compared to how much time goes into the Bane/Thalia back-story were left to accept a jewel thief, acrobat, who can fight a roomful of thugs without tying her hair back.
She is sadly reduced from femme fatale incarnate to little more than Batman's girlfriend (as Commissioner Gordon calls her).
Chris Nolan has never been comfortable making a superhero film.
He has tried very hard to focus in as as much as possible on the police procedural, mystery, thriller, James Bond style action and neo-noir elements of the Batman saga, and leave out the sci-fi, horror, occult, comedic, kitschy, and psychedelic elements.
Which in order for villains like Bane and Catwoman to work at their theatrical best you have to delve into a little bit.
The problem with "The Dark Knight Rises" is that its the reactionary opposite of Joel Schumacher's "Batman And Robin", which tried to freeze the character in his 1960's television show incarnation.
Nolan's Bat-mans suit obsessional functionality is because of Schumachers infamous nipple additions.
Bane appears in both films coincidentally, both times serving a beautiful woman (that easy beauty and beast metaphor just to convenient to skip).
Like "Inception" the film relies too heavily on exposition constantly talking about what the action and excitement will be like, how beyond belief, terrible, monumental, and epic, but it only turns out to be face-punching and shooting machine guns out of speeding cars; typical action fodder.
Nolan has drained the vitality of the Batman series and the character, no wonder Bale appears as a ghost of himself in his first scenes; a man we are constantly told is too old to be running around on rooftops and fighting in back alleys, who should settle down with a nice girl (the first one he meets with  a grappling hook and jump suit) and start looking after his money.
 Nolan wanted an epic close to his series, but in an era of constant reboots, prequels and spin-offs, and sequels, and from a character 80 years old, a definitive end feels, because it is, disingenuous.
More so when "I am Robin" is almost tattooed on Joseph Gordon Levitt's forehead for most of the film.
I saw this movie in theaters twice, and both times I could hear argument from the audience as to when and if the inevitable Robin film would be coming out.
 Rightly so, because the epic ending is actually a way of avoiding having to come up with an interesting end to the series. 
The attack on Wall Street, misses any opportunity to be more than a desperate grab at topicality, so its ultimate attempt at gravity (the implied social and economic thin ice we are all walking on in the real world and that we see at the very beginning of the film) is meaningless. 
This is why after Bane's death, the film becomes stale, obvious, devoid of its earlier all too rare moments of surprise and tension. 
Unlike "The Dark Knight", which only ratchets up the suspense after Joker's capture, with Two-Face's kidnap of Commissioner Gordon's family, The Dark Knight Rises falls to a standstill when it should be at its peak. 
No matter how forgiving I might want to be, this was not a very good movie. 
A good series, and a film with some interesting character acting and a good score, but run-of-the mill as an action film, dull as superhero film, and flat as a drama, as lacking imagination and over-complicated as "Inception".
Like "Star Wars" and "The Matrix" before it, a series with a strong start, gets phoned in at the end, and rises to a dismal finish. 

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