The Dark Knight Falls (flat on its face)

SPOILER ALERT!!!This post will contain spoilers for the major motion picture “The Dark Knight Rises” If you have not yet seen the film (and I suggest you don’t) then you have been warned.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way lets talk about the movie. Right off the bat I’ll have to confess: I have not seen the first two movies of the trilogy, so one could claim I didn’t get the full batman experience and that is why I didn’t care for it. Personally, I am of the opinion that, if a director can’t make me fall in love with a host of characters in 2 hours and 44 minutes, then the rest of the trilogy probably wouldn’t have done it for me either.

Speaking of characters, lets take a look at them. From poorly-cast roles to poorly-developed characters this movie has it all! In the first five minutes of the movie I already had a red flag waving in my head. Gary Oldman was not the right choice for Commissioner Gordon. In fact he was a very poor choice. He was not the hardened police chief of the comic books or the television show, he gave an impression of a weak nerd that you just wanted to tell to scamper on home while the police took care of things.

Now our sacred hero Christian Bale. I felt Bale did an exceptionally poor job representing the orphaned vigilante Bruce Wayne that we’ve come to know and love. Where was the hatred? The inner turmoil? The emotions? Why did I feel like I needed to giggle like a little girl every time he talked while wearing his batman garb? This may be me giving a cheep shot because I haven’t seen the first two movies, but Wayne felt like the most static character I’ve seen in a long time.
Alright now for some compliments about characterization. Catwoman was beautifully cast in this movie (and I’m not just saying that because of the way Anne Hathaway looked in leather).

20120727-133908.jpgHoly Catchphrase, Batman!

Hathaway did a wonderful job in all of her acting scenes, as well as portraying her character (possibly the only character to undergo a major change during the course of the movie). The only person to show her up in the film was Michael Caine as Alfred. This was a character who pulled at your heart strings every time he appeared on screen. Well cast and he did a phenomenal job of acting in this movie.

Now how about the plot? Oh what a terrible plot it was. Now as a general rule I don’t mind bullshit science on one condition. You’ve got to billboard it as bullshit. If you try to pretend it could be a real technology then we’re going to have a problem. Tony Stark’s ark reactor was a great example. You never once were led to believe that the technology to power his suit would fit in his chest like that or work that way. It was made obvious as a plot device and soon forgotten about as the actual story went on. The same cannot be said for the fusion reactor/atom bomb in the Dark Knight. It was the central premise for the plot. The impossible feat of science allows the villains to take an entire city hostage from its country which nagged at the back of my head for the entire movie.

Besides the gaping plot holes they patched with pseudoscience nonsense we are never really brought to realize that the bad guys won. Today we have been conditioned by warm, fuzzy, feel-good superhero movies to expect the good guys to win. We are then forced to ignore the victories won by the baddies. In this particular movie Bane all but leveled the city of Gotham, gave its citizens and other citizens of its country a very healthy distrust of their government since it couldn’t do anything after a small group of insurgents took the entire city hostage from the military. Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were killed. More were probably robbed and raped, though it wasn’t shown on screen. Hundreds of violent criminals were unleashed upon a city and given automatic weapons. Gotham was, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. And what did the side of good do? They captured two bad guys and prevented the further destruction of Gotham (assuming that, when Wayne flew the bomb over the bay he didn’t cause a tidal wave that leveled the city, like the science says it should have).

Also, my final complaint, while we’re on the subject of the bomb. Our last vision on the timer shows that, before Batman takes off in the Bat, there is about a minute left before annihilation. We are told earlier in the movie that the bomb would have a six mile blast radius. This being the case, he would have flew the bomb out over the bay at a rate of THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY MILES AN HOUR. And that is just to get the city out of the direct blast radius, not taking into account the nuclear fallout, and/or the tidal waves that would have been a result of the explosion.

 

One thing redeemed this movie for me, and I was heartbroken when it wasn’t explored further, was the timid peek into the realm of Grotian Philosophy (read your classics! The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau). My favourite scene in the entire movie was the dialogue between Daggett and Bane when Daggett insisted that his assistant stay, and Bane commanded the opposite. Daggett insisted that he was in charge, and Bane responded with a hand on his shoulder asking “Do you feel in charge?” Intimidated, Daggett mumbles about giving Bane fortunes, and Bane questions “And this gives you power over me?”

That last line gave me shivers, because it sent my mind racing on a philosophical journey exploring the question of what gives one man power over another. It made me think, and I love that in a movie. Ideas in The Social Contract were further explored when Bane talked about liberating the people of Gotham, and giving them back their city, effectively freeing them from their Social Contracts. The philosophy stopped there though, as it becomes apparent that all Bane really wishes to acheive is chaos, which, coincidentally, is all Mr. Nolan achieves as well.

 

Overall I give this movie a 2 out of 5 stars.

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~ by Arsirion on August 1, 2012.

One Response to “The Dark Knight Falls (flat on its face)”

  1. Yes, a movie should stand on it’s own.

    However, it is overly harsh to complain that you don’t get deep character development in the third installment of what was known from the start as a trilogy. That is like complaining that we aren’t given a reason to care about this weak and whiny Frodo guy when all you watched was Return of the King.

    The first movie does an excellent job of capturing his anger. Yes, Gordon is nerdy, but we see him start far lower in rank earlier on and it works as you see the characters progress.

    That said, the rest was just about spot on.

    The bomb should have used made up physics, like in Iron Man. Using something that is real, and then having it behave unrealistically, requires far more suspension of disbelief than clearly fiction-science. This rings doubly true in a sci-fi or comic movie, where you should reasonably expect a higher proportion of geeks than a standard audience.

    Even for someone who has seen the first two movies, this plot was pretty terrible. It had none of the emotional weight and poignancy of the first two, with the exception of a couple of scenes with Alfred.

    Many of the themes explored, if you can call the light treatment in this movie exploration, were merely a rehashing of themes better covered in the earlier movies, such as facing fear and the plight of the underclasses.

    My wife is a giant comic book nerd. I am not, but I loved the first two movies. This movie left both of us highly disappointed. I’m not even sure if there were major plot holes, like the timer/flight issue, in the first two, because they were good enough you didn’t care. This movie failed to catch your interest enough that you had time to think about the problems even while still watching it.

    It also falls on certain tropes that are just far too overplayed. At one point Gordon has to attach a magic jamming gizmo to the bomb. Oh no, a timer! And he dropped it! Will he get it in time!? Of course he will, with seconds to spare. Yawn. My wife is normally far more forgiving of these things than I am, and even she felt like bringing this scene up and comparing it to the joke about it in Galaxy Quest, where the bombs never explode because the aliens thought timers always stopped at 1 second remaining.

    On the issue of the flight time with the 2 minutes remaining, remember also that he somehow had time to bail out into the ocean. Even assuming that he was underwater for the blast and shielded from much of it, there is still the issue of the freezing temperatures (people were walking on the frozen river). This was clearly him faking his own death on purpose, so he would have had to ensure no one found him in the ensuing search. When did he prepare an ocean bailout package? How did he protect that from the blast? How did he escape detection in what would have been a huge manhunt? When did he concoct this plan since he had no reason to expect to need to fly a bomb over the ocean until moments before?

    It really was a disappointing movie. If you have seen the first two, I suppose you should see the final one to complete the series, but don’t go in with high expectations.

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