Movies: The Dark Knight Rises

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy (kind of), Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story) from characters created by Bob Kane
Warner Bros., 2012
R; 165 min
3.75 stars (out of 5)


Go on and be angry at me for not giving this film five stars, but really, though it's a good movie, it certainly wasn't as good as all the hype I heard had led me to believe it would be.

This is, of course, the backhanded thing about rave reviews. When a person walks into a movie with no to low expectations, it's easy to wow them. When they walk in expecting to be wowed, it's much, much harder to pull off. (Also, I've seen some really great movies lately, so maybe this one simply suffered by comparison.)

Now to be fair, I'm also the kind of person to get distracted by logic and the lack thereof, so when Bane is going around wanting to destroy Gotham—or, as he puts it, wanting to "give it back to the people" (via anarchy I guess?)—I couldn't help thinking, Why? What is it about Gotham and its fundamental bureaucracy that's got him so upset? It's easy to try and cover the whole thing with a sort of blanket, "Well, he's a terrorist. In fact, he's the terrorists even the terrorists didn't want," but I need more than that. So I sat through a good portion of this movie thinking it was either very poorly planned on the side of character development and motivation (being in a pit as a child makes you mad at Gotham?) or that there had to be another explanation. Which there is. But it doesn't come until the very, very end of this longer-than-average film. I know it's supposed to be a big reveal or twist or whatever, but for me it was just more of a relief. And that's not what you should want the end of your movie to be: a relief.

The other thing that bothered me about this movie was the ADR for Tom Hardy's character. (I'm assuming it was ADR of some kind, since I'm sure he could hardly be heard in that mask.) It just didn't jive with the fact that I knew it was Tom Hardy, didn't sound like what I thought he should sound like . . . I'm sure they were going for a Darth Vader intimidation kind of thing, but I found it oddly vertiginous. And then I started thinking it had to suck to have to be wearing that mask all the time. It didn't look comfortable, the way the skin of his face puffed out around it. So, in short, I guess I found a lot of the details in this movie distracting.

There's a lot going on in The Dark Knight Rises, too, which means no one gets much to do outside of hitting their plot points. This goes back to lack of character development except in places where it promotes the plot. Oh! So Blake was also a orphan! Well, that explains his dedication to helping the boys at the orphanage, which sets him up to confront Bruce Wayne about funding and . . . Nod, nod. The people in this film are not people so much as facilitators for the story. Which is itself rather messy with so much going on in it. It's built like a rubber band ball, with many layers and the bands cross and even tangle, but at the end of the day it's just a wad of rubber that will leave your hands smelling funny if you handle it too much.

Sorry, that's not the best metaphor. But it's late.

In the end, the film—meant to be the last of Nolan's Batman trilogy—is as neatly formed as said rubber band ball, everything and everyone in proper place. It is not an unsatisfying end by any means. And despite all the mess, the movie is entertaining (when one is not distracted by wondering why the streets are so clean and clear if Bane has dismantled the infrastructure of the city and, in fact, ruined the roads and buildings in many places). It's only that, after hearing so many wonderful things about The Dark Knight Rises, I felt a bit disappointed. It is a movie that is plotted so thoroughly and filmed so carefully it loses some of the interest that rough edges could have given it.

No comments: