Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Catching up with 2012: The Dark Knight Rises

So yesterday I wrote that I had finally seen The Avengers, and how it probably didn’t matter what I said about it – comic book movies will go on, make money, and have its fans regardless of what I convey in a two paragraph blurb. So whether I think Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises – the final installment in his ambitious Dark Knight trilogy – is good or not probably doesn’t matter at this point. The fact that I am going to convey an opinion five months after the film’s release seems fruitless since most of what does work and what doesn’t work has been talked to death by this point. So I’ll try to make this as succinct as I can: I didn’t like The Dark Knight Rises...

...But I'm not a succinct person, so I have to spend a few paragraphs venting. I apologize for the lack of "reviewing" that's about to occur. 

There are moments that work (the montage of Bane’s overthrow; anything involving Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle) and many, many moments that absolutely do not work. It all comes down to taste, though, as I have never been one too enamored with Nolan’s “tell-don’t-show” (among other slight of hand tricks he loves to employ) approach to filmmaking. Many bloggers and critics have enumerated the ways Nolan still hasn’t quite figured out how to frame action in a competent matter, so I don’t want to waste words (since I’m trying to keep all of these “Catching Up” posts to capsule size) on merely aping what smarter people have said. No, I wasn’t frustrated with the wackiness of Bane’s voice (yes, it did sound like Sean Connery; I half expected Bane to turn around and yell, "you're the man now, Dogg" to Batman) sine it didn’t really bother me as much as Christian Bale’s still-awful rasp that sounds more like someone doing a parody of Bale as Batman. Bane's voice seemed like it belonged in a different world, though, than the super-serious one Nolan spent the better part of his recent career building, and that definitely made me scratch my head at why he chose to make Bane's voice the way it is. Hell, I wasn't even that put off by the film's running time (although the film is 40 minutes too long), or the action (I quite liked the energy of the action scenes while they were happening even though when the film was over, I couldn’t remember a damn thing about any of the action scenes) because Nolan always has a way of making his films seem more interesting while you're watching them than they really are. 

So, as I was watching The Dark Knight Rises, I thought the film was doing a pretty good job of working on me, but the more and more I thought about it the more the film frustrated me because of all of the unresolved ideas. What were the character’s motivations? Where was the fallout of Bane telling the city of Gotham the truth about Harvey Dent (something the film was building towards)? Why did Batman just leave and go with Catwoman only to get trapped by Bane?  How is it that Bruce Wayne is so blasé about giving away the fact that he’s Batman? Why was Joseph Gordon-Levitt so damn wooden? Why does Christopher Nolan insist on building and building and building without letting us understand where characters are, why they’re there, and how they got there (both in terms of emotions and logistics)? Why is it that Nolan felt the need to eliminate Bane in such a stupid way? Why is it that when the “big twist” does happen at the end (which wasn’t that big of a twist), Nolan feels the need to slow the film to a screeching halt so that his character can explain every damn thing about why they did what they did instead of leaving it up to the audience to put Nolan’s precious puzzle pieces together? Why the hell did Nolan insert that last shot (WHY!?)?

The Dark Knight Rises has too little that’s good and fun and entertaining. It’s not exhilarating (the IMAX scenes are ridiculous – another way Nolan has it both ways: super-serious, stripped down comic book universe but still filled with all of the ridiculous action one expects from a comic book movie), it needs more Anne Hathaway, and no one seems to be having in fun inside what I thought was supposed to be a big ‘ol summertime action blockbuster. Batman Begins started the series off on such a high note, The Dark Knight had an all-time great performance that made it easy to overlook the film’s obvious flaws but was still entertaining and kept the series' momentum strong heading into the third film, and The Dark Knight Rises ends the series with a whimper. Sad. 


Post a Comment