Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

My Reservations Before Seeing the Movie:

  1.    Anne Hathaway as Catwoman
  2.    All the whitewashing

    Honestly, I've enjoyed every other Christopher Nolan movie I've seen, so other than these two complaints, I was completely along for the ride


What I Liked About the Movie:
  1.    I loved the music; as usual, Hans Zimmer did a fantastic job and I will be buying this soundtrack.
  2.    I liked the conflict between Bruce and Alfred and that Alfred had finally had enough of this heroing business, though I think that it could have been better set up and would have made more sense with a few changes. (see pt. 3 of the next list)
  3.    I like the ideological conflict that was set up at the beginning with the characters of Miranda Tate, Catwoman/Selina, John Blake, and Bane pointing out the corruption of the powerful and wealthy of Gotham and the subsequent effects that had on the people.
  4.    I liked Anne Hathaway's performance. I'm not giving her 5 out of 5 stars but she didn't completely eff it up either, and I don't think my lack of amazement at her performance is her fault. The truth is that the iconic Catwomen are Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer, both of whom redefined the Catwoman character, and while Anne Hathaway definitely has presence, she doesn't have that presence. But she is an excellent actress (one of my favorites) and she did well. I just think that a better casting choice could have been made and wasn't.
    (This is a complete side note, but if Anne Hathaway were to ever revisit Batman, I'd really want to see her cast as Andrea Beaumont/The Phantasm. Something about her performance leaned more in that direction, to me.)
  5.    I liked the way movie was resolved, especially with it being implied that "Robin" John Blake would take over as Gotham's protector and Selina and Bruce getting a "happily ever after". It was a nod to the fans who had been wanting some hint of Robin in Nolan's Batman franchise, but much more in keeping with the realism approach that Nolan has been taking. Plus it was a nice plot twist, and I really wasn't expecting it. As to Bruce and Selina honestly that's my Batman OTP right there so there are no complaints on that front. And it is so rare that any story shows Batman ending his crime-fighting career in anything but tears and death. Honestly, Nolan could have cut that part out and I still would have enjoyed the honorable ending given Batman, but having him be alive and able to love again exactly as Alfred wished, with the woman I wanted him to be with was... particularly sweet.
What I Didn't Like: 
  1.    Bane's. Voice. What. The. Heck.
    I do not understand why Tom Hardy had this affected accent that made no sense whatsoever when his own normal voice would have more than sufficed. And honestly this makes me think that the deal with Batman's voice (which has always been unrealistically growl-y and affected) has more to do with Nolan directorial choices than Bale's acting, and that's points off.
  2.    The Whitewashing. The fracking whitewashing.
    It's not actually that difficult to find  excellent Middle Eastern and South American actors. I love Tom Hardy and Liam Neeson is my man (I don't really have any feelings yay or nay for Marion Cotillard) but I am side-eyeing Nolan for those casting choices. Just, no.
    I seent you, Nolan.
    I seent you.
  3.    I did not like that Batman had retired for 8 years. First of all, this is completely out of character for Batman/Bruce EVEN with the loss of his "one true love" Rachel Dawes. Since the loss of his parents, Batman has worked for one goal and that is to fight crime. He has been dedicated to this goal even through the loss of other love interests, adopted sons, friends/colleagues in herodom, etc. in every other medium. In my personal opinion the only loss that could cause Bruce to not fight crime anymore would be Alfred and it would have to be something tragic and related to crime/crime-fighting, even then.
    (This is explored beautifully in the fanfics Locked Inside the Facade, Lost to the Night, and The Way Back by Esther-Channah Please read them if you have the time and are looking for good well-written Batman stories to fill in the void the movie shave left). 
    So, the idea  that Bruce would retire after what amounts to about a year of crime-fighting rang particularly untrue to who the character is. It would have made more sense to me if he had kept on for like four years but retired then with the "success" of the Harvey Dent Act since then his goal would at least seem to have been accomplished.
  4.    I did not like that Bruce/Batman seemed to have lost his connection to the people of Gotham. Just like his early retirement, this particular development did not align with the Batman character as I know him. That he so easily gave up on the clean energy project with Miranda and that he had let his support of the children's home lapse for so long was way out of character, even for a despondent, reclusive, and depressed Bruce Wayne. I just feel like his response to Rachel Dawes' death was out of character all around.
    I was about to say out of proportion but that's not really what it is. It's just that nothing I've seen or read of Batman really shows him reacting this way to personal loss. In fact, his reaction is almost always the opposite, to sink himself into the fight against crime and then to ignore personal relationship, his duties to his company, etc. I think that the lapse with the children's home and losing control of his company would have made more sense if Bruce Wayne was still being Batman. But without that distraction, I just don't see it.
    Not to mention that the Batman of TDKR seems to only be concerned with "blue collar" crime, when the Batman of the comics/cartoons not only stopped robberies, rapes, and street level drug dealers, but also took on the corrupted wealthy and political leaders which was(is) most of them. It's obvious that that kind of high crime still exists in Gotham from the beginning of the movie, but Batman's at home doing... nothing? He thinks he's reached his goal with the Dent Act even though it's obvious that the Dent Act (like most real world crime policies) don't at all effect the wealthy and powerful?
    Bruce Wayne has a huge--almost crippling--sense of justice and of responsibility, and that part of his character has to be satisfied in one way or another. He wouldn't just ignore ALL of that for eight years and do absolutely nothing, as in TDKR. I mean, it's so out of character we may as well not be talking about the same fictional person.
  5.    The previous point logically leads into my next and last one, and I owe some of my analysis to Why The Dark Knight Rises Fails by Julian Darius, which is a great post though I don't think the movie failed, per se. (edit 4/16/13: Never mind, yeah I do)
    I really really really don't like how the who Bane-induced revolution was handled or how the Gotham counter-strike was handled:
    1.    I hate how no one pointed out that this "revolution of the people" was false and forced since the people hadn't actually revolted and the person in control of the situation was Bane (and Talia/Miranda). Commissioner Gordon would have been the ideal one to do so in an address to the people, but even having John Blake point it out to another character would have sufficed.
    2.    All the poor/working class people were shown enjoying the spoils of Bane's war and while I think that there would be a lot of people joining in, there would be just as many poor people hiding in their houses in fear for their lives and generally unhappy about the circumstances and I don't think that was shown enough.
    3.    The police are not always good and right and do not always do what is in the interest of the people. In the movie they were shown as this waiting army of righteousness and... while I do think many police are in the force to do what's right, I as a person of color know that police officers can be just as much apart of the problem as the solution. And the Batman of the comics and cartoons also understands that as well. I think a good counter to that would have been to have Foley not eventually join forces with the rest of the force. It was a feel good move to have him do so, but it left an unrealistic and somewhat propagandized taste in my mouth.

All in all I enjoyed movie and even left with some satisfaction, but there are some significant flaws that rubbed me the wrong. I think Darius sums it up well here:
"What we get... is interesting and entertaining enough, but also misjudged on several points and incredibly politically disturbing."
It's definitely a departure from canon in ways more significant than the plot and Nolan's political beliefs seem to have had a heavy influence on the way the movie turned out.

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