Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review | The Dark Knight Rises

This trilogy settles... with something hollow. And there are some spoilers in this review.
The epic conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy (yes, that's what I'm going to refer to these movies) settles with a finale that may set to spark conversations, good or bad. There's a lot to live up to, particularly its predecessor The Dark Knight which had since became an instant classic and turning point for not just the superhero and the comic book genre in general, but the whole of cinema as well. You would expect our villain's Baneto to top Heath Ledger's Joker (when simply it's already impossible and to top off  or be on par with TDK.

It's been 8 years since the events of The Dark Knight and already Gotham is free of any crime. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) had left the city and once he return, is left broke, physically and financially. Meanwhile Bane (Tom Hardy) emerges and decide to get rid of Gotham's prospers by taking over the city. How? By blowing up a football stadium, robbing a stock market and blowing up more bridges so that no one can actually escape from his reign. At the same time Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) decides to do so by stealing off the rich until she and Batman crosses each other's path. Meanwhile John Blake (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a rising cop on the aide of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) decides to reveal the true identity of Batman to the ailing people of Gotham and is also joining the fight against Bane's cause. And I forgot to mention that Miranda Tate (Marion Cottilard) is trying to... let's say Cotillard is playing the same character from Inception.

It took me a lot of thinking in writing this review because while I would compliment Nolan for having the guts in expressing his sense of realism and integrating them with magnificent IMAX sequences making much of his trilogy as a drama than a standard superhero film, I would knock off The Dark Knight Rises into having too much self-importance since it's too busy emphasizing the scope and scale of the film losing much of the depth that made its predecessors more special.

I would give credit to Nolan for the effort in rebooting the Batman franchise and turning i into t a class of its own. His knack for heavy realism and practical effects in his films, mostly reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick, has turn the caped crusader into a grounded, yet deeper character and already all three films contains itself with almost one theme only. Batman Begins, being about fear, The Dark Knight, which takes into the account of chaos and The Dark Knight Rises... social class conflict and Marxism?

With the third film, it takes a look back into Batman Begins partly to remind us why Batman actually exists in the first place and the challenge for him is to defeat Bane who may have ties with his previous mentor Ra-Al-Ghul. Unfortunately because of Bruce Wayne's physically weak stamina, it's really easy to guess that he would lose in the battle and that Bane is much stronger than he is. That may be one of my biggest problems with the film and it reminds me of a similar problem with The Godfather Part III. I know they do not deserved to be compared but in both films, the protagonists are introduced as really frail characters and the flaw upon that is already it's too late for any emotional compromise from the beginning to be actually believed. And it's not until Ra Al Ghul actually appears in a dream where the film starts to feel cluttered with its plotlines.

Like with Prometheus, another recent summer blockbuster, I also thought the ideas presented in a sense of grandeur and more to a reference to Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and the Occupy Wall Street Movement (whatever seems relevant) are all over the place and inflicting the inconsistency of the film's pacing or in most of the case the plot. In The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, both films put mobsters and money launderers as attributes to the crime of Gotham and as bait for the villains to manipulate. In here, they're putting the fatcats as the baits. Wow. What a subtext. There's not a lot of why and more of how the "1% ruined our society" belief being more preachy. I wonder who will be the other bad guys in the next films. Fox News advocates? It's also due to almost every supporting character that suffers from every contradiction to their personas. Some of the dialogue from Nolan's screenplay feels less intelligent than its predecessor and felt too cliched and generic.

E.g. -
BATMAN (tied on a rest by Bane): Why don't you just kill me first?
BANE: (still speaking in that Sean Connery accent): You will and ... I'm Gotham's reckoning... When Gotham is in ashes, you'll have my permission to die.
(Sorry. I might have took it off from the trailer.)
Bane seems to be a weaker villain than the Joker because unlike him or Ra Al Ghul, he doesn't have anything that releases any sense of spirit. This is due to his motivations, that is seemingly generic, pretty much taking over the city, dictating everyone's move. He seems to contradict his persona by saying he represents the people, but ultimately turning Gotham into a fascist regime. I'm pretty sure the events of the film is somewhat familiar to the 1917 Russian Revolution. Not to mention that his mask is horrifically designed and his voice was, at times, very inaudible. 35% of the time he sounds like if T-Pain already used too much autotune. Which brings me back to probably the biggest flaw of the film being that they contradict their characters and their motivations. And it not just happens to Bane, but Miranda Tate who reveals who she actually is in the final act since it's so poorly timed that it becomes increasingly frustrating as they still already build her character arcs.

With Anne Hathaway, you'd expect much to live as Selina Kyle who would bring something fresh into her character. Believe or not, she does. Hathaway brings some liveliness into her character though that's because she only does some ass-kicking. But when she tries to deliver some emotional weight it never felt subtle and it didn't convinced me that she would be a damaged person. Unfortunately, she as well suffers from changes in character by becoming a... pussy (no pun intended). E.g. - when Bane and Batman fight, she doesn't do anything but just watch and leave. There's no confrontation between him and Bane, so it's too obvious for her not to be the other villain since we already have one... wait, two villains.

But then the final act holds me off with this movie. While it reveals Tate's true identity and has Batman determining his place in the world, it still keeps building character arc and even in the final moments, Nolan doesn't know when to stop and we don't get an epic conclusion of the trilogy that we have been waiting for. And having already giving half of the film away, I don't want to tell you what actually comes next. You'll just have to find out.

Coming off from the problems I have with this film, like I said earlier, I compliment Nolan for having the guts to actually shoot amazing IMAX sequences that is jaw droppingly chilling and exciting at the same time. Some of the practical effects, the half an hour of action during the third act and the gorgeous cinematography from Wally Pftizer, a frequent collaborator are all worth the theatre viewing it deserves.  Perhaps the best character in this movie has to be John Blake played by Joseph Gordon Levitt who has the more interesting character arc than anyone in the entire film. Despite, however, ripping a plot hole open in how he knew Bruce Wayne was the Batman. Blake is much more fascinating because he is, as so suggests, is a true believer in the Dark Knight and seems to hold an epitome of such that kind. Despite being underutilized, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are really good as their respective characters. Christian Bale already deliver a realist Batman in the last two films and as always he's really fascinating to watch.

This is a movie that has so much ambition that it ultimately become lost in it based on the shallowness of it all and having too little, too much. Too many plots and too many characters to point where it's almost ridiculous. But at the same time you can't forget the amount of sheer effort this trilogy contains to make this superhero genre much more of an art form. All of the Batman movies including Nolan's have one thing in common: they all have a different style. Say what you want about Joel Schumacher who made Batman Forever and Batman and Robin but between Nolan and Burton, he makes his hero more strikingly and equally distinctive as Burton. And for Nolan, how his films stand out is the precise detail he brings into this film. It's not just more about Batman than it is about the stakeholders of Gotham. Yet for this, he only delivers a conclusion that ends on a spot of disappointment to be wilderness.

No comments:

Post a Comment