Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Let me ask you something.  Which do you prefer?  Batman Begins or The Dark Knight?
They are two very different films.  Batman Begins is a complex story about substance, it tells of the development of Batman’s character, something I had never experienced before and that is what made it a good film.  The Dark Knight, on the other hand, was a film of action, showcasing fiction’s best villain in a new and beautiful glory the likes of which we’re likely to never see again.

The Dark Knight Rises is the last film in the Dark Knight Trilogy.  It is set eight years after The Dark Knight, although I strongly recommend watching Batman Begins before seeing it.  The Dent Act has been passed, locking up all of those involved in organised crime and therefore keeping Gotham a safe place.  Batman is gone, taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s actions and death, and Bruce Wayne hides in his mansion never to be seen as Wayne Enterprises collapses into ruin in his absence.  Then, a man with connections to the League of Shadows comes to Gotham, that man is Bane (Tom Hardy) and he is there to destroy the city and rid the world of Gotham’s evil.

The film starts slow despite meeting Bane early on.  Bane promised to be an interesting foe for Batman.  While The Joker was wildly intelligent and charismatic, he was smaller and weaker than Batman.  Bane, on the other hand, is physically stronger than Batman but still wildly intelligent.  How can Batman ever hope to defeat him?
We also meet the beautiful Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) early on.  Hathaway plays the strong, flexible cat burglar who becomes entwined in Bruce Wayne/Batman and Bane’s battle with great, subtle poise. 

The action sequences are unfortunately few and far between but they’re good.  Not The Dark Knight good, but good.  There is perhaps one great chase scene and the fantastically done football stadium scene.  The choreography, however, is poor.  You often see someone fly backwards without knowing how Selina/Batman/Bane hit them which feels a bit of a cop out and makes the scene disjointed. 

Actually, the whole film has a disjointed feeling, which may be because it is just so busy.  I was constantly asking why?  Why is this happening?  Why do people want Batman back when there is no organised crime left to fight?  Why is Bane doing this?  Who the hell is that bloke in the bag at the beginning?  You may think this may be a communication problem what with the concern over understanding Bane.  I actually didn’t find this a problem.  I understood nine of out ten of his sentences perfectly.  I still didn’t really understand the plot, not until the end. 
Speaking of Bane’s communication issues, what I did have a problem with was the music.  The volume of the background music was far too loud which meant that during the action sequences I couldn’t hear a word people were saying.  I was leaning forward, straining to hear them over the din and possibly lost a few plot points because of this.

I was disappointed by the ending (there is greater detail on this with spoilers via the link below).  I feel that a lot of Bane’s potential was lost.  There also wasn’t enough of him, or of Selina Kyle for that matter.  I wanted more of this beautiful cat burglar, more of the powerful Bane and, yes, more of the Batman.  Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy were all excellent, so why couldn’t we have had more of them?

I didn’t feel I learnt enough about Bane.  I spent the entire film waiting to find out how he got his mask, who he really is, what’s his motivation.  Despite learning bits and pieces I was left completely unsatisfied.
I feel sad that Bane’s potential wasn’t realised but my main issues are with Miranda, Wayne’s poorly written love interest.  Sadly I can’t explain this without some major spoilers, so to find out more click on the link below.

There wasn’t enough of the three main characters, so who was on the screen?  A rookie cop, Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), that’s who.  A young man with unfaltering faith in justice and Batman.  I will say no more.  I found this character so predictable that I feel just writing a few words will let you in on all the secrets.  However this film was less of a Batman film at times and more of a Blake film.

The very end is also predictable but very satisfying (other than Bane).  The film  is fairly empowering, it  made me smile, shed a small tear courtesy of Michael Caine’s Alfred and even a little chuckle in places but I wasn’t left grinning and buzzing with the dark inspiration that filled me after The Dark Knight.
However all of the actors are excellent and cannot be faltered.  The film is visually breathtaking with the same gritty, dark realism that made Batman Begins and The Dark Knight so compellingly wonderful.

The Dark Knight Rises is not a follow up to The Dark Knight, it is a sequel to Batman Begins.  Other than the references to Harvey Dent, and there are flashbacks for those who can’t remember, you do not have to have seen The Dark Knight to understand or enjoy this film. 
If you preferred Batman Begins then I think you will enjoy this film.  The Dark Knight Rises is another film of substance; it develops Batman’s character further, pushing him to very edge.  I enjoyed it but was left frustrated.  It’s a good film, it just wasn’t the film that I was expecting.  I will still be adding it to my collection however.

Warning:  This is a long film.  You may have to remember all of your Lord of the Rings bladder training.
For a little bit more, including ***spoilers***, scroll down!

The Dark Knight Rises is a good film but it could have been so much better.  The film needs more of Bane, Batman and Selina.  I’m a very character focused person, give me good action sequences and well developed characters and I’m happy.  My main gripes with this film involve three of the characters; Bane, Miranda and Blake.
Throughout the film we learnt very little about Bane but we do learn that he is intelligent, and sounds a little like Darth Vader.  I found him fascinating and was desperate to learn his back story and see more of him.  This was not to be.  In fact, by the end all of his intelligence and strength were ripped from him in one swift moment and his death (if he does die?) is short and quick.  How can Batman defeat this huge, strong and intelligent man?  Shockingly easily apparently, when it suits him.  It felt like by the end the writers decided he wasn’t to be the main villain and he just wasn’t worth bothering with.  What a missed opportunity.
Why did Bane no longer matter?  Because of Miranda.  A woman that’s there from the beginning of the film talking about investment in Wayne Enterprises, who then suddenly and magically sleeps with Bruce Wayne (for a man who hasn’t left the house in eight years he gets some action shockingly quickly, without even doing much talking!) and then turns out to be the mastermind villain of the whole thing (I knew there was something off about her).  She is the reason the plot didn’t make any sense throughout the main bulk of the film.  She is the reason that Bane is swept aside.  She proclaims his love for her (you read right) and he sheds a tear.  A tear!  While it is always wonderful to see a villain’s soft side, it was so poorly done it was like watching a completely different character.  Almost like a new writer walked in as they were working on that part of the script and took over without reading the beginning of the film. 
Yes, that’s right, I don’t like it when women go gooey over their men and I don’t like it when men go gooey over their women.  To add insult to injury, her death scene was so awful I nearly burst out laughing.
I figured out early on that Blake is Robin pre-tights.  I’ve never liked Robin.  Never.  I think Batman is much stronger as a solo character.  Don’t get me wrong, Blake seems like a great squeaky clean character and will probably make a fantastically dark Robin but I hope we never find out.  Please don’t let anyone be tempted to make a fourth film.

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